As I have written about several times in the past, my brothers and I were very close to our grandparents. With five boys in the house, my mom would break us up and allow my younger brother and me to stay with Gramps and Nanaw (the name I always knew my grandma by) during the summers and other holidays throughout the year. As I think back on it, I am struck by how much the world has changed since those days.
On a visit there during the summer of 1952 something occurred that I have not witnessed since that evening. Nanaw and Grandpa had been invited to supper by some a member of the church and her husband. She was anxious for Nanaw to bring us along since her youngest boy was off fighting in Korea.
We drove for quite awhile into the country outside the tiny city of Irving, Texas until we finally arrived at the home of Nanaw’s fellow church member. After being exhorted to be on our best behavior, we piled out of the car and headed to the house. My brother and I were captivated by what we saw. We walked past cages upon cages of rabbits; cute, furry rabbits, everywhere! My brother and I stopped, petted and played with them.
Thinking back on it, I now realize the house was an old farmhouse, very old, unpainted and rickety. In lieu of front and backyards was bare ground populated by chickens of every size and description. Over to one side of the house was a well made of brick and wood with an old bucket on a rope set on one edge. Of course, behind the house was a good sized truck garden.
Once we were in the house we found it to be extremely crowded with old worn furniture that hadn’t been moved for at least 50 years.
Nanaw’s friend was busy stirring large pots and skillets full of at the wood-burning stove. The pots and skillets contained meats, vegetables and hot water cornbread (cornpone), all of which were producing delicious aromas.
Before we got settled my grandmother’s friend handed me a large pot and asked to “go fetch a bucket of water” so I took the pot and headed off to where I had seen the well earlier. I gave no thought to how one “fetched a bucket of water” until I got to the well. I was standing there looking at the bucket—with a long rope attached to the bucket’s bail—sitting on the edge of well-wall.
At that moment, grandpa walked up grinning and said he thought he should give me a hand. With that, he turned the bucket upside down and tossed it into the well while holding on the end of the rope. He jerked and tugged on the rope until he felt the bucket was full and then pulled it up. He then took the drinking cup from the nail on the upright post holding up the well’s roof. He used it to skim the dirt and debris from the water’s surface before pouring the bucket into the pot.
By the time we got back inside the house supper was on the table and as I sat down I noticed my brother looking at me with a horrified expression. Nanaw’s friend then announced we would be have a feast of roasted rabbit.