The hard life
I was born in 1956, the youngest of 12 children. My dad died at age 75 when I was 11, leaving my mom to raise the children. We rented an old farmhouse at $15 a month. The house was divided into two sections, one with bedrooms and a living room, the other with a large kitchen. We heated by wood. Mom would build a fire so we could get up and dressed, then go outside on the porch and into another entrance to build a fire in the kitchen. We did not have any indoor plumbing but did have an outhouse. We drew water from the well pump which set on the porch and used a wringer-type washer. We heated water on the stove to wash clothes and take baths in tin tubs.
Mom fixed a hot breakfast each morning before sending us to school. After school we would join Mom in the fields and work until dark.
We farmed for a neighbor, raising peanuts and sweet potatoes and picking cotton. We raised a large garden and canned everything we could for the winter. Mom also did babysitting for a lot of people.
We didn’t have a car, so we walked to church every service and to the country store for groceries, rain or shine, hot or cold. Neighbors would give us clothes, and we got one pair of shoes a year.
Mom got Alzheimer’s and died November 2001 at the age of 85. There are still seven of us living. Not many people could take that lifestyle today, but I remember it well.