Monday, February 22, 2010

My First Home

I was born in 1956 in a small rural town about 18 miles from my grandparents farm. I lived on that farm with my parents who were 17 and 20. They were young and had very little money of their own. After I was born, we lived with my maternal grandparents for six months on their dairy farm. This was my first rural home.

There is a very interesting nightmarish event that happened right after I was born. Personally, I don't know how my family lived through it.

My grandparent's home was an old farmhouse (see photo first on the left). As a newborn, I slept between my young parents in their bed at night. At least I did that night. I imagine my mother was very nervous about taking care of me and wanted me nearby. I was her first child after all and only a few weeks old. One night, after my parents went to sleep, my mother tells, I awoke them -screaming. When someone turned on the light they saw me lying in the middle of their bed with blood all over my head and hand. My mother was panicked and tells that she pulled the cover over her head crying hysterically. I am sure she loss all thought processes right then. My grandparents woke up as well.

{At some point they decided it must have been a rat who was interested in the milky smell on my hands and started chewing my flesh.}

You can imagine what a mess that was - a tiny hand and large rat teeth. It could have been my face. They bundled me up and took me to the doctor in that same town where I had been born. The doctor told the group of worried adults that he could not give me a rabies shot. I was too young. So they took me back home, watched me and waited for whatever time was needed.

Back at the farm, my grandfather searched his home until he found the rat in the attic with a nest full of items that had gone missing. Of course he killed the rat, but in the meantime he was so upset that he started having chest pains. My grandfather had a heart attack six months later. We had already moved out of their home and to Joliet, Illinois where my father had found found work.

I always knew that my grandparents "doted" on me. My grandmother use to tell me how she and grandpa would sit and hold me for hours. My mother tells how grandma would not let her take care of me until she reminded grandma one day that I was her (my mom's) baby. I never saw them raise their voices at each other- ever. So, this seems funny to me. Two wonderful quiet women discussing who should take care of me.

My rural identity began on that farm where my grandparents worked the land, where my mother grew up with four sisters and three brothers and became the woman who raised me.

Commentary on the Significance of Home

I have always believed that because of that particular time, when we lived with my grandparents, a bond was created. People from my Ruralhood loved deeply. Parents opened their homes to their grown children if they needed a place to live. Households sometimes held more than one generation. Later, after my grandfather died, my uncle and his family lived with my grandmother until she died in her 80's. She helped raise her grandchildren. He and his wife helped with the farm.

As a child, I remember that family was very meaningful in my Ruralhood.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Rural Significance- Introduction

The rolling hills. Dense woods. Farms. Harsh winters. Humid summers. Creeks. Rivers. Caves. Cliffs. Loving people. Nosey people. This was, in part, my experience of growing up in the Ruralhood in Missouri. Rural living in Missouri began for me in 1956. It meant you were part of a community and you got the best of everything the simple life could offer, except perhaps, opportunity because you lived so far from a city.

When I had to think of a thesis question for my graduate course, I thought about my rural culture. I thought about the benefits and the disadvantages of growing up rural. This brought to mind how rural roots seem to invoke negative emotions in some people. In fact "rural" seems to be something that we might just be encouraging our youth to flee. As teenage students we were told that the only way to escape such an injurious world of farming and poverty was education. No one ever told us, as students, that we could seek education and perhaps return to help our community home and be proud of our rural culture.

No matter where you grew up, that culture is worth exploring. Take at a look at your childhood home. It was a part of your life's recipe that made you the person you are today.

And so it is that the life of a rural child is filled with lessons learned and a life worth experiencing.

Although, I didn’t finish that graduate program, I am still interested in my rural roots. I want to share my thoughts on the mindsets and prejudices of rural living. And I have the desire to tell my experiences - the good and unsavory - of growing up in the Ruralhood.