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Bootheel Snow Days Deep in Joyful Remembrances

Posted Sunday, January 29, 2012, at 5:13 PM

It's mystical we have such warm memories of otherwise brutal cold tundra-like "snow days" of youth.

Brrr, even when freezing back on the farm, snow days seemed to end snuggy and warm by our trusty Warm Morning coal stove, where Momma Whittle and aunts Doris Whittle and Durette Reed had prepared us children some hot sassasfras tea to drink as we removed our layers of clothing to let dry in the stoves' radient heat.

Meanwhile, Grandmother Rhodes, the one we children called "Granny Grunt" because, well, she complained a lot, was nearby, warming her "backside" as she hiked her dress up close to the hot stove.

But all was not fun in post-Great Depression years, when chopping axes and sledge hammers were required to break the ice for cows, horses and hogs to have something to drink.

There's nothing in life to compare to a below-freezing morning, when grabbing a milk cows' cold udder on a snowy morning, when milking hands would ache and throb. Probably wasn't too comfortable for Old Bessie, either.

On the joyful side of snow-filled days, it was high-drama and glee the day resourceful cousins Tommy Burris, of Dexter, Dowel Whittle of Rombauer Road, and Terry Reed of the Colony near Morehouse,fashioned a sled out of a discarded car hood.

Yes, farm boys of that era tended to make their own enjoyment and play equipment.

Being flat farming land in Southeast Missouri, we didn't have hills to slide down. No problem, farm neighbor brothers Jerry and Reuben Jones hooked up their Daddy's Farmall tractors to pull our home-fashioned "sled" fast up and down our farm roads.

We would laugh when sissy girl cousins such as Sandra Kay Reed and Mallie Faye Blankenship would fall off the sled, and go tumbling in the snow.

Again, on the painful side of a cold winter's day ledger, knees, backs and hands ached on tundra-like days we had to "snap (cotton) boles" to get the last remaining tufts of cotton to the gins at Essex and Morehouse.

Such are the remembrances of our "snow days" back on our Bootheel farm.

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Retired recently as world-traveled newspaperman, career made possible by late Superintendent of Schools Robert L. Rasche, about to have Bootheel life book published by SEMO State University. Loved farm life, but knew at five years old, didn't want to be a "cotton picker" when I grew up.
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