Although there seemed to be lots of food everywhere -in the fields, in the store, in the canning coolers, we didn’t seem to get to eat very much of it.
I was on “the skinny kid list” and kids on that list were suppose to get something extra but I’m not sure what that was. One time I got a banana. And for a little while my mom had these chewable vitamins that she gave us. What a treat those were! My favorite thing we got to eat but not often enough was soybean tortillas. They were so good! Sometimes pressure cookers would explode all over the ceiling while cooking the soybeans but it was worth it. The ladies would make up dough for the tortillas and I liked to help roll the little balls flat. If we were lucky we’d also get margarine and nutritional yeast in them too. That was the best.
But mostly what we ate was oatmeal. Everyone else put sugar in theirs but my mom didn’t let us eat sugar. So I was given bowls of plain oatmeal. Once in a while I’d get something like peanutbutter in my oatmeal but that didn’t help much. I hated oatmeal. That’s what we had for breakfast every morning. Sometimes they’d fry up left over oatmeal for lunch but a lot of times we would have cold, gloppy oatmeal leftovers for lunch. I would try to tell them “I hate oatmeal” but everyone would just laugh. I didn’t know why they were laughing, it wasn’t funny! This was a serious issue, I really hated it. It made me gag and want to throw up. I didn’t know that I was pronouncing it “oaitmeal”…”I hate oaitmeal”. That’s why everyone was laughing at me. At the time I thought I was saying it just like everyone else.
We ate a lot of things that grew wild. Plaintain, a big leaf that grew in clusters close to the ground often in grassy areas. I liked eating it, it was good to chew on and would make my mouth dry and thirsty but being thirsty was okay because there was plenty of cold, delicious water to drink from the many spickets placed here and there. Sassafrass leaves were much better. They grew in the woods and you could also chew on the sweet sticks. Sour leaf grew on trees and was extremely sour but us kids chowed down on it anyway. The worst was lambsquarter. Ugh. My mom insisted we go pick and eat it. She said it was very good for us but I despised the taste. My favorite wild plant was licorice…although one looking to eat some would have to be careful not pick the plants that looked very much like it and tasted absolutely horrible.
In the summer my mom would tie a bonnet on my head and send me down the hill to the meadow with a little pail to go pick blackberries from a small wild patch. There were paths stomped out through the thorny bushes and pickins were slim. Any berries left were small and it took me forever sweating in the hot sun to cover the bottom of my pail.
Us little kids would sneak cat food. Although this was not allowed. When a kid would score a little cat food we’d all gather around being real nice hoping to be bestowed a piece.The older kids went a riskier route and snatched sticks of margarine when they could. They would take them in the woods and eat them like bananas.
I made several mudpies in those days that were very hard to resist. I squatted outside our bus and decorated them with sawdust, sticks and rocks and they looked so delicious. I wanted to eat them so badly but I didn’t -they were just mud.