Laughter in the Midst of a Storm
“Then we were filled with laughter, and we sang happy songs. Then the other nations said, “The Lord has done great things for them“. The Lord has done great things for us, and we are very glad.” Psalm 126: 2 – 3 (NCV)
Sometimes, it feels good to laugh in the midst of a storm. Right now, it seems as if there is a lot going on that may make us want to cry more than laugh. But at times like this, I feel better when I look for things to laugh about or at least not take so seriously. Well, this issue of no toilet paper is one of them. I was thinking about the summers my siblings, Alice, Billy and I spent in Sumner, GA with our grandparents. Arie and Bobby, my other siblings, always stayed home in St. Petersburg, FL. But, the three of us loved spending summers in the country. And, you know what? We never had toilet paper. My grandparents had an outhouse. In that outhouse was a big, thick Sears and Roebuck catalog. That catalog was our toilet paper. We city kids quickly learned to crumble up that paper until it was soft enough to use. Plus, for me it was the bonus of flipping through the catalog looking at all the cute outfits and toys.
There were other advantages to living in the country. For us, social isolation was the norm. We stayed on the farm all the time. We had few visitors. We only left to go to town on Saturday; or, to church on Sunday. However, I remember one summer, our grandparents were in New York and we stayed on the farm with our Aunt Ruthie Mae. We didn’t leave the farm for the entire summer. We had everything we needed. But, once a month, the rolling store, a large equipped truck, came around. We were in seventh heaven because our aunt bought us this huge box of cookies.
Then, there were the stories my mother told about the depression. Both my parents were born in 1921 and lived in the country. When the depression hit, Mom said it didn’t phase them. They always grew their own vegetables and raised or caught their own meat. They raised cows, hogs, chickens; caught raccoons, rabbits, squirrels. Mom said they always had big fluffy biscuits or cat heads as she called them, syrup and homemade butter and clabber milk to drink. I asked her about stories I’d heard about people jumping out of windows because they lost all their money in banks. She said, back then, people she knew were afraid of banks. They kept their money in a can under the house or in their mattress. I remember seeing my grandfather, pull a brick from the fireplace and then pull out a can with money in it. I never saw him pull out an empty can. To me, they were unafraid and rich even during hard times.
With laughter, we can also feel unafraid and rich. So, let’s realize how rich we are by thinking about things that make us smile and even laugh. Laughter removes fear. And for the moment, it sure does feel better than thinking about things that make us scared.
Now, I live in a rural area with my family. In a way, I’ve circled back to where I started all those summers ago. We have toilet paper now, but I’ve told my husband and daughter, I refuse to get caught up in the toilet paper scare…. we have lots of old catalogs and newspaper on hand; just in case…
Dear Lord, help me remember laughter is medicine for the spirit. Laughter makes everything seem brighter. Lord, show me how to always replace fear with laughter. Thank You, Lord. Amen!
The rolling store was a converted school bus. I remember spending some of the money I made hanging tobacco. I thought I was rich when Grandpa Chever gave me that envelope with that money in it. I remember Julius and I were testing the theory of ” cats have 9 lives”by dunking a cat in the water barrel they had for the animals. Well after the 2nd or 3rd dunk that barn cat jumped out and hit both of us so quick we didn’t know what happened! Grandma just laughed at all the scratches we had all over our heads and said ” That will teach you bout messing with them cats”! It’s hilarious now wasn’t so funny back then! Do you remember when I got in trouble for cussing in church? Grandpa wouldn’t let Grandma whip me because he sent me to wind up the windows in the truck and I stepped on a wasp nest that had fell in the foyer and said “Damn” when those wasp stung me on my bald head? Grandpa just laughed as he rubbed some kind of ointment on my head.
Billy, now that you mention it, I remember you leaving the church. I also remember your cute bald head after those fresh haircuts. I especially remember feeling so proud when Grandpa Chever gave us our pay envelope at the end of the week from handing tobacco. I smile when I think of how Grandpa Chever changed so much with his grandchildren. Mom said he didn’t do that with dad. Just shows that love is so strong; it changes you as you learn from prior actions. Billy, we were so blessed and so loved.
Your baby brother Fred
Perfect blog every time I read one it places me and my family history keep up the great work sis you are a blessing Straight from Heaven my family that I knew from a little boy I played with y’all at Auntie Grady’s house and for life that make a full circle what a wonderful time that it turned out to be that I was able to fit in God’s plan at a precious time in my life thank you family you all have been a great blessing to me and Vera and all my family love you so much and your husband
Arie Chever McBride
Thanks Mary, laugher is the best medicine.Henry always told me laughter was good for the soul. Even though I didn’t spend the whole summer in Sumner, the times I spent there were great,I always tried to avoid the outhouse for as long as I possibly could, that’s one of the reasons I didn’t want to stay,(the outhouse),I was always looking for a snake, after grandma told us about the one that chased her back to the house when she came out one day. I so remember that Sears catalogue,I too loved looking in it.Thanks again Sis, for the laughter, especially today,I needed it….Love you bunches.
This was too funny Mary. Everyone don’t remember outhouses but I do. I also remember how hard it was to convince my parents to open bank accounts. They did not trust banks at all. Thanks for the laugh Mary. Keep writing. Love you.
Mary, Thank you again! Laughter is definitely the best medicine. I’ve always said “never allow anyone or any circumstance steal your Joy.” Today’s challenges makes laughter more important than ever! I laughed so hard, the tears of joy were rolling down my cheeks. I remember all the priceless summers we spent in Sumner, Ga., and cherish the memories. You and I having singing contest in the old barn with Julius & Mary. Remember our favorite duo, Beachwood 4 5 7 8 9. Picking wild blueberries for Grandma Chever to make blueberry dubbies. Our entire family driving up in November for Hog killing. Dad jumping on that huge hogs back, that had managed to miss being slaughtered. The sears roebuck catalog for toilet tissue, in the old outhouse. Billy stepping on a nail, & grandma Chever beating it, applying spider webs & some fresh herb mixture. You & I walking to the mailbox, that must have been a mile from the house. Seeing a snake skin on the side of the road, & not wanting to say anything to frighten you. Memories that make me laugh and smile! Thanks again Mary. Your gift is always amazing. Love you much. Your sis, Alice (aka, shorty-short)
WOW, Alice. All those additional memories really brings a big smile to my face. Thank you so much for sharing. Love you much!!