Writer: Donna Crumly Harvey.
Have you ever had something just pop into your mind and it just will not go away? Well that is exactly what happened to me. Now why in the world would I start thinking about “Brer Rabbit”, I just do not know but think I did. I had heard the story many times and even as I grew out of childhood to adolescence, I am almost certain I read the story again. So off I go to the internet to find the story of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby. I found one version which was written in dialect and you all know that I am from the South and Billie Crumly and my grandparents are from the rural South. The speech that I heard as a child was that same sort of speech that Jeff Foxworthy has made a fortune using. I must say that I really enjoyed reading the dialectic version of Brer Rabbit and could hear Billie Crumly talking just that way. She was encouraged to use good grammar and she on her own must have made the decision for her and her family to use proper language. I must say that this made English classes very easy for me in school because I had already been taught the proper English language and it was just the way we talked. As we have children, how many times do we think about insisting that they use proper English to make their lives and grades better as they go through school? Back to Brer Rabbit, I remember being in Atlanta and being shown the house where Joel Chandler Harris had lived and perhaps even wrote some of his Uncle Remus tales. It was also interesting on the internet to discover that the same tale which is actually a folk tale, crosses many cultural barriers. The same tale but with little changes in the rabbit being something else but the same theme to the story. Then of course, I had to think about “Oh, please, just don’t throw me in that briar patch!” Sweetie and I often tease with some of the old verbiage from our youth.
Then I think about other books that I always enjoyed and loved. One which is not available today is “Little Black Sambo.” I just loved to see the curled toe shoes and the unusual clothes which were depicted on the boy. And then to think that he was smart enough to out-smart that tiger and finally caused him to become syrup and ate it on his pancakes. I just do not remember even seeing color but saw people, which is the way we should live today. It is the people that we come in contact with that really matter and not the color.
Then there was the “Pokey Little Puppy.” These were Golden Books and I believe at the time they were about $.25 each. What can we get for a quarter today? Not much for sure. The cover of the book was interesting to me and shows how curious the little puppy was and if you have had a puppy, you too know that there is a natural curiosity there. But even little children have to be taught about things of interest. Like a fire in a fireplace. How do you teach “Hot?” Well, I would always take the baby’s hand where I had control and would put the little hand toward the fire saying “Hot! Hot! Hot!” all the time pushing the little hand more toward the fire until the little one would want to pull the sweet little hand away. I would let go and again, say “Hot!” The child had now learned what “Hot!” was and I don’t believe any of my grandchildren were ever burned by reaching for something hot when I was around because they understood.
And how can I forget “Henny Penny?” She just had to the king that the sky was falling. And such fun we had reading the silly names and the even sillier antics of the animal characters. And another, was “The Little Red Hen.” She just could not get any help from anyone with the work that needed to be done, BUT when it came time to partake of the wonderful outcome of all her hard work that she had to do by herself, then everyone was willing to help. The morals from these stories were all very good and still apply today. Would you believe there is one “The Little Red Hen” book for $45.00 plus shipping which is “Used – Like new?” Not me coach, if I were to buy it I just might forget where I had put it. So I will just stay with the memories.
Then there are the nursery rhymes that I could recite at a very young age. I wonder how many times either Mother or Grandmother had read them to me? I had a book that was shaped like a shoe and it had a lace up the side to hold the covers closed. “There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do; She gave them some broth without any bread; Then whipped then all soundly and put them to bed.” Oh the many rhymes, “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary,” “Old Mother Hubbard,” “Pat-a-Cake,” “Ring Around the Rosy,” “Little Jack Horner” and of course “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” I suspect you too can name a few of them and I hope your memory can recall all the lines. I am not sure that nursery rhymes are a part of today’s young people memory. I know when my sister came along, eight years afterward that there were some because she would say to people, “A sunshiny shower, won’t last half an hour.” And I remember her telling the neighbor across the street, “Don’t it make you mad, don’t it get your goat; when you get in the bathtub and can’t find the soap” I guess these are some of the many old things which are going by way of the computer for CD’s and Video’s and interactive learning tools. But these are some of my memories of Country Living.