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The Pepper Lady by Ellen Schroeder
Fall 2005      


story extras

'Houses were never locked'

'I discovered my mind'

November sale

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Design's Kitchen

Funny Business

The Pepper Lady


'Houses were never locked'
Personal reflections from Jean Andrews

Not only was my father a banker [in Kingsville], but he also farmed and raised cattle. Both parents loved growing things in our flower-filled yard. I even had my own flower bed where I cultivated pansies and Easter lilies. At the farm we had horses to ride and knew the location of the nests of every rabbit and covey of quail. Even the huge black snakes were given names. Although we lived in town, from the swing on our front porch we could hear a chorus of coyotes singing at dusk.

Of course we did not miss TV and such because we had never heard of them. However, we did have a couple of things that children today don't have — freedom and security. We could and did wander any place in town. Everyone knew whose kids you were. Houses were never locked. Keys were left in the cars. You could explore any and everywhere. Momma or some help was always at home or you could go to grandmother's house. The word "babysitter" had not been coined.

I knew every alley and garbage can and vacant house from our house to my grandmother's, seven or eight blocks away, where I went nearly every day. We also went into the cool, quiet little library that the women's club built and sat and browsed, or whispered with Mrs. Walker the librarian, who didn't let anyone bother you.

People didn't pack up and move all the time; therefore, you kept your same friends from kindergarten to college. Newcomers to our town were looked upon with suspicion until they passed whatever tests the locals gave them. The first girl playmate in my life moved to our neighborhood from Kansas during the fifth grade. Her daddy was a veterinarian, but her mother made the mistake of re-wallpapering her house by herself. It was years before the local ladies got over the shock of such unseemly behavior. Women just didn't do that kind of work.



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