Saturday, July 31, 2010

Our stories are worth listening to.

On Saturdays I do things around the house. Some Saturdays I'll have to work a little while, and that's ok. Generally though, Saturdays are for shopping the yard sales early, listening to the Public Radio shows and reading magazines or papers I've not gotten to all week. I like this because it is food for my head. Today I found a metal mixing bowl for my old Kitchen Aid mixer. It had a small dent in the side, but it's just fine. Those bowls cost about $30 and I got it for $5.

When I was a kid Saturdays were when we went to town to get groceries and do shopping. We would leave early and be there just as the stores opened. In a small town Saturdays are as close as you get to traffic. Every business was open, the Courthouse was open and so were all the banks. Now on Wednesday some of these places and all the doctors and dentists were closed. I have friends who live in that small town still and it's the same now on Wednesday.
In the afternoon I would help my grandmother take a bath. Mom would make a cake. My sister would mow the yard and both we girls would take our weekly bath. We didn't have indoor plumbing until I was eight and the way we took a bath was to use the tub in the milk house that was used to wash milk cans. We would each carry a kettle of boiling water and take towels down, partially fill the tub with cold water and add the hot water; one tub and two girls.

This was also the day we washed the car, made sure our clothes for church were clean, pressed and rolled our hair. The one day of he week you were to look your best was Sunday.

Grandmother had been born twenty years after the Civil War. She grew up on a farm in northern Kentucky. She was the oldest of fourteen children and said she had spent her youth taking care of babies. She never went to school past the fourth grade but she loved books. I would read to her. As a kind of exchange she would talk about her life. Grandmother is the person who first told me stories and I have never gotten over listening to people talk about their lives.

Every one has a story. Some have hundreds. Sometimes they won't tell you all their stories, but it is amazing how easy it is to get a story.

Today on "This American Life" the producers of the show chose nine counties in Georgia and divided them amongst their reporters and staff. The reporter visited their assigned county and went into café's, stores or the courthouse and asked a random person, "Who is the most interesting person you know in town?" Sometimes they would have to go to several people because when they got to the one someone recommended, they would suggest another more interesting person! The idea was based on a Charles Salter's newspaper column in the Atlanta Journal in the 1970's entitled "Georgia Rambler."

If you'd like to hear today's "This American Life" go to iTunes and download the podcast for your iPod.

I sometimes type up stories people tell me. I'm not disciplined with this. Usually it will be a couple of paragraphs I put in my journal. Meeting a lot of different people I cannot remember names, but years later if they mention something about their life, I can bring that story up and immediately we're. I'll think, "Oh this is that guy who had the 1965 Mustang and his ex-wife painted it purple one day when she caught him messing with her sister!
It started raining again tonight after dark. All day the temperature was below 90 degrees and humidity was only 50. This week we got strong rain every day but Friday. Usually overnight and I'd wake up at the sound. Nice to go back to sleep listening to rain.

Next week it is predicted to be almost a repeat of this past week; 90+ days and hard rains.


  1. Amazing what you can learn just listening. I told my son the other day that if I really wanted to I could be just like Parker Williams of "In The Heat of the Night". My mom was a waitress for 30 years in two small towns and thru her I came to know many, many, many people and their little idiosyncrasies. It might also explain why I keep to myself more and more as I get older.

  2. I live in a small community where the lives of my patients often overlap. I have many moments where I'll recognize a story or a person from something another patient has told me. It's really true that everyone has a story (or many stories).

    Just to let you know, I had to change the URL for my blog. This avatar links to the new website.

  3. Your Saturday sounds like my childhood Sundays - we used to have to help wash the car, mow the lawn & other odd jobs. I hated doing all this bt now I love Sundays.

    I really enjoy reading your blog as your community is so very different from the cosmopolitan hubbub of Brighton. I'm not sure I'd like living in a small town - I'd like to hear the stories, but I wouldn't want everyone knowing mine!

    I also like that you tell us what the weather is like, though I'm not sure why - do you have bonkers weather where you are?

  4. Secret Agent: I don't see a follow button on that URL. Sigh.

    Urban Cynic: This summer the weather has been over 90 almost every day and rain almost every day. To me it feels tropical. We had high winds twice in 2008 that blew off the roof twice on some homes and in August last year, we got major flooding from a hard rain that was a downpour lasting most of a day.

    I feel I live in a cosmopolitan area. I grew up on a farm outside a small town. I don't care for everyone being involved in my life in small towns.

  5. Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
    And where have you been my darling young one....

    It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

  6. I used to love when my Daddy or his Daddy would tell stories about the family. we were truly a strange bunch..lots to say about a family that has been tossed out of every country since the 1400's..ha

  7. billly pilgrim: I love that song. Bob Dylan sure knows poetry.

    Yellowdog Granny: It must be great to have some interesting people in the family. I asked my grandmother once if there were any scoundrals in our family. She said no, just farmers. Sigh.

  8. Listening is a great skill. I don't think I could get by with one bath a week but than again I probably get by with a lot of other things back than too.

  9. Bathwater: I agree. Having not had indoor plumbing as a child, I sure do appreciate the luxury of being able to bathe whenver I want to.

  10. Yes, we all have a story to tell, some (like you) are better in the telling of it than others, some are sad, and some are nothing short of downright hysterically funny (smile).. but there sure are millions of them out there, if we simply care to look.

    I love the story of how you spent your childhood Sundays, it evokes a time of family closeness, and a wider, tightly-knit community. I was reminded of the old tin bath before the fire, with the water shared according to seniority (I was the fifth in line!). A lovely post, Charlene, well written.


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