Continued from Recording Grandmother Edith's Life. Reading my Grandmogther's memories of a childhood spent outdoors reminded me of a post Sparrow wrote recently, Unplugged from Nature. Few children now in America (or Korea) grow up with such a connection to nature that my Grandmother had. Makes me a little sad.
1. What is your earliest childhood memory?
It was in Denver, where we went to live for a couple of years. I was probably around 3. We went somewhere in the mountains, possibly to a game reserve--not a zoo, I think. A big animal came up to the gate, and I was frightened, even though there was a fence between. It was a moose or elk, and to a little girl, very large. So I guess fear makes memories!
2. Describe the personalities of your family members.
My brother, Jack, was a terrible tease, not in an affectionate way, but to get a rise out of someone. He was enterprising, making things and trading them off for something else. He was outgoing and liked people. My sis, Mary, was one who laughed a lot. She had such a friendly way about her, and I heard many times that "Mary has a wonderful disposition". No one described me that way! Being an older sister, she was often bossy. She was enthusiastic about school and activities, and shared them with anyone who would listen. Donald was a studious boy. I think Solomon must have been like him--always watching ant hills and being interested in nature. He was an excellent student. Alice, or Babe, as we called her, was quiet, but humorous. She was very pleasant to be around. She was very pretty, and had some of the same enterprising characteristics as Jack, and Mary, too. My Dad was a lot like my brother, Donald, or Craig in personality. He was verbally affectionate, and a pat on the head was a sign of love. He loved words, and liked to use them. He had a flair for the dramatic, I think. My mother was very quiet, as were many of the Peck family. She was a hard worker, very undemanding of us children. She knew how to take a break and do a bit of reading. She had a resentful nature, perhaps, but she was very easy to be around--definitely not an "in your face " type.
3. What kind of games did you play growing up?
We played Hide and Seek, Cowboys and Indians (I always wanted to be theIndian), Hopscotch, Jumping Competitions with neighbor kids, Let's Pretend, Baseball or Workup, Bingo, Jacks, and Hide the Thimble.
4. What were your favorite toys and why?
We didn't have toys.
5. What were your favorite things to do for fun?
My favorite things to do for fun was drowning out gophers. We poured water down one hole and our dog, "Pup", caught them coming out and made short work of them. We cut off their tails, and saved them in a matchbox, and got money for them at the County Seat! Gathering cow chips in gunny sacks for burning in the summertime is top of the list, too. The Meadowlarks often had their nests in the high grass around the cowpile, and it was a delight to me to find them and to leave them unmolested, as Mother had taught us. I liked to follow the plow barefooted in the cool furrows, and pick up the angle worms for fishing on the "crick". I was an avid fisherman--not the fancy fly-fishing, but the cork kind. It was so exciting to see the cork begin to wobble or to go under, and then to heave them onto the bank. They were mostly Catfish or Bullheads. Camping out and fishing on the cheyenne River, was pure enjoyment. I remember the "Mourning Doves". Rain in South Dakota was a blessing, and we used to go out in our undies and get thoroughly wet! I liked to head for Red Top, the big hill behind our house to find the first crocus. In 6th grade, I got the prize for bringing the first crocus to class. It was a candy bar and a real treat. We used to hike up over Red Top to go swimming in Hot Brook. I absolutely loved walking on stilts, over the rough turrain, even. I loved to read books--still do! We used to make dolls out of Hollyhock blossoms, and made chains out of pine needles. Hiking over the hills was a favorite thing, too, and in spring, we gathered wildflowers, Blue Bells, Shooting Stars, and Wild Roses. I loved Sheep Shearing Time. It as noisy and hot, but everyone was there, and the women fixed mountains of food for everyone. My uncle Murel was the South Dakota champion, and Cousin Paul was not far behind. When we moved to Hot Springs, we went to movies in the auditorium at the State Soldiers Home, where my Dad worked, every Monday and Friday night--wonderful Musicals and Westerns.
6. Did you have family chores? What were they? Which were your least favorite? Most favorite?
This question makes me blush. Mary and I did dishes, helped Mother some in the kitchen, but did little else. My Mother worked too hard as the eldest of 8, and she let us off easy, as a result. The gopher and cow chip activities would fit in here, but they were such fun that I didn't realize they were work until I was grown. We use to help Dad plant potatoes and squash seeds, which was also fun. We had to pick off potato bugs from the vines, and squash the yellow eggs on the under side of the leaves--my least favorite job, or was it staking out the goats? In winter we would shuck the corn off the ears by hand. In early spring we would go along the drainage from a spring, I think, and gather early dandelions for mother to cook for greens. There you are with a vignette of my life. My childhood was wonderful.