Tales of Little Ruthie: The Silverware Fights

Front Page, Personal History

            Summers were difficult in our house.  Mother and Daddy worked every day.  Ola and Jeanie were married with their own kids, so that left the three of us at home.

            By the three of us, I mean Junior my brother who I thought was an idiot but later figured out that this wasn’t always true.  Sometimes he was smarter than me, if anybody can believe that.  I know I found it hard to believe when he would put one over on me.  The second of the three was Margie, my big sister.  She hardly ever got involved in the battles that went on between Junior and me.  All she was interested in was clothes and shoes.  She loved ribbons and bows, too.  She was a real girly, girl, if you know what I mean.  I, on the other hand, was kind of a tomboy type of girl.  I liked the outdoors and the creek, and I liked adventure.  I wanted to try new things.  The problem with that was I usually always wound up in trouble.

            My brother, the idiot, was always in charge, of course.  He was sixteen that summer.  Margie was twelve, and I was ten.  I was beginning to think that I would never get to be in charge of anything. Being the youngest in the family is hard.  I had to literally fight for my life at times.  They were all older and bigger than me, so I always get picked on.

            Margie always sided with Junior because she was afraid he would beat her up or tell Mother if she did something she shouldn’t have done.  This didn’t happen too often because she actually tried to be good.  She and I had fights now and then.  I beat her up, and then she left me alone for a while.  Sometimes she got the better of me though if Junior helped her.

            In the summer months, Mother would call us on her lunch hour to see how we were doing.  Of course, we told her we were fine.  My sister Ola would come by occasionally to check on us.  Sometimes she would take Margie and me with her to her house.  Once we got there, we knew why.  She wanted us to help her clean her house.  She was a terrible housekeeper.  At least that’s what my mother said.

            “If you girls help me clean my house, I will pay you,” she said.

            “How much will you pay us?”  I asked.

            “Well, how about a quarter?”

            I asked, “How about fifty cents each?”

            “Yeah, you’re house is really dirty, Ola,” Margie said.

            “All right, then. Fifty cents each.”

            “But you have to pay us now, before we start,” I said.

            “Why is that?”  asked Ola.

            “’Cause every time we clean your house, you never pay us.”

            “That’s not true.”

            “Yes, it is, and you know it’s true.”

            “Okay, then I will pay you right now.  You don’t even trust your own sister.”

            She went into the kitchen and handed us each fifty cents, and we put it in our pockets.  We worked nearly all day on her house.  What a mess!  Of course, we watched her kids while we were there, too.  She had three kids by then:  Larry, Bobby, and Randy.  There was only one year’s difference in Bobby and Randy. They were all cute little boys, and I rather liked taking care of them.  They were fun to play with.

            When we were all finished, she took us back home, but she didn’t stay long.  She said she needed a nap, and so did the kids.  I don’t know why she needed a nap because she sure didn’t do anything that I knew of.  The kids needed a nap though.  They all three looked sleepy.  Margie and I gave them all hugs and kisses, and off they went.  I couldn’t believe Ola actually paid us.

            When we got home, Junior was lying down on the couch sleeping.  The door slammed when we went in, and it woke him up.  That made him mad, and he began to yell at us.

            “What are you two doing now?” he screamed.

            “We just got home from Ola’s,” I said.

            “Well, be quiet,” he said.

            “We are being quiet, Junior.  Are you crazy?”  I said.  “Get up.  You are so lazy.  You never do any work.”

            “What I do is none of your business, brat.”

            That did it! He called me a bad name.  I jumped on top of him and started hitting him and, pulling his hair.  He was trying to get my hands loose from his hair, but he couldn’t.  I had a good grip on him.  He put his hand in my face and was trying to make me let go.  I got his finger in my mouth and bit down as hard as I could.  Boy, did he let out a yell then.  He finally was able to get me loose and threw me on the floor.  We were both mad, and what we did when we got this mad you won’t believe.

            “This is war,” I said.

            “Fine, let’s get the weapons!” he shouted.

            The weapons were the silverware.  We could use everything except the sharp knives. We went into the kitchen and dumped the silverware on the table.  We drew straws to see who picked first. Junior won the draw, so he got first pick.  We could not use the meat forks either.  Junior picked a fork for his first pick.  I picked a fork next, and Margie picked a fork.  When everything was off the table, we went back into the living room.

            There were two big platform rockers in the living room that we turned over for a fort.  One of us would get behind the couch.

            “Everyone needs to take cover.  The war is about to start!” said Junior.

            “No cheating.  You can only throw what you have now.  No going back to the kitchen,” I said.

            “We know the rules, brat.”

            I hated it when he called me that!

            Margie was behind the couch, and Junior and I were behind the rockers.  I know this was a crazy thing to do, but we were kids that were not supervised very well in the summer.  We would do just about anything.  I don’t think we really knew how bad we could have been hurt.  It was something to do, so we made a game of it.  We were all under cover, so it was time to begin.

            Junior threw first at me, of course, and after that, it was just all of us throwing whatever we could at whomever we could.  No one ever got hurt.  I can’t imagine why.  After we ran out of ammo, the game was over.  We would pick up all the silverware and put it back in the drawers.  Then we would clean up the living room and set the rockers back up.

            For some reason we were all in a better mood after we had a war.  I don’t know why.  We could actually be nice to each other.  Even Junior was better.  Sometimes he would ask us if we wanted to play catch in the front yard.  It was fun when he was nice to us.  I liked him when he was like that.  He would laugh and tease us.  We could even wrestle in the grass and not be mad.

            It had turned out to be a good afternoon in the life of little Ruthie.

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Tales of Little Ruthie: The Creek and the Tire Swing

Front Page, Personal History


       We were lucky when we were kids.  We had a creek nearby where we could go play.  All the kids in the neighborhood played there.  There was a tall sand rock on one side of the water and woods on the other side. Someone had hung a long rope from a tall tree, and it had a tire tied to it.  We used it for a swing.  I’m not sure who was nice enough to do that for us, but we had a lot of fun playing on it.

      We would swing out across the creek and drop into the water.  I liked going there unless Leroy and Lindell were there.  They were the meanest kids in the neighborhood, and they lived right across the street from us.

       On the side where there was sand rock, I could find little king snakes.  They were black with a red ring around their necks.  I liked to scare Margie with them.  She was kind of a sissy.  She didn’t like bugs or snakes or anything like that.  I didn’t like big snakes, but the little king snakes were all right.

        One day when my daddy was at the creek with me, he showed me a crawdad.

        “You know what this is, Ruthie?” he asked.

        “Nope.  What is it?”

        “It’s a crawdad.  Let me show you something.”

         He turned it over, and under the tail was a whole bunch of little babies.  I couldn’t believe it!

         “How did they get there?”

         “That’s where they carry their babies.”

         “There sure is a lot of them.”

         “I’ll show you something else.  They’re good to eat.”

         “I don’t think they look too good, Daddy.”

         He built a little circle of rocks and told me to get some small twigs.  I did what he said, and he put some dry grass under the twigs.  Then he said to lift up some of the big rocks and catch the crawdads that were bigger and that had no babies.  We caught four or five, and Daddy pinched their heads off.  He pulled out a box of matches, lit one, and put it under the dry grass and twigs.  The next thing I knew, the fire started up!  He added some bigger pieces of wood to it.  I couldn’t believe it!  My daddy knew how to build a fire!  He sharpened two sticks, and he punched them into the crawdads.  He handed one to me.

           “Just hold it over the fire and roast it just like a wiener.”

           “Okay,” I said.

           “Not too long now, or you will burn it up.”

           “Tell me when it’s ready, Daddy.”
It just took a couple of minutes, and he showed me how to peel it and where the meat was.  It would be all right if you were real hungry.  There wasn’t much to eat though.  A person could starve if that’s all he had.

           “How did you like it?”

           “It was real good,” I lied.
What really got me excited was that my daddy could build a fire just like they did in the western movies!

           “How did you learn to build a fire like that?”

           “I was raised on a ranch, Ruthie.  You had to know how to build a fire.”

           “Why did we come here?  Why didn’t we stay on the ranch?”

           “It’s real hard work on a ranch.  Your mother and me were tired of working so hard.”

           “What did you do?”

           “Your mother cooked for the ranch hands, and I drove cattle.”

           “I wish we still lived there.”

           “No, you don’t, Ruthie.  You need to go to school so you won’t have to work so hard.”

           “I had to quit school in the fourth grade,” he said.

           “But, I don’t like school, Daddy.”

           He just laughed at me and hugged me.  I learned a lot from my daddy that day.  I guess he knew how to build fires so well because he was Cherokee Indian.  He always told me that he and Johnny Trueblood were real Indians.  That meant I was Indian, too, and I was happy about that.  I learned how to build a fire.  I don’t know if that was good or bad for me, but I never did burn anything up.

            After I learned how to build a fire, I did it all the time at the creek.  I even cooked a few crawdads.  The kids thought that was really something that I could build a fire.

           One day we were playing and swinging on the tire.  Margie, Annie, Jeanie Lou, Novelene, and Charlie were with me that day.  We had been there for about an hour.  Then LeRoy and Lindell showed up.  I was on the swing, and they began to throw rocks at me.  They picked on all of us all the time.

            I jumped off the tire, and all of us took cover in the woods.  We were trying to figure out how to get away from them.

            “Y’all might as well come out ‘cause you ain’t getting’ away!  Were gonna beat you all up!  This is gonna be our place to play!  Y’all ain’t allowed here no more!” hollered Lindell.

            “You just think you’re gonna take this place!  This is our placeI” I hollered back.

            “You’re that Carter brat!  I know who you are!”  (There was that brat word again!)

            “I’m gonna tell my big brother on you!  Then you will be sorry!”

            “He ain’t nobody!  We ain’t scared of him!”  Lindell yelled.
“Well, you better be!  He will kick your butts if you hurt us!”

            I didn’t know what to do.  I was talking all this talk about Junior, and I didn’t even know if he would help us.  Junior was sixteen or seventeen then.  They were about fourteen or fifteen.

            “I am gonna try to run around the back way and get Junior,” I said.

            “What if they catch you?”  Margie asked.

            “They won’t.  I can run faster.”

            I took off the back way out of the woods trying to stay low so they didn’t see me.  I ran as fast as I could to the house.  I was yelling for Junior.  He came out the front door.  I guess he thought I was hurt.

            Kenny, his friend, was with him.  I was talking so fast they didn’t know what I was saying.

            “You gotta come with me.  We’re in trouble.”

           We all took off running to the creek.  They really didn’t know why.  They thought one of us kids was hurt.  When we got there, you could hear Margie and my friends yelling.  Then we heard LeRoy and Lindell  saying what they were going to do to them.  They really meant to beat them up.  I could hear Margie crying.  Junior heard her, too, and he started running.  We could see them now by the creek.

            “Hey, you little creeps!  Is that all you have to do is scare little kids?”

            “You gonna stop us, Junior?”

            “Yeah, I think we will stop you.”

            By now we were down by the creek bank.  Junior was at least six foot tall, much bigger, and older than they were.  Kenny was not as tall, but he didn’t act scared at all.  All of us kids just watched and didn’t say a word.

            Junior grabbed LeRoy by his arm and twisted it behind his back, just like he did to me, but harder.  He kicked him in the butt with the side of his foot.  Kenny tried to get Lindell, but he took off running.  He left his own brother there by himself.

            “You kids can play here any time you want to.  These guys better not bother you either, or they are gonna be real sorry,” Junior said.

            “Thanks, Junior, for helping us,” I said.

            “That’s all right, brat.  You’re my sisters.  I have to help you.  But, try to stay out of trouble.”

            “We will.  I promise.  You and Kenny saved us.”

            Junior started walking and pushing LeRoy in front of him.  Every once in a while he kicked him in the butt again.  I liked that.

            They never did bother us anymore when we saw them at the creek, but they sure looked at us like they were still mad.  I wanted to run every time we saw them, but I didn’t.  I couldn’t let them know I was scared of them.  I had to act tough like my brother did.

            I learned something about my brother that day.  So did my sister, Margie.  No matter what Junior said to us or how many times he called us brats, we were his little sisters, and he loved us. And I knew he would not let anyone hurt us if he was there to stop it.  I stopped hating my brother so much on that day, and I could tell that we all three had different feelings from then on.  We were nicer to each other.  I believe that was the day we all realized that we were siblings, and we loved each other.

            I loved that creek, and I loved playing there.  I had two of the most important things in my life happen to me playing on that creek.  My daddy taught me about building wood fires and about crawdads.  Plus, I learned that the dummy, my brother, loved me.  I never called him dummy again.  He still called me brat, but in a nice way.  So, there you have it, another great day in the life of Little Ruthie.

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