Harmonizing with Betty – After School Chores

Anyone having lived on, or spent time on a family farm comes to realize the most prolific crop produced is chores: before school chores, after school chores and all summer chores.
In second and third grade, the girls and I competed to be the one with the most onerous before and after school chores.  I admit, I always lost on that competition for some of the girls told horrific stories of what all they had to do.  Although, none could lay claim to such an unusual one as mine.
Mom always had supper ready when we got home.  Afterwards, she and Barnard went to the barn to feed livestock and milk.  My sister Betty was left in charge of cleaning the kitchen.

I was seven, when one evening Betty crooked her figure at me and said, “You’re a suitable age to learn the art of drying dishes.”

That grown-up stuff sounded like fun, so I went with her to the kitchen.  Well, after the third day, it proved to be not much fun at all.  After school, I began to moan, play sick and if that didn’t work, run into the woods to hide.

All my schemes did not deter Betty in the least.  She convinced me just how unpleasant being dragged out of hiding could be.  And, oh yes, I was not to break any dishes on fear of death.

So, sullenly, I began my tenure of drying the dishes.

After several weeks when my dish drying was acceptable to her, she announced that I was going to learn to sing harmony with her.  Well, I liked singing, but learning to harmonize sounded hard.  From then on, dish drying time turned into sing along harmoniously with Betty time.

Singing wasn’t the problem.  I had sung on key since I was three.  It was the dad-blasted carrying a different part from the melody.

One must hand it to Betty, she was enormously determined and had Job’s patience.  I did learn to harmonize.

After learning to stay on my part, I began thoroughly enjoying the time spent drying dishes.  Then, she added dance steps to the singing.  Fortunately, Momma was at the barn or she’d have stopped us and told us we were going to hell.

After I learned a few dance routines with her, Betty upgraded the difficulty of singing.   She sang one song to one melody, while I sang another song to another melody.  I struggled.  I tried everything I could think of, including putting the dish-rag in my ears to block the sound of her singing.  Finally, I learned that also.

One of those songs I still remember.  I sang, “I here music and there’s no one there..,” while Betty sang, “It’s not so surprising…”

Singing and dancing had become to me what cream was to a cat.

She often told me of how she was going to Broadway, and she’d take me with her if I  learned all sorts of songs and dance routines.  We’d be a sister act on the big stage.  I shared in  her dreams with enthusiasm.

Betty finished school and moved to Birmingham as I started the fourth grade.  The joys of singing and dancing left with her, and dish washing time became just a lonely chore.

February 9, 2012 · Carolyn · No Comments
Posted in: country life, Family

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