Remembering… I “member that”…

When I think about my early life and how to describe it I’m reminded of my daughter when she was small, if you asked her if she remembered something she would reply ” I member that”. Well I like to “member that” too.

The sights and sounds of my early years are still here in my head if I concentrate they come back. I think of our old former homestead shack in the summer and I can feel the almost unbearable heat in the little old shack without any air-conditioning or insulation. You could feel and smell the heat beating in on the roof and the attic with no venting. The heat had a slight mousey smell which blended with the hot air. Mixed in with the heat and the mouse smell was that of dust which in the 1950’s amounted to a fine layer from about 40 years of blowing wind in the attic.

The Crites' Old Home Place in Gildford, Montana

The Old Home Place

In the winter the scene changes with the wind rattling the storm windows and the single pane window behind it with a vengeance. The curtains covering the window on the West especially swayed with the wind inside the house. The windows were all covered with frost as the warm air escaped to the cold air through the cracks. The heat in front of the old wood stove to begin with then the fuel oil stoves later was almost unbearable right in front of the stove itself. About 10 feet away from the stove it was cold. You constantly turned over like a piece of meat on a roasting stick to burn one side then the other. The floor was wood with old linoleum covering it and it was cold wherever you stepped. There were throw rugs on some parts of the floor and you tried to keep on them for warmth. At times the door would freeze solid and you would have to use a hot teakettle and dump water along the cracks to unfreeze it to get it opened in the morning.

A window in the Crites homestead, north of Gildford, MT

The old West window, at least it had glass then..

Of course summer and especially winter the ever present slop jar or slop bucket was handy on the floor of the kitchen so you didn’t have to go out in the elements to relieve yourself. Running water came from someone running or walking to the pump house and coming back with pails of water. The only sink had a drain that went outside but that was no good in the winter at all. Water that was used for dishes or baths had to be brought to the house in pails then after it’s use was dumped outside when you finished. My mother took the water from the used bathwater and dishwater to water a tree or a flower in the summer..

Baby Russ Crites on the floor in the heat of summer

Must have been summer, here I am on the floor..

When it was winter on the old home place we closed off the back room because you couldn’t keep it warm anyway and used the room where the stove was and the kitchen. We slept in the room where the stove was, other times of the year it was labeled the living room. My place in the bed was next to the west window and I can still hear the winter wind moaning and the coyotes howling when it was 30 below. I can still see the curtains move with the wind next to the bed. We darn sure had a lot of covers on the bed because if you didn’t and you were next to the West wall it got very cold by morning. The old home made quilts we had were very heavy, but you surely didn’t throw them off in the middle of the night.

I didn’t think it was so bad or that we weren’t blessed at the time. My folks were just happy they had a house, land to work, and animals to take care of to make a living. I can’t ever remember them feeling sorry for themselves or me thinking we didn’t have things others had. I’m grateful today of where I came from and am Damn proud of the people who raised me. “I member that…”

Standing here "Membering"

Standing here “Membering”

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  1. Nikki Alaee says:

    Great post, Dad. I don’t member saying that, however. 🙂

  2. Slim says:

    That is what you have a parent for..

  3. Susan Bevenger says:

    Great story, Russ! I so admire our parents – they didn’t complain; they just did the work. And work they did!! Our first house in Gildford (below Auntie Lou’s) is gone. I truly did not know if or that we were “poor” financially – we were rich in so many other ways. I believe they were the important ways. I wouldn’t change my growing up years for anything. Thanks for sharing.

    • carl says:

      love all these stories bring back great memories of growing up in Gildford. Glad I did thanks Mom

  4. Slim says:

    Glad I was raised where I was by the people who by today’s standards were poor. But as I look back they were very rich in work ethic, honesty and principles.. I am glad you enjoyed this one Susan and thank you for comin by..

  5. Michelle says:

    Awesome story! My mother was raised this way in Grass Range, Montana in a one room house with 12 kids! Wow! Stories like yours lead me to a deeper appreciation of what her life was like growing up. .Thankyou for sharing!

  6. Slim says:

    Michelle thank you for reading and commenting on all the stories. I really appreciate all your comments and yes growing up in those little shacks with all those kids and work is hard to imagine today. Just makes you appreciate it more as we get a little older..

    • MichelleCoyle says:

      Amen, Amen!

  7. Mary Bolta says:

    My Mom and Dad brought me and my twin brother home from the hospital to a one room tar paper shack in the middle of winter. They already had an 18 month old toddler and no room for two more babies, so they put us to bed in the top drawer of a big dresser that my Dad had built. Th but the story was told and retold.ey left the drawer open a little to give us air and keep us warm at the same time. Then when we were 6 months old Dad went to Ft. Peck to build houses, leaving Mom on the prairie of southwest Montana with 3 babies. It was the middle of the depression and you did what you had to do. Can’t say I “member” this but the story was told every time someone complained about not having something. Keep on musing!

  8. Slim says:

    Thank you Mary for that story. We don’t know how good we have it now, until we remember where we came from. I appreciate you taking the time to write this. Thank you.

  9. Rod Mebius says:

    Your story brings back thoughts of the old house I grew up in in South Dakota. Pretty much the same situation as what you had.

  10. Slim says:

    Thank you for your comment Rod. Glad I stirred some memories..

  11. Joy says:

    Sounds just like how I grew up in California 0 love your blogs

  12. Slim says:

    thank you for dropping by, keep coming back.. I appreciate your time..

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