Tuesday, December 30, 2008

After reading Farmergeeks response on his blog about the Boy Scout books, it somehow reminded me of my youth. Nope, I was never a scout, but I had always wanted to be one. I wanted to wear that uniform, I wanted to go on outings, have friends, and learn from them, but it never happened for several reasons. One, my parents never liked to drive anywhere other than work or to the store. Two, they could never have afforded anything I would have needed to be in the scouts. And three, dad always said they were wimps, lol, I imagine he couldnt get in either...grumpy old fart. Plus I was a very nervous kid..really withdrawn,shy, and afraid of everything. Hard to belive ain't it??? lol
While growing up, I never learned any of the wilderness survival skills in the scout books like making a shelter or tying knots, but I learned a lot from just living, even though at the time I didn't realize it. I learned to garden, I learned to shoot and hunt, I learned to fish, I learned how to preserve food, and I learned how to live on next to nothing. Times were hard at home, nearly my entire youth was spent from check to check by my parents barely making ends meet.At that time in the late 60's and early 70's, concrete guys just plain didnt work in the winter, so dad was always layed off. To understand where I'm coming from, I'll go into a little detail:

I grew up with my mom, dad, and sister on 3 acres in a small township in the same county I live in now. Our house was a 3 room basement home. NOT 3 bedrooms, 3 ROOMS...kitchen, living room, backroom, thats it. We slept in the same room as our parents on bunkbeds till I was about 12, when dad seperated the 2 rooms. Heat in the house was via an oil burning stove in the center of the living room,no ductwork, just radiant heat.(so even though we had our own room, we had to keep the door open when it was cold) We had well water attached to a kitchen sink and a washing machine, and that was all. We bathed in an old galvanized washtub with hot water from the sink. Our toilet was an indoor outhouse of sorts, inside a closet in the backroom. Basically just a frame with a seat and bucket underneath, with a matching real outhouse behind the old shed that was about 80 yards from the house.In the evenings after dark, dad carried that bucket to the outhouse, 365 days a year. We finally got a real bathroom with a tub, shower, and toilet when I was 15, so we (sis and I)thought we were rich. We had a black and white tv attached to a 25 foot antenna tower dad scrounged from a jobsite, with a grand total of 5 stations. (anyone else remember antenna rotors?) I believe I was around 18 or 19 when we got basic cable.I remember an old rotary phone in the house till around '85 as well. The flat tar roof leaked, the floor was almost always damp, the bare block walls cold, and the place always smelled of heating oil and Hoppes gun cleaner. (though I still love the smell of Hoppes, lol)

Food was always a big issue. During the warmer months, we ate what we deemed as "normal" food, though most was the cheapest cut available, and usually other things from the dented can bins at the local Sparkle Market. We busted our asses with a decent sized garden all summer, and I grew to hate it as a kid. I remember many days of pushing myself and my sister through green briar to pick blackberries, as well as wild grapes, so mom could make jellies and jams to can or freeze. (I still hate freezer jam though!) We never had any animals other than beagles, so our only meat source other than the store (when dad was working) was hunting. I can't begin to imagine how many meals we had that were duck, squirrel, or rabbit. At the time there were still pheasants in this part of Ohio, and we were always excited to bag one since it meant a good sized dinner. I think the worst time we had was one winter when dad and I set off hunting on Thanksgiving morning hoping to get a pheasant so we didn't have to have rabbit for dinner. Luckily we got one that day .

Funny how life works, isn't it? Most of my life I hated the way I grew up and resented my parents for making us live that way. We were "forced" to help around the house and garden. We had to use an outhouse when everyone else had a real bathroom. We had to watch an old b&w tv when the neighbors had color, remote control AND cable! All through my teens 20's,and early 30's, I pulled myself as far away from that life as I could, buying and doing everything I could, just because I could. But here I sit, typing and thinking about all of this and realize something. I'm going back to that way of life on purpose. It makes me chuckle to think about it, but it also makes me kinda sad. I wasted all that time trying to ignore who/what I really am. It took me all this time to find myself, but I made it. Without my childhood, and without Lisa's encouragement I would never be where I am now.....make that-WE would never be where WE are now.Without going into any detail, she grew up ver similar in a house not much bigger with FOUR siblings...and I thought I had it tough! Sometimes I write in this blog like it's all me, but it's far from it. Lisa had taken every step right beside me the whole way,taking this incredible journey of lifestyle change that we are on.
Though they'll never see this, thank you mom and dad for making me who I am today, and thank you Lisa for your love and encouragement. You are my guiding light down this path to self sufficiency.

4 comments:

Patrice Farmer said...

Wow...that is definately a childhood to reflect on. I didn't grow up like that but I remember shopping at what my mom called the "Grab", which is a thrift store but without the clothes hung up, you have to sift through it...I remember growing a large garden and watching our friends ride their bikes while we tilled our garden for a few years before she bought a tiller...and I remember getting a head to toe tomato rash from eating so many tomatoes...my sister is still allergic to this day. Man, you have alot to be grateful for and there's nothing wrong with taking the good from our childhood and using it now. Those days can prove very important in the coming years. Nice post.

Chris W said...

Thanks Patrice. It's funny how I never realized I was learning...we thought it was slave labor from us kids, lol.
We never got thrift store clothes for some reason, but we did get new usually at Christmas and sometimes at Easter. Of course, most of those had to last through the year, so knees were patched till there was nothing to attach a patch to. After that, mom would sew 2 pairs together at the knees....yea nothing like going to school in 2 color courds when everyone else got nice new school clothes. But, funny yet again, I get my work clothes at Goodwill now since I refuse to buy new and have them ruined in weeks.

FarmerGeek said...

Hey man, thanks for sharing that. Makes me think of my childhood too. Nowhere near the same level of anything, but...

Trust me, scouting was a good thing, and I learned a lot from it. But the skills you learned are much more useful, or at least to what you are doing now.

Anyways, I'm rambling, thanks for sharing, man.

FG

a.rogue said...

Hey Chris - Thanks for this post - That "wasted" time also contributed to where you are now so don't beat yourself up over it. Even a negative lesson can be valuable and make you all the more determined.
All the best,
ARP

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