Thursday, July 31, 2008

We Were Not A Picnicking Sort Of People

It's true we were not into picnics. Once a year we would meet for a family reunion (giant picnic) on or near my Grandmother's September 9th birthday. I dreaded September for just that reason. Picnic month.

My Grandmother was a very stern woman or at least she seemed so to a child. She was not demonstrative. My mother instructed each of her four children that we were to kiss our grandmother on the cheek immediately upon arriving at the park. I kissed her, but she scared me witless. You know, as I got older it got easier and I think even Grandmother liked it, a bit.

I should explain why my Grandmother frightened me. She had some very strange "country" practices. As a small child all of the grandchildren experienced warts on their hands. You had to line up in front of Grandmother and one by one submit to having a chicken's foot rubbed on your warts. That was a chicken's foot sans the chicken. It was Grandmother's cure.

My mother was a nurse, for heaven's sake, she knew they were caused by a virus, and she still made us get in line. Even if you didn't have a wart you got the treatment, for the sake of prevention. "It can't hurt you," my Mother would say, "so just stand still." "What about germs," I cried. I was always worried about germs. "Just wash your hands after," she answered. Oh the humiliation. I always prayed no one from school would be in the park and witness Grandmother's voodoo.

Then there was the snake treatment. No, the grandchildren didn't get treated with a snake, the snake got the treatment, if he was foolish enough to be caught and killed. You see, my Grandmother believed that a snake had to see the setting sun to actually die. So my father would have to find a board in the park, nail the "dead" snake to the board, and prop it up facing west, where it would see the setting sun and then die.

Now you have a taste of why I wasn't into picnics. Oh, and there was the taste part. Everything my family prepared was fried, with lard. No wonder most of my family died of coronary artery disease. LARD! I will admit lard did produce the best fried chicken. Now you know where the feet came from.

I did love the iced cold watermelon though. Where I come from we eat our watermelon with salt, not sugar as they did in the wilds of Montana where my husband was raised. Iced cold watermelon and a little salt, now that's a picnic.

It was also picture taking time. All the grandchildren were lined up camera ready. You can see from the photo below that was no easy task. Someone would always make a break for it just as the picture was snapped.

The Cousins

As we got older, the numbers lining up dwindled. You know how it was. They got driver's licenses and dates and the number of grandchildren who lined up became fewer and fewer.

As I look at these photos, I also remember those reunions and all that family could be a lot of fun. Right now, I would let my grandmother rub that old chicken's foot on both hands just to have her here for one more family reunion. I know you understand.



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