Sunday, December 22, 2019

Growing Up Christmas, Part 2

We continue the stories from Christmas long ago.
At the feed mill, my Dad would let me play with his adding machine, which had large type bars which came up when you pulled the handle. I liked putting in all nines, so the bars would come all the way up. Eventually, the noise would be too much and he would tell me I could go sweep the warehouse.   Now this was a code word to me that I could go play. He only let me sweep when we weren’t busy at the feed mill. If you have never been to a feed mill, there was dust everywhere.  So I would go out and tell my brothers that Dad said we could sweep.  We would all fight over the big broom, but would all grab one and start sweeping.  The feed mill had beautifully finished hardwood floors, which would have been suitable for a fine town home, and therefore were easy to sweep. Once we had gathered up all of the dust, we knew we had time for some play.
There were moving dollies or hand trucks that were used to stack large bags of feed to be moved to and from the dock.  The ones at the feed mill were made of wood with metal reinforcements and a metal tongue for stacking.  They were excellent at rolling young children to and fro on a newly-swept hardwood floor. Wayne and Denny would take turns rolling each other and me, although they often would roll me into a wall of bags.  We would all laugh and continue to play until a customer drove up, or Dad gave us another assignment.
If Mom had to go to town to finish shopping without the prying eyes of children, Dad would take us to lunch at the Cedar Hill Grill later known as the Golden Point Restaurant and Motel. Charles B. and Lucille Fulks Powell ran the service station on Highway 41 in Cedar Hill. In the early 1950s they added a motel and small restaurant that was named Cedar Hill Grill and Motel. Many of the local residents remember the restaurant and motel.  It was famous for the good country cooking and homemade pies. Mrs. Powell made all of the pies from her own recipes even down to the crust. Pecan, Chocolate, Coconut, and fruit pies were often on the menu. The restaurant when full to capacity, which was most of the time, held 35 people.
Wayne, Denny and I usually got hamburgers and fries, while Dad often ordered a regular plate lunch. We almost always got dessert, which for me was a slice of warm pecan pie with ice cream. I can still remember some of the conversations between my Dad and brothers at lunch. 
Once we headed back to the feed mill, we would enjoy all of the wonderful farmers who traded with my Dad. We had a great opportunity to know so many extraordinary people, who played such a large part in our lives.
I’ve already shared my shopping experience at Gregg’s 5 and 10. The way this secretive shopping worked was I brought all of the items to the front, while my Mom shopped in another part of the store.  My purchases would be rung up, bagged and held until my Mom finished.  My total was six dollars. I had purchased over ten items, including a large plastic flute for my brother, Denny, a stuffed dog for my sister, Beverly, a tie clip for my brother, Joe, and a checker game for my brother, Wayne.  When we got home, I knew that I had to hide the flute from Denny, (he had a reputation of sneaking under the tree) so I stuck it inside a paper towel cardboard roll and hid it under my pillow.  My sister, Beverly, helped me wrap all of the presents (but hers) and label them with tags.  She even helped me wrap the flute, which I hid under my pillow again, so Denny wouldn’t find it under the tree.
Christmas always included lots of friends and family in our house. This meant that where the kids slept often moved from night-to-night. Remember I had hidden Denny’s gift, a red plastic flute, under my pillow to keep him from discovering it. At that time, the Lowe boys slept in bunkbeds made from heavy angle iron. I slept on the bottom bunk and Denny slept on the top bunk, while Wayne and Joe slept in matching bunkbeds on the other wall. With cousins, Uncles and Aunts added to the household, it was always chaotic, but fun.
Somewhere in the hustle and bustle in the days before Christmas, there was wrapping of presents hidden on every bed and table in the household. The resulting trash paper would be bundled up for burning.
Finally, Christmas Eve arrived and it was time for Christmas in the Lowe household. We had a wonderful dinner that definitely included Aunt Martha’s fruit salad, Miss Lucille’s chocolate or caramel pie, and rolls. It seemed that we young kids could move through that wonderful meal in seconds.  “Let’s open presents,” became our refrain.
Minutes seemed like hours as we sat under the tree waiting for the adults to finish their holiday dinner. Occasionally, someone would remind us not to touch the treasures under the Christmas tree.
Finally, everyone would crowd around the living room and the Christmas tree. Every chair would be moved into the room and once everyone was seated, it was time.  Denny and I would be selected to distribute the gifts to the waiting crowd. Every tag was read aloud.  Wayne would help me with the poorly written names. There were gifts from “Guess Who?”  This usually meant they were from Aunt Martha and Uncle Kenny.
Once the gifts were distributed, we started with the youngest child and worked our way to the oldest. At this point in time I was the youngest and began to discover the wonderful treasures in my pile.  I remember among this year’s gifts a wind-up lion toy, a peppermint stick as thick as my brother’s arm, and a new blue notebook with paper.  We then moved to one of my cousins, then another, then finally time for Denny.
He opened his gifts, thanking the givers, then turning to another package.  As he opened his last gift, I said, “Where’s your present from me?”  As we looked again under the tree, and everyone examined their pile.  I remembered it was hidden under my pillow.  Running to the bunk bed and feeling under my pillow, there was no present. We looked all around the bedroom and someone suggested they had picked up some red paper from the bedroom and discarded it in the trash can. Our search went to the trash can. There was no flute.  We finally decided it had been thrown away and burned in our trash pile earlier that day.
Although Denny was not upset, I described his red flute in great detail. Fortunately, we are able to laugh about that little red flute even today.
May your family have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Remember to share your memories with your family. 

1 comment:

Shelby Bender said...

Loved your story. We have a hand cart similar to the one you took rides on from our fertilizer plant. It now has a resting spot on my front porch along with a set of scales.

J. Mark Lowe
J. Mark Lowe Reviews
Springfield, Tennessee Speakers
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