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The Personal Histories


Darvil Burns McBride & Josephine Phillips McBride




There were no real chores for me as a little girl. In fact, Eleanor always said of me, "If there are dishes to do, Jo always has to go to the privy." (It was out the back door and down the path.) She said that all the time in jest, for there was no truth to it. Neither of us had to do many dishes. Mama said that it wasn't worth bothering us girls, that she really didn't mind doing them. And true, she didn't. Doing dishes has never been a big chore for me either. I believe it’s the influence Mother’s attitude had on me. Bragging some though, I always felt that when I swept the floors they looked much cleaner than when anyone else did it. 


We kept chickens and a pig and often pastured a cow. What I liked most about the cow was the cream from the milk. But I never took care of the animals either because of my two big brothers. Besides, Dad always said that he didn't get his pretty girls to be farmers. Dad—though always good to his boys—we knew he was a real softy with us. Well, I never helped take care of the milk either. After it arrived in the bucket onto the kitchen sink, Mama took care of that too. Not that we weren’t cooperative and willing girls, it seems Mama always did everything.


When the milk came in, she first strained it through a cloth, then poured it into containers and placed them in the icebox. If it lacked room, she placed it in a cool room. (The electric household refrigerator hadn't been perfected yet.) Mother left the milk to cool, and as it cooled the cream rose and thickened at the top, and the longer it stood undisturbed the thicker it became. We kids skimmed it off the top and mixed it with cocoa and sugar; we just ate it by itself, firm and thick: the thicker the better, we could spoon it up doing away with it just like pudding. And if we had none at our house, my very best friend, Dubie Mickelson, across the street, always had some in the creamery room attached to her house. The iceboxes of the time were of limited capacity, and I remember that if the milk stayed unused too long it clabbered. If it clabbered, Mama either made it into cottage cheese or fed it to the chickens or pig.


In high school and college, no specific chores were assigned to me, nor did I work outside the home. I think I was always kind of a "good-for-nothing." (chuckle chuckle.) Dad worked in Thatcher for years in the Big Six general store for W. W. Pace and then for Krups Department Store in Safford. Eventually he built his own store in Thatcher and I worked there on a few occasions and enjoyed it and was willing to do a lot more, but again, he used his two big boys. I would have loved to wait on tables in a restaurant or be hired as a baby sitter, but Dad said, “No, I can make the living for my family.” Mother enjoyed the store, and she needed the break, out and away from the rigors of the household. She did love the respite, especially since she worked side by side with Dad.



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