Thursday, December 13, 2007

Get out your tissues~this one will get you !

Thanks to a former co-worker for sending me this (in September 1960 I was working at the phone company making 90 cents an hour,so I can't imagine what it was like for this dear lady);

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket.

Their father was gone.

The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two.

Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared.

Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries.

Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either.

If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.

I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.

The seven of us went to every factory, store
and restaurant in our small town.

No luck.

The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince whoever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job.

Still no luck . The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop.

It was called the Big Wheel.

An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids.

She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning.

She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night.

I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people.

I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night.

She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep.

This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.

That night when the little ones and I knelt to
say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the BigWheel.
When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money-- fully half of what I averaged every night.

As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage.

The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.

One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires!

There was no note, no nothing, just those beaut iful brand new tires.

Had angels taken up residence in Indiana ? I wondered.

I made a deal with the local service station.

In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office.

I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for
him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough.

Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids.

I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning.

Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repai r.

On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe.

A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels inthe pinball machine.


The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.

When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes.


I quickly opened the driver's side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat.

Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box.


Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10!

I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans.

Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and cannedvegetables and potatoes.
There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items.

And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude.

And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop

10 comments:

breakaway1968 said...

Oh you were right!  this is such a cute story!  Can you imagine trying to raise THAT many kids on your own back then!?  Thanks for sharing this story it sure was cute :)  

ally123130585918 said...

What a lovely story ~ you were right I did need those tissues ~ Ally x

plgary said...

You were right about the tissues.
I should have waited and read it when I got off of work.
Thanks,
Pat

jeadie05 said...

Sniff oh Linda ..that is lovely ,Ihad one baby boy that year ...love Jan xx

nay0114 said...

Very sweet story.
I'm caroling through J-land you can come by my journal and here the song I have decided to share with everyone.
http://journals.aol.com/nay0114/almost-paradise-ii/
Take care, Chrissie

cayasm said...

What a touching story it just goes to show there is a lot of goodness in the world, and sometimes if just shared a little bit of what we have it makes a huge difference.

Yasmin

mariealicejoan said...

Wonderful story Linda.  Thanks for sharing it with us.
Marie
http://journals.aol.co.uk/mariealicejoan/MariesMuses/

wwfbison said...

Thank you for sharing this story and proving there is good in the world!
Lisa

bg7397 said...

This story is wonderful.  Whenever I hear about the goodness people possess, I am never surprized.  It was a gracious deed.  I can't imagine how thankful and grateful you had to be; not knowing, Yet knowing that it was the people around you, watching you, talking with you and caring for your life, to share so much goodness and kindness was truly an Amazing Grace.
I am happy for you.   Even back then, I three years old after you blessed Christmas morning event,  I loss my father, and six years after your delightful blessing, I loss my mother.  At only six years old, recalling my last Christmas with my mother was truly a beautiful morning .  I remember I had made a messs of things that Christmas morning, but she just held me in her arms, never saying a harsh word.  Well, this is your wonderful memory.  Just wondering, have you shared this memory with your children?   You were right, a teary and heart felt story.  
May you have many more blessed Christmases.

fasttrack58 said...

I always enjoy this story....
Linda :)