#RWISA “RISE-UP” TOUR DAY 3, Jan Sikes, @jansikes3 #RRBC #RRBC_COMMUNITY #RWISARISEUP


Welcome to Day 3 of the 2nd “RWISA RISE-UP” Blog Tour! Today I’m up and I hope you enjoy my contribution!

DEPRESSION SOUP

By Jan Sikes

She stood in a line her head bowed low

There was nowhere to run, no place to go

With clothes that were ragged

And shoes that were worn

There were millions just like her

She wasn’t alone

America’s Great Depression had stolen their homes

Took its toll on their bodies

Tried to squash their souls

But she squared her shoulders, raised her eyes

Fierce determination replaced her sighs

She’d fight to survive, that much was true

Although many times, she’d be sad and blue

Someday there would be plenty

But for now, she was caught in a loop

She held out her bowl

For another serving

Of Depression Soup

Born in Missouri in 1917, my mom, Marian Edith Clark, learned about hardships at a young age.

Her mother, my grandmother, Sarah Jane, was sickly. The household chores fell on my mom’s shoulders when she was still a child. She shared memories of having to stand on a box so she could reach the stove to cook their meals.

My mom blue eyes sparkled, and her smile could light up a midnight sky. She started school in Treece, Kansas. Her family were migrant workers. Anytime they found an abandoned house, even if it was spooky, they moved in. Eventually, they landed in Pitcher, Oklahoma, where her father found a job in the iron and ore mines. She was in the ninth grade when he had an accident in the mines, and she had to quit school to help make a living for the family.

Her father became a bootlegger in Oklahoma. He would often get caught and wind up in jail for six months at a time, leaving the family to fend for themselves.

They eventually moved to Arkansas, where they had kinfolk who were sharecroppers. They picked cotton, and in Mom’s words, “Nearly starved to death.”

When she was around fourteen, her dad took the family to the Texas cotton fields. The whole family could pick, and they would make twenty-five cents for every hundred pounds of cotton.

We found this story written in a journal after Mom passed away.

“My last school was in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, population around 2,000. We lived two miles out in the country. I went to a two-room school. A man and his wife were both teachers. He taught in one room and her in the other. The man teacher went crazy and tried to kill his wife. When she got away, she came to our house. I’ll never forget how bloody her head was. When the police found him, he had crawled up under their house. So, they put him in a mental hospital.”

The Great Depression hit America in 1929, wiping out any semblance of a prospering economy. It was during that catastrophic era that my mom and dad met in Sayre, Oklahoma. At the time, she was babysitting for one of Dad’s sisters, and living in a government migrant camp with her family.

She was only seventeen, but they fell head-over-heels in love and decided to marry.

Mom had no shoes to wear for the ceremony, and a woman next to them in the camp loaned her a pair of shoes.

On April 14, 1934, they said their wedding vows in a preacher’s living room and began life together.

There were no pictures, no fanfare, no parties, and no honeymoon.

They spent their first night as newlyweds, sharing a bed with some of my dad’s younger brothers and sisters.

Their first home was an old farmhouse with nothing in it but a wood stove, a bed, and a table. Mom had no broom to sweep the floors, and when snakes crawled across, they left trails in the dirt.

Through the years, she shared many harrowing stories of how they survived as transients. They stayed within their family group and moved from the strawberry fields in Missouri, to potato fields in Kansas, to cotton fields in Texas. Often, they had no shelter from the elements, sleeping outdoors under a shade tree. Other times, they managed to have a tent or share a tent with other family members.

Mom and Dad’s life together, began under this umbrella of hopeless poverty.

 Hunger was a constant companion. My mom had an older brother who often would go out at night and steal a chicken or watermelon.

Enmeshed in daily survival, they could see no future.

Sometime around late 1934, they moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas not knowing it was in the middle of an epidemic. They were lucky enough to find housing in a WPA camp. My dad got a job digging graves for fifty cents a week, plus a small amount of food. A man working with him warned him to stay clear of the hospital; that no one came out alive.

However, the hospital laundry was the only place Mom found work. Automation wasn’t yet widespread, and especially not in Arkansas, so all of the washing had to be done by hand on rub boards.

A large scowling woman marched up and down behind the workers with a blackjack in hand. If she thought they weren’t working hard enough or fast enough, she’d whack them across the shoulders.

During this time, my mom fell ill with Scarlet Fever and they quarantined her. They kept her in a room under lock and key. My worried dad climbed to her window with food. It became apparent that they had to get out of there, or Mom would die. One night when all was quiet, she tied bedsheets together and lowered herself from the two-story window to the ground, where Dad waited.

They caught a ride to Oklahoma on the back of a flatbed truck, and Mom eventually recovered. They never went back to Fort Smith, Arkansas.

As the years passed, much of my dad’s family migrated to California, the land of milk and honey. But Mom and Dad didn’t go with them due to my grandmother’s failing health, and a younger sister who was inseparable from my mom. They all stuck together. My grandmother passed away in 1942 in Roswell, New Mexico. Pictures show a large goiter on her throat. She died long before I was born.

Mom gave birth to my siblings with help from family and friends. I was the only one to arrive in a hospital setting.

By 1951, the year I was born, Mom and Dad had settled in Hobbs, New Mexico, and purchased a lot on Avenue A. They stretched their tent and immediately started building a house. They put down roots and said goodbye to the transient life they’d known.

Like everything else in their lives, they built our house themselves. A place not too far from Hobbs, The Caprock, had an abundance of large flat rocks. Every day Dad wasn’t working, he’d head up and bring back a load of rocks to cover the sides of the house. That house withstood many storms, and still stands today.

When I was around twelve, I distinctly remember watching Mom climb up and down a ladder with bundles of shingles to roof the house. And she did this alone.

I believe I can declare with all certainty that no two people worked harder than my mom and dad.

Mom was a fantastic cook, having learned from necessity at a young age. She had a sweet tooth and loved to bake. Her specialty was pies. She could make a peach cobbler that would melt in your mouth.

She never measured anything. She’d throw in a handful of this and a pinch of that, and it turned out perfectly every time.

Mom was not a worrier. Her philosophy was, “If I can’t fix it, there’s no need to waste time worrying about it.”

I’ve strived to adopt that same philosophy.

She lived by these seven wisdoms:

  1. Count your blessings every day.
  2. Don’t whine or throw a fit if things don’t go your way.
  3. Take whatever trials God sees fit to give you and make the best of it. Never sit down and give up.
  4. Believe in yourself and your dreams, and they’ll come true.
  5. Love life and live for God.
  6. Hard work never killed anyone. Try your best and don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t turn out the way you first thought.
  7. Treat everyone with dignity and respect.

I didn’t always see eye-to-eye with my mom, as you know if you’ve read my books. But I never forgot her teachings, her strength, and her determination. And for the last thirty years of her life, we were close.

She was the best grandmother my two little girls ever could have hoped for. She adored them as much as they loved her.

I watch my daughters now and see them practice some of Mom’s ways with their own children, and it makes me happy.

So, here’s to my mom – the strongest woman I ever knew.

I’d love it if you’d visit my RWISA Author Page!

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA”RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA”RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!  

28 thoughts on “#RWISA “RISE-UP” TOUR DAY 3, Jan Sikes, @jansikes3 #RRBC #RRBC_COMMUNITY #RWISARISEUP

  1. I enjoyed your piece so much, Jan. Escaping the second floor by bedsheets—that’s the stuff out of a prison break movie. Wow! Her attitude about worry is far more healthy than most of us who find a way to worry about things that aren’t worthy of worrying about.😎 Her seven pearls of wisdom would solve a lot of problems.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Pete! I’m so happy you enjoyed this story about my mom. She had a great attitude and pretty much was able to stick to it. Of course, she worried when her children were sick or disaster struck, but she didn’t sit around doing nothing about it. She got busy! I agree about her seven pearls of wisdom! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Rhani. Yes, that generation of folks was stronger and much more resilient than people are today. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

      Like

  2. Jan,
    I sent a reply to you, but I want to go ahead and post some comments here. What a wonderful tribute to our parents on Mothers Day. You did such a great job with the poem and some of mom and dad’s story. People today have no idea what it is like to struggle. This brought back memories, some I love remembering and some I would rather forget. Our parents were very special and worked so hard just to keep us clothed and fed. Somehow they managed to raise all five of us. That was no easy chore. I remember the cotton patch and the McLeish farm we worked on when I was a kid. Wages had increased when I picked cotton. We got 50 cents for a hundred pounds. Somehow the tent turned into a 2 room house that eventually turned into a three bedroom two bath rock house. Families did stick together back then. I ask God to give mom and dad a hug for me often. Thanks again for writing this.
    Love,
    Brother

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my goodness! I am SO excited to see a comment here from you, brother! I truly appreciate you taking the time to stop by and read my story about Mom! You are right when you say that people today don’t know the degree of struggles that Mom and Dad knew. Yes. I’m sure some of the memories are ones you’d rather forget. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by. I love you!!

      Like

  3. That is an amazing post. Reminds me of stories my own grandparents use to tell about the depression years. There was bootlegging and bare knuckle boxing in my family, along with some poaching to feed the family. It’s important to remember these tales, because most of them weren’t written down.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree, Craig. To Mom and Dad, these stories were nothing but bad memories because they lived it, but to us and generations to come, they are priceless. I’d love to see some of your family history start showing up in your stories. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This was so beautiful, Jan. Your mother’s strength shines through guiding the next generations. Such an important lesson to never give up and to take care of family. Thank you for sharing this with us. Xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Denise! Mom was an amazing lady, and she could make the BEST peach cobbler in the world. I watched her numerous times and tried to mimic her, but she had a magic touch. Happy Mother’s day to you!

      Like

  5. I’ve seen you out and about today. Your post is AMAZING.
    Seriously, Jan, I was enthralled from start to finish. Your parents lived an amazing life and overcame such hardships. You have quite the family history. I see echoes of it in some of your books. Today’s post is a lovely tribute to your mother!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Darn you, Jan! I can never listen to Mama’s House without bawling like a baby. The song, the poem, and the story are fitting tributes to Mom. I believe you were truly inspired. And you know, you and I share everything just like Mom and Aunt Evelyn. We tell each other our deepest secrets and know we won’t be judged. You turned out a better mom I think than I did. Happy Mother’s Day! I love you dearly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by, sister. I loved telling a small part of Mom’s story. You know, you and I still need to plan a writing retreat, just the two of us, and work on writing that novel about Mom and Dad’s lives. Neither one of us is getting any younger. 🙂 I love you and am so glad you are my sister! Happy Mother’s Day to you too!

      Like

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Mark. Well, Mom and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye, which is evident in “Flowers and Stone.” She thought I was heading straight to hell in a hand-basket when I fell in love with Rick. 🙂 But, she learned to love him and by the time my girls were born, we got close and stayed that way. I appreciate your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a lovely tribute to your mom, Jan. Her journey is much like that of my dad. He, by the way, was born in Sayre. 🙂
    Thank you for sharing your mom’s wisdom with us. I particularly like “If I can’t fix it, there’s no need to waste time worrying about it.” I need to follow that advice! I LOVE “Mama’s House.” Beautiful!! ♥

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Gwen. Yes, I strive to live by Mom’s philosophy and I don’t always succeed. Your dad’s journey took him to California, which is where my dad’s folks all wound up. It was going to be the land of milk and honey. Life was hard back then and our younger generations cannot even believe all they went through. Thank you so much for stopping by and for loving “Mama’s House!” Hugs, sweet lady, and Happy Mother’s Day!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. My Dear Sweet Jan- wow what a life your mom and then your mom & dad led. I respect them for not ever giving up and loving each other through the good and bad.
    Your mom was definitely a strong loving mom.
    Her 7 rules to live by are humbling and something we should all strive to live by.
    Happy Mother’s day to you.
    Love you and thank you for sharing your mom’s story.
    I know she raised a great family with great morals.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, sweet Tonya! I loved sharing some of Mom’s story. I was the only kid born in a hospital. Even Linda was born in a tent. They knew hard times like we can’t even imagine. I appreciate you stopping by and for your kind words. Love you!

      Like

    2. Tonya, I think Jan was truly inspired with the song then poem and story. As Jan said, sometimes we didn’t see eye to eye but we loved each other with a fierceness. I miss her so much.

      Like

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