Tag Archives: growing up

Growing Up On The Farm

A a child, Pa liked to play cowboys and indians.

Think about how much technology we use during the day. It’s working even before we wake up. Air conditioning, television, smart phones, computers, and running water; all these are things that the past generations lived without. These technological advances make life easier, but you don’t need them to be happy in life. We see this through the story of Paul Magnin, my grandpa’s, childhood.

Growing up near St. James, a small Missouri town, Paul (or Pa, as I may refer to him) lived on a farm outside of town with his family. They had no TV, no air conditioning, no telephone, and no indoor plumbing. They lived with what we think of today as the bare minimum, but they were happy, nonetheless. It was these aspects that influenced Pa’s childhood, and he wouldn’t have had it any other way.

On a normal school day, Pa and his siblings would wake up early in the morning, do morning farm chores, and walk one mile to their one room schoolhouse. There was one teacher for grades 1st through 8th. The school had only an outhouse. Pa recalled how they would have to hold up one finger if they had to “tinkle” and two fingers if they had to poop. Pa smiled as he recalled how he and his friends would always hold up two fingers, because the teacher wouldn’t always let them go if they held up one.  He spent one year in town school, but didn’t like it. It was from the one room schoolhouse that he had the fondest memories, because it was so unique.

The town school Pa went to for a year.

The town school Pa went to for a year.

Punishments at school were different than they are today. In schools today, teachers aren’t allowed to lay a hand on kids. When Pa was in elementary school, it was expected for children to be spanked on the hand with a ruler if they misbehaved. Pa said it was effective because the sharp pain would get kids to behave immediately. This was important to teachers like Pa’s because they were the only teacher in the school. They needed to spend more time on teaching and less time on punishing. With the development of bigger schools and smaller class sizes, teachers began to use other methods of punishment because they had more one on one time with the students.

In the mornings when they didn’t have school, Pa and his siblings would make PB and J sandwiches and high tail it for the creek. Not only was it cooler by the creek, but if they stayed in the house they would have to do chores. Kids those days were less likely to be cooped up inside since there was no air conditioning and no technology to keep them there. Instead of sitting around by themselves watching TV or playing video games, Pa and his siblings would play in the woods next to the farm and down by the creek, doing things like searching for cow patties and flinging them at each other.They would play war, cowboys and Indians, go looking for tadpoles and frogs, play on their stick horses, and chase headless chickens.

Pa and his siblings would chase headless chickens such as the one in this picture.

Pa and his siblings would chase headless chickens such as this one.

Every Saturday, Pa and his family would drive into town. While the grown ups ran errands, the kids would go to the movie theatre to see a show. Pa and his siblings could get in for a quarter each, and they could each get a Coke for a dime and popcorn for fifteen cents. Once they were in, they could spend all afternoon there. There was always a double feature, cartoons, and Movietone News (The news would be similar to the beginning of “Up,” when Carl is in the movie theaters.)

The atmosphere was different from today, especially in small towns like St. James. Everyone knew everyone, like Mayberry in the “Andy Griffith Show.” People would sit on their porches and talk to everyone who passed by. “Your whole world was right there in the town you lived in; that was your world.” Pa explained. “It was so different than the world today. It wasn’t as worldly, but it was clean.”

“Doing drugs” was stealing one of your dad’s cigarettes and smoking it behind the barn. One time, Pa recalls, his dad caught him trying a cigarette when he was five. His dad said, “So, you wanna smoke.” He then made Pa smoke a pipe until he was sick. Pa didn’t smoke again for 20 years.

Pa tried smoking as a child, only to be caught by his father.

Pa tried smoking as a child, only to be caught by his father.

Pa had a childhood much different than those of children today. He had no television, air conditioning, heating, phones, or running water. He lived without the technology common to today. Yet he had experiences that he could not have gotten anywhere else. Pa’s life was not what we today would call ideal, but he said he wouldn’t have had it any other way.


Magnin, Paul. Personal interview. 24 Nov. 2012
St. Jame’s Public School. 2011. Photograph. St. James. Waymarking. 2011. Web. 2 Dec. 2012. <http://www.waymarking.com/gallery/image.aspx?f=1&guid=2bc529b4-a94b-404f-aaa0-3eeba8e78c64>.
Headless Chicken. 1945. Photograph. JayNoel.com. Jay Noel, 2006. Web. 2 Dec. 2012. <http://www.jaynoel.com/2006_02_01_archive.html>.

Growing Up In Missouri


Linda Rasmussen grew up on a farm in Missouri. She lived in McDonald County until 1958, when her parents bought the property east of Neosho, where she still lives today. It is where the old county “poor farm” used to be, but it was just a normal farm when Linda and her family moved there. Before America had welfare, individual counties had a “poor farm” and were  saddled with the cost of providing care for their poor, their elderly, and many of those with mental illnesses. There is a cemetery in the field of what was once the “poor farm,” but there are no gravestones. Several outbuildings are still on the property.

The “poor farm” used to consist of a twenty-five-room house that was built on the property in the late 1800s. The farm closed around 1950 or 1951, and the house was later torn down. Linda’s father then built the house where she and her family lived. As a kid growing up on the property, Linda always had something to explore.

Even though Linda grew up on a farm, she wasn’t much of a farm girl. Her dad, Dewey, did most of the work. She says that when she helped she mostly got in the way and slowed down his routine. Linda’s favorite thing about living on a farm was the summer haying weather. She got to watch the teenage boys that were on hay hauling crews as they put the hay up into the barn. Besides raising hay, the family also raised cattle on the farm. It wasn’t like today’s big dairy farm operations, but her father did have automatic milkers. The cows had to be milked twice daily. The milkman came daily or every other day and took the cans of milk off for processing. One cow thought that she was a pet–her name was Pansy–and she would follow Dewey everywhere he went. Pansy would even let kids ride her. Linda didn’t really like chickens, but she had a pet chicken named Penny.
When Linda was about six or seven she would go down to the wash-house. She didn’t do much at the wash house, but she liked going down there because she got to hang out with other kids her age. One time in particular, she went down in her little brown coat and matching hat. She was playing outside with some other children when a rooster came running at her. The rooster attacked her and pecked her in the head over and over again. He knocked her little brown hat right off. Some parents came out to see what all the screaming was about, and a man kicked the rooster off of my grandmother. A women scooped her up and rushed her into the house. Linda still remembers lying in her mother’s lap, her blood dripping into the Enamelware dishpan, like it was yesterday. It was a bad day for Linda, but it was also a bad day for the rooster. For dinner that night the family had a big pot of fresh rooster and dumplings.
Linda sewed a lot of her own clothes. She learned to sew at a very early age and was very good at it. She made most of her clothes, as did many girls.  During the mid 60s, “pegged” leg jeans were the style. They are what we would call “skinny jeans.” Even though they didn’t have skinny jeans like we do today, they had to peg their jeans on the sides to make them so skinny they could barely pull them on. To make the jeans even more skinny, they would sit in a bathtub full of water to get them wet, then they would get out and let them dry on their bodies. Linda had it down to a science, and she used to be known for having the skinniest jeans in school.

Linda had two brothers. Since she was the only girl, she wasn’t expected to do as much work as the boys. Although she didn’t do as much farm work, she still learned how to work and she learned morals. She knows the sacrifices that her parents made for the family. Unlike many of the youth today, she was taught that food doesn’t magically appear on the shelves of Wal-Mart. Linda was taught that we need to be grateful for farmers.

When Linda was growing up, most kids didn’t have their own car and didn’t expect one. They drove their parents’ cars. A lot of the boys had jobs working on farms, grocery stores, and feed stores. A few girls had babysitting jobs, but most didn’t work. Linda was never allowed to work when she was younger: “I suppose that was a means of control, but mostly it was due to a high school girl named Cathy. She worked as a carhop at a hamburger joint and my dad said I wasn’t going to work at a place like that and get the reputation she had with boys.” Linda got her first job when she was older, during the summer between her Junior and Senior year. She babysat two boys for $20.00 a week.

Today is a lot different from when Linda grew up. They didn’t have cell phones. In fact, almost everyone had party line home phones. That means they had to share the telephone line with several of their neighbors. They would pick up the phone to use it and someone might already be on it. Or they’d be talking to their friend and the nosey, grumpy old neighbor down the road would either listen in on their conversation or tell them to get off. They didn’t have computers either. People heard rumors about computers as big as a house, owned by government entities, and how they would take over the world. Computers were something to fear. The first television that Linda’s family bought was black and white only. The family didn’t have colored televisions until Linda was in junior high. When she was really young and living in Pineville, they only had two stations. They got ABC and NBC, and that’s if they were lucky!

Microwave ovens were something that no one could have ever imagined. “To be able to cook a baked potato in a matter of a few minutes… impossible!” She didn’t grow up with air conditioning, either. The family got their first window air conditioner when Linda was in high school. Dishwashers were new, too. Linda was the dishwasher until she was in high school when the family got their first real dishwasher. She still had to pre-wash everything before putting it in the dishwasher. Growing up, they had metal ice trays. The kind that had a lever that they had to pull to break the ice into cubes. Linda hated those metal ice trays. “Sometimes, if your fingers were at all wet when you were trying to get the ice out, your fingers would stick to the metal and it hurt!” Ice was something that they pretty much rationed. “I’m sure there’s some other things that I didn’t have growing up that I have now, but I wouldn’t trade the era in which I grew up for anything!” declares Linda.

Linda grew up right here in Missouri on a farm in Neosho, the only girl of three kids. Even though she wasn’t much of a farm girl, she still learned good farm work ethics. The times are a lot different now than when Linda grew up. Her childhood was very interesting, and she said she wouldn’t trade it for the world. My grandmother loved growing up in Missouri in the ‘50s and the ‘60s.

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