Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Help on the carpet

Author Kathryn Stockett exposed a Deep South way of life that sixty agents rejected. I am grateful the sixty-first saw her work's value and had the courage to do something about it. I caught up with the movie at our local library expecting the pull down screen to be the object of projection. Wrong. It was projected on the carpeted wall behind it for a larger picture.

Prejudice was not limited to the Deep South. In the Midwest, we had religious prejudice. In the 60's an African-American engineer came to our area to work for General Dynamics. It was the first time I witnessed racial prejudice.

I compared my Midwestern culture with the Deep South. Where I grew up, we were 'the help' with an outside bathroom, too. Ours was a two-seater outhouse. Jani and I learned to garden, cook and preserve our food, tend the chickens, hogs, cattle and occasional lamb, sew, entertain, write thank you notes and more. We never had a sitter or a nanny. When Mom and Dad had to go somewhere, we stayed with Grandpa and Grandma and Aunt Bobbe.

We watched Mom do it all in the house and the garden and train us to do the same. She helped Dad move livestock and kept the hogs back when he drove the tractor in with a load of corn. We sure could have used 'help', but it wasn't an option. Neighbor helped neighbor, but not on a daily basis.

We were self-contained. We grew our own food, and Mom and Dad did our comforting, guiding and inspiring. We knew we were loved. She belonged to Seven-O-Sals extension club that met monthly for practical household tips and homemade cake the hostess took great care preparing. At home chocolate with chocolate frosting was Jani's and my favorite. Mom's favorite was angelfood with strawberries and whipped cream. She knew exactly how many cobs to put in the cookstove to bake a perfect angelfood. Couples played Pinochle and Canasta and Square Danced.

Our lives were full and complete. We always had 'enough'. Extended family helped harvest the garden, clean chickens, and came in emergencies. One summer Saturday Mom knew something was up when three-year old Janis asked for soap and water. Mom searched and discovered she had dipped the black and white kittens in tan (ugly to me) porch paint. By the time Grandpa arrived, the kittens were stiff. He and Mom worked the rest of the day cleaning them off with paint thinner. They all survived.

Without hired help, willing neighbors were a treasure. They helped each other put up hay, harvest, and do what ever was needed. We were a tight-knit, small community that revolved around a country school.

Every community has its own culture. I enjoy learning what's held sacred, how they worship, care for one another, what works and what doesn't. Learning about our differences leads to understanding, tolerance and peace. Whatever works.

Goodnight y'all.

2012 Red Convertible Travel Series

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