from Outside Privies and Dinner Pails, A Living History of Southwest Iowa

Cousins Calling Card

By Walter Harrison of Jefferson, Iowa

Born 1924

      I was born in western Iowa in 1924, and I grew up during the Great Depression, a time when money was scarce, family was important, and more often than now, people were required to make their own entertainment.

      My dad’s mother had eight brothers and sisters, so Dad had “cousins by the dozens” and one of the highlights of the year was the Persinger Family Reunion.

      There is much that I have forgotten, but I can still remember some names: Harold and Abner, Cy and Ralph, Ross, Lonnie, Harriet, Maude and Myrtle, Charlie and Hugh, and of course others.

      They could have been known as the “fun-loving gang,” visiting family on Sunday afternoon was important, necessary, and a wonderful diversion.

      I can remember coming home late once. Dad and Mom went immediately to see to their duties: feed the stock and make supper.

      Those were the days before grain was fed from a feed conveyor or auger wagon. Dad used a pail or bushel basket. This night, he could find neither in their usual places.

      He started back toward the house as Mom came out. As usual, she had lit the fire in the cook stove, but instead of going up the chimney, the smoke had filled the kitchen.

      Dad knew immediately what had happened and where his basket was. Some of his cousins had come calling while we were away and left their “calling card.” By using the ladder usually kept under the front porch, they had climbed up and put the basket over the chimney!

      Yes, lots of people made their own fun in the “Good Ol’ Days!”

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