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Upon Their Hands They Will Carry you
Page 5

Still Water Runs Deep

Rod and I moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma during a rain storm to have dropped eleven inches of water on the little college town in only one day. The realization of why the town was named Stillwater was being made clear to us. We almost didn't want to tell the utility people our name: “Flood.”

This was before the town had cleared the grown-up tree lined creeks. A surge such as this caused the streams to flood and spread out over the lowest areas of the town. This was certainly a dank, damp, difference than where we had been living atop a hill in Osage County on the prairie. Guaranteed, no floods ever ravished that area. Rodney was having to take alternate routes around the town to avoid streets under water. My mind was not wishing to accept these conditions but the decision had been made for my husband to get an education so I kept quiet and did not complain. Years later great concrete run offs keep this from happening.

The overseer of the small Stillwater congregation brought over a couple and their new baby so they could find shelter with us away from their rain soaked area. This young mother stayed with me for a day until they could get back into their flooded trailer. I couldn't even imagine how miserable it was to go back into that tiny, soaked place but they wouldn't accept our offers for them to stay overnight.

She was a tall, lovely, willowy looking girl with an aristocratic bearing but she didn’t seem to be overly nervous about her predicament. Our hide-a-bed in the living room would have been comfortably dry for the couple. These were youthful people and already the philosophy, “stand on your own feet,” must have been implanted into their thinking because my hospitality was politely refused.

Rodney applied for the G.I. bill. It wouldn't come through right away and was only 175.00 a month. I went to work at a dry good store rather than work as a reporter on the paper. I had no camera which was necessary for that work.

Rodney brought Rhonda to me between his classes and on my breaks so I could nurse her. Mother was with us most of the time so she could help with Rhonda. His uncle Ross gave him a job on Saturdays at his cattle sales lot. It paid ten dollars a day so that added another forty dollars a month to our income. Mother was working at night in a small cafe on the south side of town.

I was still not strong and was battling infections after the difficult birth. Sometimes, it was hard for me to get through a chore without having to stop, sit down and wait until the pain subsided. Diapers were washed by hand since we had no machine. I learned the sun would bleach them white. Youth, strength and will, along with antibiotics soon allowed me to get better.

Mother saw how we were struggling so she moved us to a bigger house. She and Dad took care of the rent which was then, sixty dollars a month. The property our land lady purchased was just for rental purposes. It had been part of a farm. The place was bought from a couple who must have been very industrious. All kinds of jars with canned preserved fruits and vegetables were held in the cellar.

When the new owner and land lady came to collect the rent, I showed her the cellar and asked if we could use the food. Mrs. Wigley was agreeable and admitted to not knowing it was there. She said she wouldn't use it anyway. The frugal farmer's wife who once owned the house had even canned bean sprouts and they were delicious besides being so good for us.

Another farmer left corn at the edge of the field for gleaners as people used to do. Rodney asked him if we could pick it and the man was okay with that. The corn was totally dried and hard. Husks were already dried and rattled while we stripped it from the stalks. The farmers used dried corn on the cob like this to feed their stock.

Mother taught me how to break the husk with lye sprinkled into a tub of water. She always carefully used the dangerous solution of potassium hydroxide which can burn skin or blind a person if it splashes up into an eye. After many washing’s while wearing rubber gloves, the corn became hominy and it was better than any I had ever tasted. Since there was a quantity of it we canned many jars.

Rhonda was still not strong. She couldn't hold down breast milk, at times. There must have been pain. She cried a lot. Many nights were spent in the found, rickety rocking chair. We loved her though, and did everything to make her comfortable. She enjoyed warm baths, so I always gave her a number of baths a day. Today she has her own spa. The warm, moving water is relaxing to her. The baby couldn't hold her head up and couldn't sit up at all but I sewed for her and she always looked like a little princess.

Rodney's mother sewed, too, She made me three beautiful light cotton dresses of dark, lovely colors which I wore, Sundays, to the meetings. When we had to attend conventions, I sewed my own clothes. Life was good and I never felt impoverished.

There were only eleven of us in attendance for the meetings at the small upstairs room. Mother, my little sister and brother, along with four couples all met together. We were the pioneers of the now large, elegant Stillwater congregation.

Navigating the long, steep steps with baby, diaper bag, and study material, I remember, was a challenge. In the group was the young couple we had met when their trailer was flooded so we already felt we had friends. Our following the songs without accompaniment by an instrument might have been laughable if each and every one of us wasn’t trying so hard to stay on tune with our singing. While engaged in presenting one of the six minute speeches I was counseled for saying, “uhhh” 16 times. I guess the ministry school conductor had been counting them. I looked to the back of the room where my new friend was with her baby. Her sweet smile was a salve to the curtness of the council by a young man from another part of the country. We were conected with the new duties we had to our babies and that was pleasant, too.

The overseer and his wife were past their youth but still very active. He was a stocky man, with partially graying hair who dressed in conservative clothing. The man was not tall but his health and pleasant manner made him a likable person. His wife was a tiny bit of a woman about the size of a twelve year old girl. We became friends with the overseer and his spouse and spent many hours enjoying their companionship in one activity or another.

An invitation to dinner one evening in their unbelievably small, tear drop camper trailer which was parked in a vacant lot was so nice, we thought. A rich overgrowth of trees made the space like a hidden, little secret garden nicely tucked into a private area someone of wealth might have paid a great fortune to enjoy. Their tiny radio with the volume turned low played nice music and seemed to be in the background, although, in reality it was in the same room with us.

For our meal this tiny little woman fried two potatoes for the four of us. One can of Tuna fish for a sandwich, a sliced up onion on our plate along with iced tea was wonderful, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed any food or association as much. Mother kept Rhonda at home and this was as good as a night out for us. We did not linger though and when dishes were cleaned up we said our good-by's. After that I made it my business to always share our food with the couple. They loved Mother's hot rolls, cinnamon rolls and other delectable things she cooked.

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