Hand Me Down World: Chapter Nine

She headed to the kitchen where her mother waited. Momma canned, when they had an overabundance of garden fresh vegetables. And Daddy always let Momma raise a garden. It seemed to make her happy. It also kept enough food in the house during the winter to keep them fed.

Beets, corn, green beans, peas, potatoes, dill and sweet cucumber pickles all came from Momma’s kitchen and Natalia loved it all. Well, the potatoes not so much. But she loved pickled beets and Momma’s special kosher dill pickles. They tasted so much better than store bought.

She watched intently as Momma prepared the brine. Vinegar, salt, dill seed, and dill weed. She hoped she would remember this when she was Momma’s age so she, too, could can pickles. She would love to keep the tradition alive.

She watched as Momma put the jars into the water to start them heating so they would seal. Into another pan, she placed the lids and the flats. These, too, were started to boil. When both were hot, she pulled the first jar out and filled it with pickles and brine, making sure that some of the dill weed and seed made it into the jar.

Once the jar was filled, she put a flat on it and then screwed the lid down tight enough to seal. Using tongs, she pulled the jar from the canner and set it on a towel on the counter. One down, dozens to go. Natalia watched her fill jar after jar. Soon she had all the jars filled and all the pickles and brine, except a few, in jars.

She looked at Natalia. “You want a fresh pickle?”

Natalia smiled and nodded. “Oh, yes, Momma. Please.”

She smiled. “Alright, then. But don’t spoil your appetite. And don’t go and gorge yourself. I don’t need a sick child on my hands.

“We’ll be doing sweet pickles next, after dinner. That’ll be our treat. I think I’ll have your sister help us so we can get done faster. What do you think?”

Natalia smiled and nodded. “Sure.”

Of course, Momma was always the one who had final say. She knew that both girls would need to know how to do this, but the dill experience had been Nattie’s turn. Shasta had watched her the last time and she always made sure that the girls took turns. It was the same way when she fixed the meals.

One meal, she would allow one girl to watch and learn through helping. The next, the other would help. It was family tradition. She knew that her girls would someday need to be able to cook for their families, no matter what they decided to do in life. Few men ever thought it their lot in life to cook, unless they went into restauranting.

Cooking in the home was still considered the woman’s job. Momma was lucky that Daddy was not like other men. He, too, could cook. In fact, he sometimes made a point to cook a meal or two. He also helped around the house, doing laundry and housework.

He had discussed getting a maid to take care of the housework, but Momma had declined. “My daughters need to know how to care for a home,” she had said, and so they did not have a maid. Instead, they all pitched in and kept the house clean. But the girls did not mind.

They weren’t really all that messy anyway. It was easy to keep their rooms clean. Shasta’s books were always neatly stored in their book cases, the shelves were kept dusted. Nattie’s room, though less cluttered with furniture, was spotless. Her records and record player was kept up and the records in a nice case in her closet.

It was both their chore to set the table for every meal and the girls had a system where they took turns. Only on special occasions did they ever set the table as a team. They divided the house work up among them. Natalia did her own wash, as did Shasta. They divided the vacuuming between them. Shasta did certain rooms, Natalia did the rest.

They had found that teamwork and dividing the tasks always worked better than any other method of getting things done. And, surprisingly, the house was spotless. Their allowance had grown because of their efforts. It had grown considerably.

They had started out on mere pennies and leaped to quarters in a rather short time. By their eighth birthdays, they had begun receiving $100 per week. Daddy said that it was far better to train them to earn pay by giving them an allowance equal to a salary than to give them a mere pittance. Momma allowed him to do it his way, and they had begun their greatest education. How to earn a living through working at home and getting a larger allowance.

Of course, it would have all gone to the maid had they hired one. Instead, he gave it to his girls. He hoped that they would save it, but once it was theirs they could do as they pleased. Both saved the bulk, setting aside every other week or every third week’s pay for their enjoyment. From this, they were able to buy things. Dolls, books, clothes, their school supplies, or even go to the movies.

From time to time, they even bought something they wanted to try as a meal. On Momma and Daddy’s birthdays, they bought them presents. Same with their anniversary. Or each other’s birthday, which was easy because they shared the same one.

Through this, they both learned how to manage their money. They learned how the world worked, for the most part. At least the working world, the world of business and commerce. They learned the cost of their pleasures and their needs.

Most of all, they learned responsibility. They were responsible for their jobs around the house. They were responsible for their own money. They were responsible for seeing to their own needs, except transportation. Momma or Daddy took care of that.


8 thoughts on “Hand Me Down World: Chapter Nine

      1. I tend to sprinkle some of my childhood into my stories. I helped my mom can when I was between the ages of 5 and 10/11. we moved when I was 11 and the canning stopped.

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