Shirley McMurtrie

Twenty-one Lessons

Twenty-one Lessons

Not everyone should take music lessons. There are some that have a hole in their bucket, like me. Mother thought it would be nice if one of her children learned how to play the Hawaiian guitar. Island music was popular back in the days before World War II. She picked the wrong kid, me.

Corn Relish

Corn Relish

Years ago when I had a big garden, I tried to “put up” as much as I could. It seemed that if I had a full cupboard of home canned fruit and veggies, the winter would go well. If my cupboard was meager, the winter usually meant hard times for my family. It happened often enough to warn me to be prepared.

Did You Vote?

Did You Vote?

Did you vote on August 2nd in the Primary Election? I did. They say all politics is local. I agree and the Primary Election is where you can make some of the greatest differences. My dad was a stanch Democrat. I remember as a child listening to FDR giving his Fireside Chats. My dad always voted. He said he didn't have the right to complain if he didn't vote. Boy, oh boy, could he complain. He instilled the Democratic Party's ideals in me that remain today.

A Five Dollar Loan

A Five Dollar Loan

Have you ever loaned someone a few dollars and not expected it back? Most of us have at one time or another. This incident took place at a fast food restaurant on Broadway in Fountain City.

A fast food place is ideal for someone to start out or start over. It is at or near the bottom of the work ladder. If you have never worked before, and your education is minimal, you might begin your work history here. If you are retired and have fallen on hard times, they will hire you, too. If you are fresh out of prison or re-hab and especially if you're a woman, this is it.

Tomato Gravy

Tomato Gravy

My husband liked sliced tomatoes. When it came his time to serve in World War II, tomatoes were out of season. In those days if something was out of season, it was unavailable to most folks; not like today. Fresh fruit and vegetables are flown in from exotic places such as South America and India. Restaurants, back then, did serve what were called hot house tomatoes. They were grown in greenhouses. Such tomatoes were a pretty red, but flavorless.

Hot Aluminum Siding

Hot Aluminum Siding

Our house on Lee Road, near Michigan Center, had aluminum siding. It was the newest thing. Before that, there was only wood siding or brick. Aluminum is an excellent conductor of electricity as we would discover.

My father had wired our home at Pulaski. He was an electrician, but had passed on by the time we moved to Lee Road. The lumber yards were not yet selling how-to-it books. Anyway, my husband would never admit he didn't know how to do something. He just tried to bull his way through a problem. Pug wired our house on Lee Road.

Unstuffed Cabbage

Unstuffed Cabbage

Anyone who knows about Stuffed Cabbage will understand what Unstuffed Cabbage is all about. There are several ways to fix Stuffed Cabbage but only one way to do Unstuffed Cabbage. The great thing about this recipe is that it is easy to prepare. There is no boiling the cabbage, separating the leaves and then filling each one with a ground beef and rice mixture. Nope. This one is easier. Just shred or chop the cabbage and start in.

Sleep with the Fishes

Sleep with the Fishes

A number of celebrity suicides have been in the news lately. As a Christian, suicide is not an option for me, but who am I to judge? I was talking with my daughter, Anne, this evening and mentioned an episode that happened to a man I knew years ago. “You should write about that,” she said. I said that I would. Not to make me look good but to show what an influence you can have on another of God's children. Sometimes there are warning signs and sometimes there are not. There was this time. Here goes.

Blackberries and Snakes

Blackberries and Snakes

Back in Genesis, Eve had an encounter with a snake. It caused her and the rest of us a lot of trouble. I hate snakes. Oh, I know there are good ones, black snakes and such, that keep the rodent population under control. There is also the other kind. They are on my “kill now” list. They used to be on my “kill now” list, but since I am now on a walker, I seldom venture into their environment.

Sausage and Potato Bake

Sausage and Potato Bake

Most of us have a pound package of bulk pork sausage hiding in the freezer somewhere. If you do, that is the beginnings of a good casserole. I don't consider this recipe a breakfast dish. It is more like a weeknight supper.

Talking about sausage, I remember twenty years or so ago buying bulk pork sausage from someone over on Texas Valley Road. No boughten sausage tasted as good as that one. When I think of pork sausage, theirs comes to mind. Of course, stores sell their own bulk pork sausage in the meat case. That is good, too.

Pounding Down the Well

Pounding Down the Well

My husband's widowed mother married her former brother-in-law in our living room. Uncle Charlie had hurt his leg putting down our well on the property of what was to be our new home, closer to my husband's work. The minister said it wasn't written anywhere that you had to stand to be married. We were all seated.

Back to the well. The water table was high at the new place. We didn't need to drill a well, Uncle Charlie said. He would help us pound down a well. It was cheaper to do than drilling a well. The three of us could do it.

Chicken Biscuit Stew

Chicken Biscuit Stew

I remember when I worked full time in a sewing factory. My mind would wander while sewing. After you do the same stitching over and over, it doesn't take all your attention to do the job. My mind would wander to wondering what I would fix for supper that evening. My kids were in the lower grades in school and came home about the same time I did. They had a long bus ride.

My Dog Buster

Buster

We had a dog named Buster. He was a beautiful dog of questionable breed, but we loved him. Isn’t that the way it usually is? I remember him well. He didn’t start out being my dog. When Patty and Don Irwin moved in our middle house, Patty got a puppy and named him Buster. He was supposed to be a little dog, not the monster he grew into. Again, isn’t that the way it usually is?

Hush Puppies

Art work by Shirley McMurtrie

It has been said that the name for this favorite food of mine came about when some fishermen, surrounded by their hungry dogs, told them to wait. “Hush you puppies. We will have something for you in a little while.” They supposedly fried up some cornmeal in the grease the fish has been fried in and fed it to the dogs. Makes a good story.

Diapers

Diapers

In looking through the Wednesday grocery ads. I came across one for diapers. “So what!” you probably will say. Let me tell you what. Without the store coupon, the price was $24.99 for a super pack.

Shoelaces

Shoelaces

I saw a picture of a man tying up his tenny shoes or Nikes or whatever they are called nowadays. The laces were long, white and had those little metal whatsamacallits at the end of each lace. What I would have given for a set of them back in the day. Shoelaces during the Great Depression were not very sturdy. We always needed to have an extra pair in a drawer somewhere.

Nighttime in the Country

Nighttime in the Country

The power has to go out for you to see the stars at night as brightly as we did during the Great Depression. We have a yard light now, two of them really, and we can see the glow of the night lights of Knoxville on the Southeast horizon. There might be a shooting star but we don't bother looking for one. There are too many other things to do. After all, the best television programs are on at night. No, we don't linger outside like we used to do.

Cabbage

Cabbage

This may seem like a strange title for a story, but as you will see, it is appropriate. This happened a long time ago, before I knew my stepfather. Cloy Weishuhn was of Dutch extraction. He was a mountain of a man, weighing in at about 450 pounds when he was dieting and closer to 500 pounds on a bad day. He was a used car salesman and a good one. One day he sold a used car with no motor in it. When the new owner tried to drive it away, and hit the starter, nothing happened. The motor has been taken out for repairs. With it installed, he drove off the lot, happy and a little wiser.

Country Ham and Bean Soup

Country Ham and Bean Soup

My mother would be horrified if she saw all the food we waste today. She had a knack with left-overs that was almost an art. I guess today it's a lost cause. I still get a guilt trip if I toss good food out to the critters, just because there isn't enough for another meal and the refrigerator is getting covered up with left-overs.

Making Notes

Making Notes

So you think you don't have enough memories to write your life story? You are wrong. They just need to be brought out to the here and now. There is an excellent way to do it, take notes. It will take time, but you will see results.

There is nothing to stop you from writing your memories down on a note pad or in an exercise book. But memories rarely arrive in chronological order and when you start writing your book of life stories, you will be forever flicking backwards and forwards through the pages trying to find the note that you want.

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