RURAL BRYANT, SD, PRESENTS:
by Grandson Ron Ginther
somehow he learned to fix his family's shoes.
Flapping soles made sad little souls,
but his big needle and thick thread
did wonders while the children lay abed.
Holes? He'd sew on a nifty patch,
and a cushioning pad for sore or freezing feet
was a little clean barn thatch!
Shoes could even be cut in two,
the good part saved,
the other used for patching too.
When all else failed, there was a trip to town
for a Hestad "store-bought."
But that was the very last resort,
for thriftiness was what Papa taught.
You didn't go spend your scarce money, you "made do"
with what you already had,
even Christmas was sparse with gift-giving,
recalling Christ born in a stable that smelled bad.
Some farm kids back then came to school in bare feet,
not because they particularly wanted to,
or thought it was "cool" or "neat."
Their parents just couldn't afford
to keep them in shoewear all year round.
But Papa wouldn't have his children
looking with embarassed faces toward the ground!
No, he had his needle, he had his thread and tough glue,
and his handy knife was sharp,
and cut the leather through.
Maybe the result was not quite what you call brand-new,
yet it still looked pretty good
whether at school or sitting
as reverently as possible in the church pew.
Papa and Mama had a large family,
and with their feet, numbered twenty-two.
That was a lot of feet
to cover with shoewear Papa's skill "made do."
And yet we must not forget: that's not by any means all--
how about four-footed ones in the stall?
For Papa had more than one horse to be shoed,
and you couldn't let them go unshod until you felt the mood!
I suppose Papa Stadem had to call in an expert for that,
but he must have helped considerably, giving entertainment to the barn cat!
It was a lot of cut and scrape to get each hoof ready,
then let the blacksmith do his part,
while he said comforting things and held the horse steady.
When finally all were shoed most satisfactorily,
Alfred could stand back, sigh with relief,
and invite the blacksmith to the house
for Mama's famous donuts and coffee!
My feet – your feet – our parent’s feet are blessed of God and oh, how they travelled to take the Good News. I daily kneel to wash my Mother’s feet now.
It is a good moment to get her to talk about those mountains she and Daddy climbed in Alaska and how they skied with me on their backs besides all the hymnals, Bibles, etc… whatever they needed for the beginning church.
How blessed are the feet of them who take the Gospel… oh boy, those were quite the days during all my years as a child and teenager in Brazil watching my Mother tirelessly WALK to people’s homes to give them the truth of the Gospel… always with a song on her lips.
She told me this week about Daddy’s idea to use sticks that he and she would hold onto… he in the lead and her behind… to make it up, up and up to the top of some steep places. She said those sticks were so helpful. It made me think of team work. How we need each other in this great job of world evangelization.
P.S. My Bro. in law fixes many of our shoes here. He must have taken lessons from his Dad Clayton Templeton or maybe Grandpa Stadem. He does well.
I sure could have used Grandpa's cobbling help, growing up, as shoewear was a big concern in our family.
If something happened to ruin or wear out our one good pair, that was it! We'd have to go back to the worn out ones in the closet, if we still had them! One younger sister of mine had to wear shoes with holes in the soles, I recall. They got holes in them just after a week or so after she bought them, so she was stuck with them as they were, so cardboard had to be put in the soles to keep wearing them that way.
We had to wear shoes beyond the time when our feet had outgrown them too. Toes got pinched and even made crooked for life.
Had that happen to you? Not fun! But that was life. No running to the store for a new and nicer and bigger pair, no going to any store for thirft items either (there were no stores back then like that we have today). We didn't have the money anyway for the thirft items--you just had to make do with what you had.
Not that I recommend this, it was just the way we had to live, at that time. A large family has to be handled the same, and we all shared the scarcity, until some siblings got older and got part-time jobs and could afford nicer things for themselves (didn't happen to me, my two youngest sisters and my youngest brother, that I recall, just the older siblings).
It may be unbelievable to you, but I did not go to a restaurant and buy some food there until I was nineteen. I did not go to a major length film until I saw the Ten Commandments by Cecil B. DeMille came around the Augustana Academy president paid the way for the entire student body of 100-200 students to go to the Canton theater to view it--he reserved the entire theater for us, as he thought it was such a magnificent, Biblically-true portrayal of Moses and the people of Israel delivered by Almighty God from Egypt.
At school at either home or at the Academy, I never could go to the Canteen and buy a snack, or an ice cream bar or candy bar-- it was simply out of the question, I had no money for such things, the whole three years I was at the Academy in South Dakota.
Getting a haircut was really an ordeal too! It cost $1.00 back then, but where was I going to get it, as the 20 cents I earned an hour working in the dishwashing room of the cafeteria all went to pay my tuition?
Hair was mostly cut short then, in crewcut style, and mine was no exception. At home Mom cut my hair, and I took her haircuts for granted, but at the Academy I was on my own! I can't say to this day how I scratched the money together for a single haircut. Maybe I appealed to Mom in a letter, and she sent $1. But it didn't happen often, if that ever was the case. I couldn't have done that very often, as she had no money to spare to send for haircuts. I do recall that I desperately tried snipping away at it with a scizzors, but my haircutting wasn't very good, and drew some very scornful and "cutting" comments from other boys about the way my hair looked, particularly in back where I couldn't see to cut straight.
Before the Academy, I earned the money for shoes each fall for starting school by picking berries the whole spring and into the summer. I earned just enough for one change of clothes (shirt and pants) and the shoes--$50.00. Mom could not afford to outfit us all--impossible. We had to earn these clothes and shoes ourselves. It was good we earned this money, it taught us to stick to the hard and gruelling work in the cold and the heat and the dirt and tedium of the berryfield, and at the end of the season came the pay-off, our glorious money and the means to buy ourselves what we wanted to wear for the first day in school! It wasn't just a handout from our parents, (and we got no allowance either!), we truly earned it ourselves! And we didn't make it hard on our dear mom, who was already working very hard to keep the house for us and the roof over our heads and provide our food and pay heat and light bills, plus keep the family car going that took her to work and got us to church every Sunday.
Papa Stadem did what he had to do, and so did we in our fatherless family. God was with us, or we would never have made it through the scarce times. We learned some things though, and were always grateful for things others take for granted. We are still like that. I can't undestand what people are thinking when they complain about things they don't like in their luxurious lives. They have indoor plumbing, flush toilets, hot water, tubs and showers, all which we didn't have. They even had bedrooms of their own.
Their parents bought them clothes and several pairs of shoes and gave them allowances and money for hot school lunches. Incredible. I can't understand such attitudes they have, for they now are adults who feel they are forever entitled to their comfortable lifestyles, when actually it is the sheer grace of God that they are so blessed, and they are ENTITLED to absolutely none of it, even though they have earned every penny.
The only ones of us who know what I am talking about are the missionary cousins. Though they never trumpeted it, I found out recently that their parents would give 2/3rds of their support from supporters to help the poor and the church workers, and live on the remainder--they did this routinely. They didn't even buy toilet paper! But we're entitled to toilet paper, scented too, right? But they didn't think this way. They thought of others first over their own needs. What a difference there is between entitlement and grace!--Ed.