Story Hour is a collection of short, auto-biographical stories written by my father, about his childhood memories growing up on a farm in Upstate New York.
Introducing Thelma Louise
December 31, 1937. It was cold out. Not snowing or windy, just cold. Jack, Dick, Dugal and I were banished from the house. I can’t say for certain that Alex was with us or not. He was kinda little to be pushed out into the bitter cold day. In fact, I wasn’t sure I was supposed to be out there, shivering and turning blue.
There was a reason for this expulsion from our snug nest. There was a strange auto in our driveway along with DG’s Model-A. The strange auto belonged to the local doctor from Pulaski, probably Dr. Crocker. I believe Dr Crocker had delivered all of us kids at home, in the little garage, and now on the farm the last new member of my generation was about to enter this cruelly cold and barren, snow covered little part of the world.
As an eight year old boy, along with my brothers, we were not to be allowed to witness or be near the birth of a child. We were all told to go outside and behave, which we were doing. It was not very enjoyable and not a lot of conversation was going around. Other than an occasional muffled cry there was nothing but silence from the house.
After about an hour and a half, I was ready to head for the barn. At least it would be a little warmer with the cows but Jack and Dick said we should stay together for one reason or another. Shortly thereafter there were several loud cries, more like screams and then a very faint little cry. Jack, the authority on such things announced, "The baby is here."
This didn’t change a hell of a lot for us. It was still cold out. DG came out on the side porch carrying a package wrapped in an old blanket and called Dick to the porch. Handing the package to Dick he instructed him to take the package out back behind the pig pen, soak it good with kerosene and burn it up. Of course Jack, Dick and probably Dugal had seen calves born and were aware of the placenta or afterbirth that accompanied the new born. I was totally ignorant and didn’t want to know anything about it.
Dugal, in one of his rare moments of eloquence, was rambling on with all sorts of misinformation and misconceptions. After a short while we headed back towards the house and quietly entered the warm kitchen. Several pans of hot water sat on the stove but all seemed to be in a normal state of affairs. Just then the door from mom’s side of the house opened and into the kitchen came DG and Dr. Crocker.
Dr. Crocker was assuring DG that the baby was perfectly normal. It appeared healthy and Mrs. Brown knew more about taking care of babies than he did, so he might as well leave. Which he did. DG made a big fuss about moving things around on the stove and asked about the cows and what time did we need to start milking. Dick gave a perfunctual reply and the four of us boys headed through the hall door to mom’s room.
Mom looked as though she had been through the wringer, which indeed she had. The baby with fat pink cheeks was sound asleep. We didn’t say anything for a minute and then I saw that half smile and the wink as she said, “That’s the end of that.”
We managed to find some bread and jam for supper that night and by next morning every thing was back to normal. Mom was up early, got the stove going, made coffee and got out the makings for oatmeal. When I came scooting through the door in my escape from the upper room with no heat, the others were already there and mom was introducing our new sister, Thelma Louise Brown.