Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Ah yes, the spanking story. This one ain't short.

Chapter One. First, some background information needs to be given. We're talking dog days at Grandma's West Virginia farm, summer of 1962. From what I can remember, we had no rain for quite some time, typical of dog days. Water was always a valuable commodity, whether it be well water or rain water. Grandma always had nicely maintained rain barrels. Run off rain from the house roof gutters was caught and stored in these barrels for use as wash water for clothes. I learned at a young age to preserve water during the summer and I knew the benefits of soft rain water. Sis and I would shampoo with rain water...awesome.

Grandma was very proud of her Scottish heritage and it showed. Nothing was wasted, we all worked hard, we would lend a hand to help a neighbor at the drop of a hat. We were very aware of what we did/didn't have and made the most of this. Most importantly, we were a tight knit family and community. This still holds true today. Sardis, WV is a great place. Three cheers for the MacDonald of Clannranald. (Our cousin Nathan's clan.)

Chapter Two is understanding the protocol involved when visiting family and neighbors in the rural areas of West Virginia. Grandma always wore an apron around the farm. Whether stringing beans, frying chicken or weeding the garden, Grandma had her apron. She wore her everyday type apron and also a dressy apron. Sometimes Grandma would wear her apron when visiting and other times not. If there was going to be some type of work involved while visiting, the dressy apron was worn. When Grandma and I spent the night with Effie Martin, this was a no apron visit. We would eat popcorn, no bake cookies and drink grape Kool Aid. Laughing and playing dominos was a requirement when visiting Effie.

My sister and I had play clothes and dressy play clothes. Get the picture? Sue and I worked hard and played hard. Sue would go after it like she was fighting snakes. Is it becoming clear why Sue is the person she is? Hard working, intelligent, compassionate, frugal, to name a few admirable traits.

Chapter Three. Hollering was a common form of communication between our Grandma and Bea Allen. When Bea would pick up her mail, Grandma would holler down to her (at least a hundred yards away) and they would have a conversation. Bea told Grandma she was going to string beans that night. Grandma answered she would help and told Bea she needed some milk, could she get a couple gallons from her? Bea said, no problem. These were the days before plastic and Grandma kept milk in glass “vinegar” jugs. The type that had the finger hold at the top of the jug. Grandma used lot's of vinegar and when the jugs were empty, they were cleaned and used for milk.

The Allen's were almost a self sufficient farm/family. I would routinely walk up to their farm and get a gallon of raw milk that was loaded with rich cream. They had cows, sheep, chickens, big garden, potato patch, corn field, you name it, they had it on their 300 acres. You've read some of my other exploit's with Nathan Allen and his family. I love him like my brother.

Chapter Four. Putting all this background information together, remember, Sue is aware of a water shortage, she is resourceful, she's intelligent, and honest.

Sue and I were told by Grandma to get ready for our visit. We washed and put on our dressy play clothes. I was upstairs in my bedroom and Sue came up to hang out until we walked up to the Allens. (Yes, walk, it was only a half mile.) I heard Grandma climbling the steps and when she arrived, I made a mental note, Grandma was wearing a dressy apron. Cool. She asked Sue if she had changed her underwear. Sue replied yes. Grandma asked, “Where are they?” Sue answers, “I changed them.” Grandma asks again, “Where are they?” Now I'm wondering, where are they? Sue stares for a moment, then replies, “I turned them inside out.” WHACK.......WHACK


Paula Johnson said...

How digusting AND ingenious!

Susan Carrier said...

Just doing my part at an early age to conserve our precious natural resources.

Unfortunately, my most precious natural resource got the brunt of it.

(When I heard that Robert had finally posted, I came to the library so that I could read it.)

Susan Carrier said...

PS I love the description of the apron protocol. I'd forgotten that about Grandma.

Mathews Family said...

HaHa! What a great story! And Paula I agree, how ingenious for an 8 year old! Aunt Susan you haven't changed a bit. You are still the thoughtful, resourceful, frugal, and smart gal you were in '62! I love to hear stories about you guys growing up at Grandma's.

Marco and Dee-Dee said...

This is a wonderful, wonderful story!! The musings of a sibling. The start of a screenplay written by Susan. The beginnings of an cable series entitled "The W.V.". The spark that ignites the movie starring Reese Witherspoon, Sally Field, and Billy Ray (Thorton or Cyrus - you choose) ,with a special appearance by Joanne Woodward as Grandma. Special screening at the Rialto in South Pas next week!

SAMO Calling said...

Susan, I think your execution of Grandma's orders were exactly what she asked for. I don't see the problem. Change she demanded - and change you did. You clever young'un. Wait! You were trying to be clever right? How old were you again?

Karen said...

What a great story!! Robert, you're a natural story teller! The dog days, rain barrel, aprons, shouted conversation across a hundred yards, "she would go after it like she was fighting snakes (they needed her on that plane), and that fabulous punch line!!! You really know how to spin a yarn!! Writing talent obviously figures big in the Carrier genes. And ingenuity!

But what I want to hear more about, right away, is those "no bake cookies". Is it an old family recipe? Will you share it? I love cookies of any sort, but when it's hot like it has been lately, no bake cookies sound divine. (Or not, depending on what the scale says tomorrow morning.)

Your story reminds me Don's family. Both of Don's grandmas had rain barrels, and always wore aprons. And Don's Dad still saves old plastic bottles as water jugs for car trips -- and old plastic bread bags for wrapping up banana peels and such things before they go in the trash.

Is it that they grew up during the depression, or is such frugality a characteristic of that part of the country?

Thanks for the tale, and thank you, Susan, for letting Robert share it!

What other clever things can everyone think of to save the environment? I can't think of anything as clever as turning underwear inside out to save water. That's even better than using a handkerchief instead of kleenex! Hmmmm ... let's see ...
everyone in a single family could share the same toothbrush and rinsewater ... and, as in the good old days, we could share bathwater (everyone bathing one after the other in the same tub of water) ... but those things aren't hygenic. The underpants thing isn't really going to make anyone sick, if they don't know about it.

Good luck tomorrow Susan! I hope the stem cells have a big party!

Mrs. Duck

Karen said...

Wow - that was one tough grannie! I assumed Sue must've done something really awful to deserve a spanking!

Janet Aird said...

Poor Susan! What I'm wondering is, Did you really think you were doing a good thing, or were you just trying to get away with it?? (Now that the story is out, how much worse can it get???)

Susan Carrier said...

I hope noone gets the idea that Grandma was a tough nut. She was the most gentle, tolerant creature alive, which is what makes the story so memorable.

Piper Robert said...

Yes, I whole heartedly agree with Sis. Our Grandma was the kindest person on the planet. She must have had a bad day.

I honestly don't believe Sue new anything was amiss or she wouldn't have done it. She always wanted to do the right thing and I always looked to her as the perfect sister. I'm with Paula, very ingenious for an eight year old. (Sue was born in 1954, I in '52.) Some events stick vividly in one's mind, this is one of them. I still remember Sue's mouth in a wide smile during the wacks.

Anyone care to see a picture of a 4 year old Ninnie Choo Choo, holding her baby doll, wearing my cowboy boots and sitting on my new bicycle on Christmas morn, with her now famous smile? Awesome. Hmmmm......maybe we could have a new caption contest. Of course, any photo or story must first have my sister's blessings. She carries a big eraser.

Mrs. Duck, if my sister doesn't have the recipe for no bake cookies, I will get it from my cousins. No bake cookies and Kool Aid.......ymmmmmm. Hey Sis, I had no bake cookies last week. Love ya!

Piper Robert said...

Hey Sis. Gotcha!!!

Susan Carrier said...

Grandma ALWAYS had no-bake cookies in the cookie jar, and I HATED them. Same goes for the corn candy and the Circus peanuts that forever filled the candy dishes.

Mathews Family said...

Every once in a while I get the sensation to make no bake cookies. I have always loved them, although I can see why one would hate them...they don't look very yummy. Think this picture,:

with chocolate and peanut butter :)

I have the recipe if anyone is interested!

Mathews Family said...

Ps. I vote yes for the new caption contest.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! What a telling! It brings me back to days of shucking corn and endless stringing of the beans, all with no bake cookies around the house. Must be a regional recipe for all of us with West Virginian roots.

I think Susan should ask my sister to share her inside-out underwear story. That'd be a hoot! And who can turn down a cancer patient's request?? (:

Anyway, I enjoyed the story and look forward to the next caption contest!

Tara in Virginia

Suzy Keleher said...

Sure, I'd love to have the recipe! Loved the story! Want more!...would love to see the pick!
My great grandma had a pig farm, sold real estate till she was 90, and swore by aloe vera for everything. She had the best corn from her garden than any I have had in my whole life and taght me how to cook a good duck...I miss her and her work ethic so much! Love you, Suze