True Tales of Life In the Old Days (Part 3), A Vintage Vignette

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True" Tales of Life In the Old Days (Part 3)
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
October 2, 2009

Gladys McFarlen married Robert “Pud” True and lived in Madison from 1933. She described her childhood in Trenton, Alabama, in her book “My Life from Wagons to Rockets”. Trenton was a small town with three stores and a post office at the time. It is located in the Paint Rock Valley of Jackson County. An excerpt of Gladys’ book follows:

“I had a real happy childhood. I have lived to see a LOT of changes during my lifetime, many of them for the better. I do not think that children are any happier today than we were back then. We did not have much money, but then neither did anybody else. Our doctor did not have much more money than we did. At least (my friend) Angelese’s daddy, Dr. Vandiver, did have a car when the cars came along because he had to make all these “house calls.” Before he got a car, he made his house calls in a buggy. My grandmother and granddaddy had a rubber-tired buggy sometime later. That was “way up town!” They lived as far back between the mountains as you could go.”

“Religion was never discussed in our house except on the Sunday that they held communion at the Baptist Church. My daddy took communion with my mother at her church, but when they were going to have communion at the Baptist Church, Daddy would always remind us, just before we started up the steps, “I can’t sit with you all today.” He would not sit with us when we took communion, because we stood up in the Baptist Church, and they brought the communion to us. He would not stand up while we were sitting down; he would just sit somewhere else. Mama would always laugh, and say to me, “You’re just a half-Baptist.” My daddy, Sam, was the middle child of ten. Everyone else in his family was Church of Christ. He would have to get off the wagon on the way to their church to go to the Baptist Church he went to. He was considered the black sheep of the family because of this and I think they worried about his soul. I guess this made religious freedom important in our house.”

“Now I will describe the first house that I ever remember living in. It had a hall, a closed hall that was never heated and never used for anything. I do not know why it was there. The house had a porch all across the front, and when you went into this hall, there was a bedroom to the right, which was mine. There was a bedroom on the left, which was my mama and daddy’s, and that was where we lived. There was a little tiny heater in there. We never had a fireplace. I remember bringing in the big tub, and putting it in front of that heater, and seeing two teakettles of water just steaming away when we were going to take a bath. I had long hair, down to my waist. I wore my hair pulled back with a big black bow.”

“Daddy had the store, and he had what they call a “peddling wagon.” It was a covered wagon, like you see on television today. He put a little bit of everything from the store on the wagon. He drove up and down the road, and people would run out and buy things like sugar, flour, and kerosene for the lamps (they called it coal-oil). For pay, he would take eggs, chickens, and other things. Sometimes we would see him coming back when the eggs had broken and were running out the back.”

Mama had to go to the store every day and help him get off with the “peddling wagon.” I spent a lot of time at the store after school. My daddy did not always have that store. I do not know exactly what happened to his store. We always worry about what our children are going to remember, but I do not remember all my early childhood.”

Thankfully, Gladys remembered enough to produce an absorbing book of her life.

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