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Ozark RDF:


For better or worse, I’m back.

Though I have taken a break from submitting essays, I have not lost my pen and paper. Thus, I resume with this series dubbed “Notes on yellow paper.”

Here we go….

On the back steps with Grandma Daly

Though absent from our presence more than 60 years, well I remember my Grandma Daly and her sprawling house at the corner of Talmage and Campbell Streets in Springfield.

It was on the back steps of that house she schooled me in the use of a paring knife to remove coils of unbroken apple peel from the fruit of the massive tree that shaded our endeavor.

It’s a skill I treasure yet today, exercised often with knives not unlike Grandma’s time-worn gray steel blade riveted with a dark oak handle. Not only apples, but peaches, potatoes, pears and tomatoes grandma’s arthritic fingers deftly doctored with surgical precision.

In time, as a small boy in the early 1950s, I became as proficient with a knife as any boy might, but never matched my grandma’s hands. I can only speculate, but can be reasonably certain she inherited her digital dexterity from her mother, whose nimble fingers once played piano in Colorado mining town saloons.

Much I learned from Grandma Daly, much more than how to peel apples. Mostly, I learned how life was lived in the early 1900s. Born in 1885, Grandma cooked all of her meals on a wood stove, seldom turned on the radio, and never had a television set.

From about 1908 she lived the same house, which in different eras housed a deli/corner market, Grandpa’s sign shop and my uncles’ automotive repair shop. It was also home to four children — two boys and two girls — the youngest my mother, born in 1922. Until her passing in 1939 it was also home to Grandma’s mother.

Most of the kin who knew Grandma and Grandpa Daly are gone today, as are the unique old house at Talmage and Campbell, the old apple tree and most vestiges of Grandma’s sunken garden and the rock walls that enclosed it.

But every time take a paring knife to a big red apple, I sense and bit of Grandma Daly alive and well, and I see her, still, on the back steps with this boy at her side —the boy once I was and will ever be.

Copyright 2023, James E. Hamilton; email jhamilton000@centurytel.net. Read more of his works in Ozarks RFD 2010-2015, available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or from the author.


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