GRANDMA'S ATTIC SERIES
Ask for these titles by Arleta Richardson,
available from Chariot Books:
In Grandma's Attic
More Stories from Grandma's Attic
Still More Stories from Grandma's Attic
Treasures from Grandma
Sixteen and Away from Home
Eighteen and on Her Own
Nineteen and Wedding Bells Ahead
At Home in North Branch
New Faces, New Friends
Stories from the Growing Years
Christmas Stories from Grandma's Attic
The Grandma's Attic Storybook
The Grandma's Attic Cookbook
The Orphans' Journey Book One—Looking for Home
The Orphans' Journey Book Two—Whistle-stop West
The Orphans' Journey Book Three—Prairie Homestead
More Stories from
ILLUSTRATED BY DORA LEDER
A Division of Cook Communications
1 The Nuisance in Ma's Kitchen
2 Grandma's Sampler
3 Mrs. Carter's Fright
4 When Grandma Needed Prayer
5 The Stranger
6 The Big Snowstorm
7 Grandma and the Slate
8 A Pig in a Poke
9 Grandma's Day Off
10 How News Spread
12 The Slate Pencil
13 What Shall We Write About?
14 The Cover-Up
15 The Haircut
16 Grandma Makes a Friend
who knew that I could write these stories
and was so pleased when I did.
Chariot Books is an imprint of Chariot Family Publishing Cook Communications Ministries, Elgin, Illinois 60120 Cook Communications Ministries, Paris, Ontario
Kingsway Communications, Eastbourne, England
MORE STORIES FROM GRANDMA'S ATTIC Copyright @ 1979 David C. Cook Publishing Co.
All rights reserved. Except for brief excerpts for review purposes, no part of this book may be reproduced or used in any form without written permission from the publisher.
Designed by Eric Walljasper
Cover illustration by Mary O'Keefe Young
First Printing, 1979
First Printing, Revised Edition 1994 97 96 95 94 543
Printed in the United States of America
ISBN: 0-7814-0086-4 LC: 78-73125
When Grandma Was Young
Ever wonder what it was like when your grandmother was a little girl? I did. And I was lucky enough to have a grandma who never forgot the fun and laughter of her childhood years.
One hundred years ago! That's when my grandma lived on a little farm in Michigan with her ma and pa and her two brothers, Reuben and Roy.
My trips to Grandma's old house were my favorite times. I explored the attic and the root cellar, the barn and the meadow brook—all the places a little girl named Mabel, my grandma, knew and loved.
The attic was dusty and creaky, but what marvelous treasures it contained! A funny-looking wire thing that turned out to be something to wear. A slate and the hard
pencil that grandma used to write on it, an ancient trunk filled with quilt pieces, and the button basket, a miracle of mysteries. The old house was really a big storybook.
And those stories became mine as Grandma told them to me. I could hear Nellie, the family's gentle horse, clip-clopping up the long tree-bordered lane and see a small goat dancing stiff-legged through Ma's kitchen. I could enjoy the excitement of a day at the exhibition grounds.
From my grandma I learned the meaning of kindness and compassion. I learned how important prayer is, and how rewarding life can be when it is lived for the Lord.
All of this was possible because I loved to hear stories as much as Grandma loved to tell them.
So if you are young enough to appreciate a story—and just about everyone is—come with me to a little farm in Michigan and enjoy the laughter and tears that old farmhouse saw so many years ago....
in Ma's Kitchen
When Grandma called from the backyard, I knew I was in for it. It was her would-you-look-at-this voice, which usually meant I was responsible for something.
"What, Grandma?" I asked, once I reached where she was hanging up the washing.
"Would you look at this? I just went into the kitchen for more clothespins, and came back out to find this."
I looked where she was pointing. One of my kittens had crawled into the clothes basket and lay sound asleep on a clean sheet.
"If you're going to have kittens around the house, you'll have to keep an eye on them. Otherwise, leave them in the barn where they belong. It's hard enough to wash sheets once without doing them over again."
Grandma headed toward the house with the soiled sheet, and I took the kitten back to the barn. But I didn't agree that it belonged there. I would much rather have had the whole family of kittens in the house with me. Later I mentioned this to Grandma.
"I know," she said. "I felt the same way when I was your age. If it had been up to me, I would have moved every animal on the place into the house every time it rained or snowed."
"Didn't your folks let any pets in the house?" I asked.
"Most of our animals weren't pets," Grandma admitted. "But there were a few times when they were allowed in. If an animal needed special care, it stayed in the kitchen. I really enjoyed those times, especially if it was one I could help with."
"Tell me about one," I said, encouraging her to tell me another story about her childhood.
"I remember one cold spring when Pa came in from the barn carrying a tiny goat."
' "I'm not sure we can save this one." Pa held the baby goat up for us to see. "The nanny had twins last night, and she'll only let one come near her. I'm afraid this one's almost gone."
Ma agreed and hurried to find an old blanket and a box for a bed. She opened the oven door, put the box on it, and gently took the little goat and laid it on the blanket. It didn't move at all, just lay there barely breathing.
"Oh, Ma," I said. "Do you think it will live? Shouldn't we give it something to eat?"
"It's too weak to eat right now," Ma replied. "Let it rest and get warm, then we'll try to feed it."
Fortunately it was Saturday, and I didn't have to go to school. I sat on the floor next to the oven and watched the goat. Sometimes it seemed as though it had stopped breathing, and I would call Ma to look.
"It's still alive," she assured me. "It just isn't strong enough to move yet. You wait there and watch if you want to, but don't call me again unless it opens its eyes."
When Pa and my brothers came in for dinner, Reuben stopped and looked down at the tiny animal. "Doesn't look like much, does it?"
I burst into tears. "It does so!" I howled. "It looks just fine! Ma says it's going to open its eyes. Don't discourage it!"
Reuben backed off in surprise, and Pa came over to comfort me. "Now, Reuben wasn't trying to harm that goat. He just meant that it doesn't ... look like a whole lot."
I started to cry again, and Ma tried to soothe me. "Crying isn't going to help that goat one bit," she said. "When it gets stronger, it will want something to eat. I'll put some milk on to heat while we have dinner."
I couldn't leave my post long enough to go to the table, so Ma let me hold my plate in my lap. I ate dinner watching the goat. Suddenly it quivered and opened its mouth.
"It's moving, Ma!" I shouted. "You'd better bring the milk!"
Ma soaked a rag in the milk, and I held it while the little goat ate greedily. By the time it had fallen asleep again, I was convinced that it would be just fine.
And it was. By evening the little goat was standing on its
wobbly legs and began to baa loudly for more to eat.
"Pa, maybe you'd better bring its box into my room," I suggested at bedtime.
"Whatever for?" Pa asked. "It will keep warm right here by the stove. We'll look after it during the night. Don't worry."
"And we aren't bringing your bed out here," Ma added, anticipating my next suggestion. "You'll have enough to do, watching that goat during the day."
Of course, Ma was right. As the goat got stronger, he began to look for things to do. At first he was content to grab anything within reach and pull it. Dish towels, apron strings, and tablecloth corners all fascinated him. I was kept busy trying to move things out of his way.
From the beginning the little goat took a special liking to Ma, but she was not flattered.
"I can't move six inches in this kitchen without stumbling over that animal," she sputtered. "He can be sound asleep in his box one minute and sitting on my feet the next. I don't know how much longer I can tolerate him in here."
As it turned out, it wasn't much longer. The next Monday Ma prepared to do the washing in the washtub Pa had placed on two chairs near the woodpile. Ma always soaked the clothes in cold water first, then transferred them to the boiler on the stove.
I was in my room when I heard her shouting. "Now you put that down! Come back here!"
I ran to the kitchen door and watched as the goat circled the table with one of Pa's shirts in his mouth. Ma was right behind him, but he managed to stay a few feet ahead of her.
"Step on the shirt, Ma!" I shouted as I ran into the room. "Then he'll have to stop!"
I started around the table the other way, hoping to head him off. But the goat seemed to realize that he was outnumbered, for he suddenly turned and ran toward the chairs that held the washtub.
"Oh, no!" Ma cried. "Not that way!"
But it was too late! Tub, water, and clothes splashed to the floor. The goat danced stiff-legged through the soggy mess with a surprised look on his face.
"That's enough!" Ma said. "I've had all I need of that goat, take him out and tie him in the yard, Mabel. Then bring me the mop, please."
I knew better than to say anything, but I was worried about what would happen to the goat. If he couldn't come back in the kitchen, where would he sleep?
Pa had the answer to that. "He'll go to the barn tonight." "But Pa," I protested, "he's too little to sleep in the barn, besides, he'll think we don't like him anymore!"
"He'll think right," Ma said. "He's a menace, and he's not staying in my kitchen another day."
"But I like him," I replied. "I feel sorry for him out there alone. If he has to sleep in the barn, let me go out and sleep with him!"
My two brothers looked at me in amazement.
"You?" Roy exclaimed. "You won't even walk past the barn after dark, let alone go in!"
Everyone knew he was right. I had never been very brave about going outside after dark. But I was more concerned about the little goat than I was about myself.
"I don't care," I said stubbornly. "He'll be scared out there and he's littler than I am."
Ma didn't say anything, probably because she thought I'd change my mind before dark. I didn't though. When Pa started for the barn that evening, I was ready to go with him. Ma saw that I was determined, so she brought me a blanket.
"You'd better wrap up in this," she said. "The hay is warm, but it's pretty scratchy."
I took the blanket and followed Pa and the goat out to the barn. The more I thought about the long, dark night, the less it seemed like a good idea, but I wasn't going to give in or admit that I was afraid.
Pa found a good place for me to sleep. "This is nice and soft and out of the draft. You'll be fine here."
I rolled up in the blanket, hugging the goat close to me as I watched Pa check the animals. The light from the lantern cast long scary shadows through the barn, and I thought about asking Pa if he would stay with me. I knew better, though, and all too soon he was ready to leave.