Grandma and Grandpa Myers. Josephine and Charles. Jo and Charlie. My mom's parents. They had a farm about an hour away, where Mom and I went about every 4-6 weeks, and Mom would fix the visits so they coincided with the visits of my aunt JoEllen and her kids, Tommi Jo and Curtis. I was jealous of Curtis because he was the only member of the family who had a middle name. Seriously. His middle name is Britton, how neat is that? The rest of us had to slum it with only a first name. Our family was Pennsylvania Dutch, so maybe middle names were to fancy, I don't know.
Mom and I would go down early on a Saturday morning and come back home late Sunday night. I remember feeling like so much fun was stuffed into those 36+ hours. Sometimes we'd walk in and Grandma and Grandpa would be in the kitchen, making homemade noodles. There would be a big lunch, which they called "dinner", followed by a big nap for everybody. I mean it, my entire family would find a couch, half-a-couch, chair or space on the floor and we would crash. We were like a litter of kittens, and we always said the house just made us sleepy. It's also possible that we suffered from low levels of carbon-monoxide poisoning, I'm not sure.
My grandpa raised sheep, along with crops of corn and soybeans. He may have planted some winter wheat, but I'm not sure. There were two ponds on the farm, one was really old and overgrown, so that no fish would breed in it any longer. When I was 10, Grandpa had a new pond built, and he stocked it with bass and bluegill. He taught me to fish, and my cousin Curtis, but I'm not sure about my other cousins. Aunt Kathleen, and her daughters Molly and Annie, lived in Arizona and then Wyoming, before finally settling in Wisconsin, so I didn't see them as often as I'd have liked. In fact, I was the only grandchild for 10 years, before Tommi Jo came along (Molly is 2 years older than Tommi Jo, but I never counted her, since she lived in other states and therefore wasn't a rival for Grandma's affections).
After the nap, I would drive my cousins into town to pick up a couple of movies at the seed & feed store/video rental place, which was run by a blind woman and her husband. All of the videos were labeled in Braille, so she could find movies when her husband was busy selling seed/feed/fertilizer to local farmers. Nothing above a PG rating, that was the rule.
If we wanted to get clean, there was only the bathtub, no shower. And my grandparents had a well, so if there was a drought, we had to....share bathwater!!! Oh, get over yourself. The cleanest person would go first, and so on and so on.
The farm has been in the family for over 150 years, and I'm not sure when the farmhouse was built but the layout was very simple: the main floor had a living room, kitchen and dining room. Upstairs had three bedrooms, no hallways. The main bedroom was at the top of the stairs, with the bathroom being just off of the main bedroom. The house was heated by coal, and there were no vents upstairs, so it got super cold in the winter. That's why Grandma kept her homemade candy in the green room during Christmas-time.
Grandma and Grandpa slept in the main bedroom, JoEllen and her kids slept in the "blue room" and my mom and I slept in the "green room" (which was the furthest from the stairs and the coldest).
When Kathleen and her kids were down, we'd make up beds on the floor. Mom and her sisters would then keep all of us awake talking and giggling about stuff they'd done as children. Like the time Kathleen snuck into JoEllen's room, under her bed, and grabbed her, making JoEllen scream and pee the bed, which led to my grandma making all of the kids sleep in the shed with the sheep....and I totally made up that last bit. Are you still with me? Whatever. If you aren't, you're not interested. If you are, you're probably in my family.
Sunday morning. Grandpa always cooked that meal. Scrambled eggs with chopped up bacon in them. Pancakes and sausage. Biscuits and gravy, with fried Morrell mushrooms in season. And the most disgusting breakfast ever...scrapple, which I secretly nicknamed "crapple". Basically, scrapple consists of cornmeal mush, mixed with leftover pig parts, "everything but the squeal" such as the head, heart and liver, formed into a semi-congealed loaf and fried before serving. I know. What's not to love?
Grandma would start dinner, which I called "lunch" before church and stick it in the oven. After church, she sometimes made Grandpa race back to the house so dinner didn't burn, on account of the preacher going over his allotted time.
Sunday dinner. Chicken and noodles, baked ham, scalloped chicken, fried fish and pork chops, along with the various things that appeared at each meal. Bread and butter with jelly (always), pickled beet eggs (around Easter, and disgusting), Aunt JoEllen's awesome salad with vinegar and sugar dressing, her amazing potato salad (whenever we had fish) and Grandma's canned vegetables. We also had something called "snicker salad". This consisted of chopped up snickers and cut up apples, mixed with cool whip, and it was actually served with dinner (lunch), not after. Then there was dessert. Homemade angel food cake with pennuche frosting, rhubarb, peach or blackberry cobbler covered in Milnot condensed milk (eww, right?) or chocolate cupcakes I'd made the day before with Grandma.
Supper (dinner) that night was usually simple, since the main meal on Sunday was Dinner (lunch). Sometimes my mom would make vegetable beef soup, which always stressed me out. I'd eat the vegetables separately but not on the same spoonful (I know, somewhat OCD'ish), so I'd spend dinner (supper) first eating all the corn, then all the lima beans, then all the potatoes, then all the carrots, and etc...it took forever.
Or Grandpa would pop corn on the stove for supper (dinner). First, he would melt a bunch of the leftover bacon grease from breakfast (depression-era, waste not, want not), then he would throw in a handful of kernels. After he popped the corn, he'd pour butter over it and then salt it. Their cat loved it, and we'd entertain ourselves by throwing popped kernels at him, until Grandpa got mad because we were wasting food. The cat's name was Honky and he was pure black. Ironic, I know. He'd actually belonged to my Aunt JoEllen, who'd been a huge Elton John fan, jump back, honky-cat....So his full name was Honky-Cat.
If you made it this far in my post, I commend you. I'm sure this was completely boring and I thank you for sticking with it. If you're a member of my family....weren't those good times?
I'll post about the headless chicken another time, promise.