Saturday, February 5, 2011

I couldn't wring out the mop ...

Daddy had his big workshop in the backyard.  If Daddy was home and the tractor was home, we'd normally find Daddy in 'the shop'.  Although the tractors could be driven into the shop, normally only the front half or back half of the tractor would be actually in the shop.  Rain or shine, 100 degrees or 28 degrees, hurricane or drought, Daddy would spend much of his time working on his farm equipment either in or in front of his shop. That is, unless he was in the field, out on the tractor, or preparing the crop to sell.

Daddy and me.  The 'little shop' is visible over Daddy's shoulder.

Behind the shop was the 'little shop'.  The little shop was a lean to, attached to the back of the shop.  It had a concrete floor and a door in both sides of it.   Growing up, I never questioned the name 'little shop' or why it was built.  It was just there, part of the farm.  It had its share of kittens and puppies born in it.  Who knows how many litters of mice began their life there!

Behind the dog is the little shop, door wide open.

Later on, after I was grown, I learned that the little shop was built for George and Jimmy.  Jean was younger than George and Jimmy.  Jean would take it over as her play house, using a broom to chase George and Jimmy away when she was in it.  I vaguely remember stories of them riding their bikes in it, pestering Jean.  No wonder she chased them with her broom! (I hope all my brothers will add memories of the little shop to the blog.)  

Jean with her doll, Jimmy, and George in January 1953

By the time I came along, Harold and Donald were using the shop a little but I have no memory of what they did there.  George and Jimmy had a horse named Tony and I would pick the seed stalks of the St. Augustine grass that grew in the yard of the 'little house' (next door - another story). I'd use rubber bands to make huge bundles of the seed stems, convinced that I was saving up food for Tony.  I was so proud of myself.  I'd store the 'hay' in the little shop and would take out a bundle at a time to feed to Tony.  I don't remember Tony ever eating any, which is not surprising. But back then, I was sure that I was helping out by saving food for Tony.  I'm sure my huge bundles of 'hay' would have measured almost an inch around if you cheated and used a stretched out measuring tape.  But in my mind, they were huge.
George and me on a horse (maybe Tony)

I began using the little shop as my play house when Harold and Donald outgrew it.  I would normally play in the little shop with Sandra and Stanley. We'd use wooden crates to separate the room into more rooms, so our house would have every room needed.  A 3' x 3' room was a large living room to us!  A living room, kitchen, dining room, bedroom; it had it all.  A broom was essential of course. After all, it was our house and we wanted it clean.  We spent more time cleaning it and arranging it than we ever did playing in it after it was set up the way we wanted it.  When I could, after I swept it I'd get a bucket and mop to mop the concrete floor.  The sopping wet mop frustrated me. When Mother was busy with the farm, Allie Mae would often clean house for her.  I had watched Allie Mae's strong hands wring out mops so many times that I knew what the mop should look like when I set it down on the floor.  I didn't work for me.  I couldn't wring out the mop.  I tried and tried.  It stayed sopping wet.  One time as I was wrestling with the mop, trying to get the water out, I heard Allie Mae talking to someone in front of the big shop.  I carried my mop around and asked her to wring out my mop for me.  I remember wanting to be sure she didn't think I was 'using' her and carefully explained that I had watched her wring out mops and no one could wring out a mop like she could and that I couldn't and my floor had puddles of water from my mop and would she please wring out my mop for me so my floor ...  She smiled and wrung it out for me.  Each time I dipped it back into my bucket, I'd pull it back out and carry it around to the front of the shop to ask Allie Mae to wring it out again.  

When I was out there, it was OUR house and I was proud of it.  If I was being my mean older sister self and we weren't getting along, I considered it MY house. By then it was getting a little older and probably was leaning a bit.  You could see through the boards of the door.  But it was ours and I was proud of it.

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