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0806 PD: I Remember Stories Mama Told

Yevet Tenney Published on 23 August 2006

When I was a little girl, my mother told me stories by the hour. They were wonderful stories that her grandmother had shared with her.

I could feel and see the images as if I had been there. I wonder now that with the television and Internet, if we are missing the boat with our children. Story time is lost in the senseless comedies, sick sitcoms and violent crime shows. What will they remember when they sit down in the Grandma chair with their grandchildren? I remember the stories as if I had heard them moments ago.

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One time, Grandma went to stay with one of her lady friends while her husband was gone. They were exhausted and didn’t hear the Indian come in the house until he leaned over their bed and started pulling on the bed covers.

Grandma saw him first and jumped out of bed. She grabbed a chair and broke it over his head, knocking him cold.

Grandma, a stout woman, was able to drag him by the feet outside onto the porch. All night she watched him by the window until he came to and crawled on his horse and rode away.

When Grandma came into the dimly-lit cabin, she found his headband. She must have knocked it off when she hit him with the chair. She took the band and hung it up on the longhorn hat rack.

She told her friend she knew the chief and his warriors would be after them the next morning. She made a big pot of coffee and cookies as a bribe, in case they got violent.

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Sure enough, the chief and his men came. They were all painted up, ready for war. When they came to the door, Grandma asked them to have some coffee and cookies and then she showed the chief the band on the horns and the broken chair and the blood. She motioned to the bed and showed him how they had been sleeping when the brave came in.

The old chief seemed satisfied with the story, but Grandma could tell he was angry with the brave. The Indians had a code of ethics that didn’t allow braves to take advantage of women. The brave would be dealt with. The band rode away, leaving Grandma and her friend unharmed.

A few weeks later, Grandma was staying with her brother’s wife while she was down with her new baby. This same Indian came to the corral where Grandma’s brother Joe was working, and asked if he might stay the night. Joe said, “Sure, just unsaddle your horse at the barn, give him a drink at the well and then bring him here to the corral, and we will feed him.”

The Indian unsaddled his horse and went to the well to get the water. When he saw Grandma coming down to the well with a bucket to get some water, he yanked on the reins of his horse, spurring the horse to leap past Joe.

Joe called to him, “What is wrong?

“Water is poison,” the Indian growled as he grabbed his saddle and slung it on his horse. He mounted quickly and rode away.

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Grandma asked Uncle Joe what was the matter with the Indian. He told her, “He said he couldn’t stay because the water is poison.”

Grandma said, “That is the Indian I hit over the head with the chair.”

Joe laughed. He understood why the water was poison.

On another occasion, Grandma had been asked to go take care of Mrs. Ditenhoofer, who had a new baby. Well, Mr. Ditenhoofer was a schoolteacher and also a farmer in the summer. His wife waited on him hand and foot. Grandma went there in the summer to stay with the wife and help her around the house. She hired on to take care of the mother and baby and to cook, clean, take of small children and everything else that had to be done in the home.

Mr. Ditenhoofer had his wife well trained. She did the milking of the cows, the chores and the chopping and carrying of wood for the family’s stove. He only slept and ate like he was a king. Of course, this could not be done while she was recuperating.

Grandma got to his place on a Sunday morning and right away things began to happen.

Mr. Ditenhoofer got up, put on his suit and was ready for his Sunday meetings. He started telling Grandma where the milk bucket was and what to feed the cow. Right away, Grandma set him straight. Grandma responded, “I was hired to take care of your wife and baby and to do the cooking and cleaning in the home. Milking the cow is not my job. You will have to milk the cow.” He put up an argument, but Grandma didn’t budge. He took the bucket and went to milk the cow.

It wasn’t long until he came back with milk all over his face and suit and an empty milk bucket. The cow had kicked the bucket over. Grandma began to laugh; she said seeing the milk dripping from him was the funniest sight she had ever seen.

He changed and left for church in a huff, not saying a word to Grandma. After he left. his wife began to laugh. She said, “I didn’t dare laugh while he was here.” Grandma replied, “It serves him right. He should take more responsibility and do the chores and not go around all dressed up like he was the king of all.”

Monday morning came. Mr. Ditenhoofer owned a large farm and hired men to come and work the land for him while he bossed the job. He told Grandma he and his men would be home to eat dinner. He told her how many men would be there. Grandma was capable of putting out a good meal for a lot of working men. She had often served as a ranch cook.

Grandma said to Mr. Ditenhoofer, “You will have to get me an armload of wood so I can cook dinner.” Mr. Ditenhoofer wasn’t used to women folk telling him what to do, let alone doing much work himself, so he meandered toward the horses.

He swung his leg over the saddle. Grandma called to him and said, “Would you please bring some wood; I am just about out.”

He seated himself in the saddle and rode away like he had never heard a word she said.

Grandma watched him ride away. “I’ll break him of being so high and mighty,” she thought.

She busied herself in her tasks until it was time to get dinner. She peeled the potatoes, put them on the stove, which by now was cold, and got her vegetables and everything on the stove for cooking. She even made biscuits and put them in the pan. She sat at the table in an elegant fashion, and as a finishing touch, she got a long piece of wood and stuck it in the stove. It stuck out a foot. She sat down in the rocker and waited for the men to come.

When Mr. Ditenhoofer entered he said, “Is dinner ready?”

Grandma said, “Just as soon as you get me some wood.” He and his men washed up and sat around the table that already had the plates and silverware on it. They waited expectantly for Grandma to bring on the feast. But nothing happened.

So Ditenhoofer went to the kitchen to find out what the hold- up was. He saw the food on the stove and the long piece of wood sticking out the front of the stove.

“Why haven’t you cooked the dinner?” he roared. “You know I have all those men waiting out there!” Grandma smiled and calmly said, “As soon as you get me some wood, I’ll get it cooked.”

He stormed out of the house and took his men to a boarding house to buy their dinner so they could go back to work.

After that incident, the cow was milked, the wood was stacked in the wood box and Grandma had no more trouble with him. Mrs. Ditenhoofer said, “How could you have treated him so?” Grandma said, “He has got to learn he is a family man who has responsibilities, and not just a king that sits on a throne and gives orders.”

Story time needs to be a daily ritual for our children. The time is already there. We just have to steal it from the Internet and the TV. PD

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