ONE DAY WHEN MAMA AND PAPA WENT TO TOWN,
AN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD #23
One day, I awoke and much to my surprise,
I didn’t smell coffee brewing;
I went down stairs and
could not believe my eyes
There mama sat, in her Sunday best,
With gloves, her purse and hat–
Then Pa came in–and he is dressed up too!
What could I make of that?
He said “the team is hitched to go”
Mama said “I’m ready too,
I just need to give young sis a list
of things for her to do”
My eyes were wide; I took the list
that mama wrote for me;
I was to go and gather eggs,
and give the hens some feed;
I was to take some jars from the pantry shelf
some applesauce and beets,
and there was bread and butter that
My brother and I could eat.
“He’s got his own chores” Papa said,
“And you have got your own”
“don’t want to hear no fussin,’
feuding over some old bone”
“Yessir” I said, my eyes still on,
the list that seemed so long,
Mama said “I want you to make up supper
and we’ll eat when we get home”
Yes mama” I answered, feeling fearful,
They’d never gone away before;
Mama gave me a kiss and off they went
Out through the kitchen door.
I fixed tea for Luke and milk for me,
and got out bread and jelly,
I ate a lot of fresh-baked bread
to satisfy my belly.
Then Luke went out to tend the pigs,
and lead the cows to pasture,
Then he went to sow the seed
that papa said he should master.
With mama’s basket, I gathered eggs
and fed the hens some mash,
Mama sells the eggs in town,
that’s how she gets some cash.
I cleaned the eggs like mama did,
and laid them down in straw;
I swept the kitchen and the yard,
It wasn’t hard at all;
from the cellar, I brought up applesauce and beets,
and then thought that I should bake a cake,
I followed mama’s receipt in her cookbook
and put it on to bake.
from the smokehouse I cut a slice
of ham and chopped it up,
Then in a pot I put runner beans
and carrots, ’bout cup.
Midday my brother came to eat
more of mama’s bread and butter,
Then I tidied up the kitchen,
so there wasn’t any clutter.
’bout supper time all was done,
and I had he table set,
When we heard the wagon wheels,
Luke said “That’s them, I bet”
Oh, pa and mama praised us both
and said we’d done them proud,
They ate the supper that I’d made,
and Pa said that he allowed
He’d left some room to try the cake,
I fixed the plates with pride,
I saw my mama’s eyes fill up,
the first time I’d seen her cry.
Then papa said “we have some news”
We wondered what it was,
They went to see the banker, today,
and the reason was, because,
He said they’d paid the mortgage off,
the farm was free and clear,
Luke and I stood up and clapped,
and gave a rousing cheer.
I didn’t really understand
how much it meant, that day,
Years would pass before I knew,
by now I’m old and gray;
Luke and I stayed on the farm,
long after our folks had died;
and now the land belongs to us,
I feel gratitude inside;
It could have all been left to Luke,
a lot of people feel that way ,
But papa left it to me, too,
there was naught anyone could say.
and so I cooked and kept the house
and tended to mama’s hens,
I sold the eggs to folks in town,
the circle never ends.
Sandra Lee Smith
Originally posted June 30, 2010
Updated October 13, 2018