There's a lot of stuff that reaches our young ears that we never understand until many years later. It's amazing how some comments really stick with you. If you are fortunate enough to be able to ask your parents what was happening in their lives at the time, you have to be prepared for the answers. Sometimes it's not what you thought.
When looking at old photo albums, my mom always said, "You guys looked like tramps." I know that sometimes our situation in life was not always pleasant for her. But, we didn't know we looked any different than anyone else. We didn't care. Maybe everyone else dressed like we did. No designer outfits for us.
I remember receiving a hand-me-down shirt and pair of cut off jeans from one of my cousins, a boy cousin. I wore that outfit to death. It was perfect for climbing trees. It was probably a nice store-bought hand-me-down. All our dress up outfits for the holidays were sewed by my other. With no patterns.
When I look at this photo, I can see that we could have been mistaken for tramps.
In the summer of 2019, we celebrated my Aunt Alivina and Uncle Herman's wedding anniversary. I think it was their 60th. Prior to the big event, the family hunted for photos for the photo board at the party. My cousin Julie was kind enough to send me a shot of this photo she found in her mom's collection. I LOVE IT and I had never seen it before.
This old black and white photo of my mother holding my cousin, Robin, with me smiling by her side, was priceless. I do not know what the occasion or place was. It could have been a picnic. We are sitting on a bench probably manufactured just for the day from a 2x6 or 8-inch board and what looks like Standard Oil-branded buckets.
My face is very sober in most of the photos I've seen, but today I am smiling. It must have been a happy day. There were, not looking like tramps, but like every other little girl and her mom in the 1960s. If I had to guess, it would be about 1962-3ish. (I'm sure if one of my cousins reads this post, they will correct me if I am wrong.)
I love this photo. It's the only one I have from that decade with my mom and myself - no one else from my immediate family. And, she looks so beautiful with a slightly dreamy look on her face. Like she is thinking deeply about something. Check out her shoes. And, both of us in polka dots.
I interviewed my mom for one of my books. The answers to some of the questions I asked about those days were not the easiest to hear. As much as our memories weed out the worst of the days, life was sometimes complicated. Unbeknownst to us, we had to make do with what we had. It wasn't much for such a large family.
But we lived an adventure. We ran wild in our small community, my dad having moved off the farm before I was born. We butchered chickens, inspected bugs and animals, and played games with imagination only. It was a great life and one that my grandchildren will NEVER experience. As for this photo, it makes me happy and brings memories of my mom to closer to my heart.
No, I don't recall my grandmother ever serving cranberries. My mother, of course, slid them from a can. As children, we loved those wiggly slices of semi-sweet fruit called cranberry.
'Tis the season of cranberry and harvest time ends in November. Most cranberries grow in the bogs of Cape Cod (Massachusetts), New Jersey, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, and the Maritime Provinces of Canada. After harvest cranberries are bagged, juiced, or as aforementioned cooked with sugar and stuffed into a can.
Oh yeah, those little tart berries, like our North Dakota's chokecherries, need to have sugar added to make them palatable. Of course, the native population used them in combo with dried venison and fat to ma,e pemmican. The Pequot Indians of Cape Cod called them ibimi, meaning bitter berry.
Cranberries were wild until about 1816 when the pilgrims and the rest of us began grooming them as a crop. Cranberries were used to prevent scurvy (remember scurvy from history class?) and have since been proclaimed a superfood with anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant compounds.
Sure, your children might enjoy them more from a can, but you can make your version of superfood cranberry sauce by following the directions on the back of the bag.
Basic sauce merely is sugar and water and cranberries and a wee bit of time. You can add to your "relish" with other in-season fruit like oranges, lemons or apples. Here is another simple recipe.
Cranberry orange relish
1 pound cranberries
2 small unpeeled oranges, quartered and seeds removed
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Triple Sec or other orange-flavored liqueur (this is optional, as I do not have a stocked liquor cabinet.)
Yield: Makes about 5 cups
Southern Living's website had not one, but 19 recipes for cranberries including this one making use of dried cranberries, or as we call them craisins.
6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
1 small lemon, sliced and seeded
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
NOTE: Dried cranberries can be sourced year-round; a great addition to any salad or cookie or scone recipe you might be cooking up in your kitchen. Be sure and grab a few bags to throw in your freezer to brighten up your entire year with those tasty red berries.
To hear the rest of the story. CLICK here, and you will find the link to the PPB Main Street podcast on the topic of cranberries.
Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.