The woods were teaming with huge walnut trees. This old farm was squirrel heaven, to say the least, but even the squirrels couldn’t keep up.
In the fall, the walnuts dropped to the ground, clothed with their little jackets of green. My father picked up many gunny sacks full of them, and hauled them to our house.
Dad would dump out a huge sack of them and all of us would step on them to get them out of the thick, green, pithy, outer shell. Daddy usually picked them up after the outer cover was removed. They oozed a dark brown fluid that left a person’s hands stained for many days. By this time, we were back in school, and Mama didn’t want us going to school with stained hands. Daddy wore some old chore gloves, but they still allowed the stains to come through. It didn’t seem to bother him a lot. He just called them farmer’s hands.
The walnuts were scattered out in the garage to dry. The shells were so tough that the car could run over them and not hurt a thing; the squirrels would have carried them off if they had been left outside. After all, that would have saved them a great deal of work with the outer hull already off.
By the time the walnuts were dry enough to crack, there were usually snowflakes in the air. The fall work was completed, and we were quite cozy as we sat around the old pot bellied heating stove, and picked the walnuts out of the shells in the evenings. There was no radio, T.V. hadn’t been heard of, and so it was our entertainment for many evenings.
Dad used to crack the nuts, and hand us a pie tin full of them to pick out. The hulls had many sharp protrusions, and were very hard on the hands if you had young, tender skin.
My brother Gaylord, and I often filled up his little dump truck, and took turns hauling the nut meats around and dumping them here and there, and, yes, we ended up eating them. I presume that these memories may “gross out” my brother. He was always more particular than I. I even ate the apples from mud pies that I made. Well, at least, I wasn’t fat back then.
Of course, our school work must be completed before we enjoyed the other activities. Somehow that seemed of major importance to 2 parents that had both been teachers.
We had many other activities that filled our evenings. Mama and Daddy would play “Authors” with us, or “Rook,” or we would gather around the piano to sing, or our parents would read to us, or we would read some books on our own. Playing dolls was one of my favorite pass times, and Gaylord was always whittling, or making airplanes, or little boats, or something.
Today, I am appalled when I hear children say “I am so bored.” I can never recall ever feeling that way as a child. Life was an exciting adventure.
I praise God for a childhood filled with love of parents, and my brother. Oh, yes, my brother and I fought a great deal, but I never doubted that he would protect me with his life if that was necessary.