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REFLECTIONS: July 24-Remembering hot summer of 1953

As the temperature hovers around a hundred day after day I begin to reflect back to the year 1953. It was so hot that summer that everything dried up. I remember how dry the grass in the yard was even the weeds in the garden were brown. When the blackberries were ripe Frank and I would get up at the break of day to go pick berries. For some reason I thought I just had to make jar after jar of blackberry jelly even though no one in our family cared for jelly of any kind. Frank would say, “You can always give it away.” When we got back from the berry patch Frank would go to work and I would go to work in the hot kitchen. We would trade some of the blackberry jelly for Frank’s sister Lucille’s apricot jam. She lived in California and had apricot trees and we had wild blackberries free for the picking. They didn’t care for the apricot and we didn’t care for the blackberry. I say we made a pretty good trade as the jam was in quarts and the jelly in pints. Then I think about it and I am not so sure. We had to brave all the chiggers and it takes longer to wash, look, cook, and strain the berries. Not only all that but I also had to brave the heat of Arkansas, a hot kitchen, and stained hands. This was before nice cool kitchens.

When we built our first house (Frank and his Dad built it) we didn’t know about insulation nor had we ever heard about central air condition and not only that we didn’t even own a fan. Rich people had attic fans, later on people began to get window water coolers. The Hugharts just braved the heat.

For years I had dreamed of owning a Heirloom bedspread so in June I braved the heat to pick Bosenberries at Lavaca. I would get up early catch a ride in a truck going to the berry patch. At that time highway 96 was only a gravel road. I can tell you for sure it was a dusty road. After picking all morning, being hot and sweaty riding in the back of a truck over that dusty road one would look as if they had been working in the coal mines instead of a berry patch. But, oh, it was worth it when I got to buy my new bedspread. Not only the spread but new curtains for the bed room. I was so proud.

In the hot, hot of the summer, after canning all morning the house was really hot. In the afternoon I would lie down with Connie, who at that time was about nine months old, to get her to sleep. As our bedroom was on the south east side of the house there seemed to be a breeze most of the time. Not a cool breeze but at least a breeze. One afternoon I went to sleep before Connie. When I woke up there in the middle of the bed was a pile of string. She had found one of the knots on the spread and started pulling. It was like unraveling a knitted sweater. She had unraveled most of the middle of my beautiful bed spread that I had dreamed of owning and worked so hard to get. Have I ever forgiven her?? I’m not too sure although I had not thought about it for years until the heat of summer 2013. That was sixty years ago.

As there is no longer Bosenberries growing in Lavaca to pick I don’t own a heirloom bed spread. I may not own a Heirloom bedspread but I do have a cool house so I will try to forgive my child for pulling the string on my new spread although she was only nine months old it may be hard. I guess I can as the spread I have on my bed now she gave to me. I think she might feel just a little guilt of pulling a string sixty years ago.

I read this to Connie and she said, “Oh, Mother, I feel so sad about that I may not be able to sleep tonight.” I assured her she was forgiven.

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