from Penny Candy and Grandma's Porch Swing, A Living History of North Central Pennsylvania
Ironing Boards and Yellow Spots
By Lois Bamonte of Williamsport, Pennsylvania
My sister and I were country kids during the Depression, and everyone in our village loved Mr. Crossly, our rural mail carrier. On Mother’s pie baking day, she would place a piece of pie on a saucer with a fork and we kids would put it in the mailbox. She always reminded us to put the flag up so he would know there was something in the box. What fun we had, watching him eat his pie! (We were behind the curtains.) He would put the flag down and drive away with a smile on his face. I’m eighty-five years old and I still remember Mr. Crossly—especially that smile!
Things I remember: Mother heating irons on her kitchen cook stove, wrapping them in towels to warm our beds in the winter.
Mother had an ironing board with no legs, okay for ironing flat pieces, but when it came to Daddy’s shirts, she had to extend the board from the table. No matter what we were doing, we had to stop to sit on the ironing board. Since there were two of us, we had to take turns. How I hated sitting on the ironing board—but Daddy had some beautifully ironed shirts.
Daddy raised chickens and when they laid lots of eggs, we kids would take one egg each to the store. The lady who owned the store gave us candy in exchange for the eggs. We were using the barter system and didn’t even realize it. Most candy was two pieces for a penny, so we each got two pieces of candy. What a thrill for us!
Mother used to make us snow ice cream. She would give us a pan and tell us, “Don’t get the snow where the yellow spots are.” It was quite a while before we realized that the neighborhood dogs were the reason for the yellow spots.
Mother played Santa Claus at our school Christmas parties. It was years before we learned that she was our Santa Claus. Imagine what she thought when we always declared that we had been good little girls. She must have been chuckling under her whiskers.
On the way home from Grandma’s, we decided to play follow the leader. My sister was the leader, and suddenly she said, “Close your eyes!” I pinched my eyes shut and found—to my dismay—she had spotted a dollar bill in the grass and was afraid I would see it before she did. Needless to say, we each got fifty cents, a good amount of money to us.
Our Sunday school class was having a summer picnic halfway up the mountain in a nice open spot. My playmate, Bob, coerced his mother to let him take his wagon to the picnic. She was not keen on him taking his wagon, but he pestered her until she finally agreed to let him take it. While playing a game, I stepped in a hole and sprained my ankle. So, I got to ride home in the wagon.
I treasure every memory, and sometimes it’s hard to realize I’m this old…but I had so much fun I didn’t realize I was growing old. I’m still enjoying my life—going to McDonalds every day with a childhood friend. We call it our “therapy” session. We’re both widows and enjoy the kids and the people who come to McDonalds. So fortunate to have reached this age: still healthy and going strong! Enjoying every day of life.