Another excerpt from Mama’s book, I Remember:
When I was 16 we lived on a farm north of Chadwick, Missouri.
Dad came home from buying groceries one day and told me the grocer’s wife had asked if Mom or I would like to do some washing for her. He told her Mom wasn’t well, but he would ask me. I said I would, and showed up at her house at 8 o’clock the next morning. She took me to an empty room that had piles of dirty clothes all over it. I neer saw so many dirty clothes in my life. On a bench in the middle of the room stood a wash tub and wash board. I washed clothes for two days. I don’t know when I have ever been more tired. At the end of the two days when I finished, she asked me if I wanted to put my pay on our grocery bill or did I want it in cash. I told her I wanted the cash and she gave me $3.00.
I probably should have put it on the bill, but I was just a kid and I had done an awful lot of washing for that $3.00.
Several things strike me about this story from Mama’s book. One is that the amount of laundry may have looked especially huge to Mama because her family was poor, so they probably had very few clothes.
This story also reminds me that Mama was never afraid of hard work, and apparently she was that way all her life. But then, when you were as poor as her family was, I don’t think anyone in the family probably had the opportunity to be lazy — they all had to work hard just to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.
And finally it strikes me that this kind of childhood was wonderful preparation for her adult life. Nothing life threw at Mama as an adult really rocked her, because of her hard-scrabble childhood.