© By Abraham Lincoln
Ohio summers feature heat and humidity and our winters are cold with snow and ice. In the olden days we had no inside air conditioning so people opened the windows when it was hot and sticky and closed them when it was raining or cold and windy. To help make ends meet and put food on the table, a lot of us gathered dandelion leaves and ate them for a meal without meat.
We survived The Great Depression and ended up with nothing but a roof over our heads. The fellas sitting next to you didn’t have anything in their pockets except thin spots and lint. My mom couldn’t afford to buy a penny post card and didn’t expect letters from relatives at home in the hills and hollows of Summers County West Virginia. She really missed her kin back home around Hinton where her Ballengee name was still famous—I think she missed it because she seldom talked about it.
Weather was what people talked about when they loafed at the grocery store where we all got our mail. If it was hot outside it was hot inside so people had little to say about the weather that everybody knew about. If you had juicy gossip it would attract an audience like television does today.
Conversations were anchored in local bits of information and were not about an event that happened to somebody in another town. You might say, “Did you hear the story about Charley Brown?” Heads turned waiting for the story: “He ran off with his neighbor, Mrs. Hopper. ”
The sky was blue and the sunshine was brilliant. It was cloudy before it rained and you could see the rain coming across a field of corn and you could hear it pelting the leaves. Rain hitting the tin roof above my bed was wonderful and put me to sleep almost instantly.
Our air was a lot cleaner back then and the sky was always blue unless a storm was coming.
I never heard of people being allergic to anything in the environment except poison ivy. I don’t think there were very many mosquitoes because I never heard of anything to rub on before going outside to keep the mosquitoes off.
Our long underwear came off in the spring and mothers washed them and hung them on the clothesline to dry. Mom hung her wash out in the winter and the clothes froze dry in cardboard-like positions. Mom had to bring them in the house to thaw out and finish drying before they were stored away for the summer. She hoped they still fit when autumn’s frosty mornings returned and school started over.
Big orange pumpkins sat on porches with carved out faces and scared little kids determined to play tricks on neighbors to get a piece of candy and soon forgot to yell “Trick or Treat!”
In late summer those parents who had money began to go to town on Saturday nights to buy a new pair of clodhoppers for boys and white cotton hose for the girls. Parents talked about the start of school — we had to try on this and that to see if it still fit and most of the time it didn’t.