It was a splendid pre-fall day when my sister Jeannie and I journeyed to Ravenswood to meet our other two sisters who live in Jackson County. It was a spur of the moment plan to get together for a sibling picnic, and the trip up I-77 was pleasant.
There was a definite yellowish haze on the trees, as the leaves were losing their summer greenness and beginning to fade. Here and there a few trees had turned a light red, and it was evident that fall was fast approaching. There was an anticipatory feeling in the air, which matched the expectant feeling in our hearts at the idea of being together again.
My sisters are my dearest friends. We have always been close, and distance has not diminished the love we have for one another. Our destination was the River Front Park, which is situated between Ravenswood and the Ohio River. We spread our picnic on one of the tables, and watched the river flow onward.
Tall trees overshadowed the park area, and a cool breeze rippled across the river and blew through the park. It was altogether a perfect, peaceful day. I looked at my sisters and memories began floating through my mind. I was the oldest sister; actually the oldest child in our family of seven children. Mary Ellen is five years younger than I am, and I am 10 years older than Jeannie. I was almost 12 when Susie was born, who was the last child.
I remember my Aunt Lucille remarking with a grin, "Gay [our father] let all the kids run footloose and fancy free until Susie came along. He knew she would be the last one so he fenced in the yard!" We adored our little bald-headed baby sister.
Mom had all seven of us in 12 years, so she had to have all the help she could get. Susie was Mary Ellen's special baby, and Jeannie was mine. It was our job to get them ready for bed and tuck them in, which was easy since we had two iron bedsteads in one bedroom and we slept with our babies.
Jeannie was plagued with eczema, and I remember rubbing eczema salve in the bends of her elbows and behind her knees. Then I dressed her in Dr. Denton's with the feet attached, while Mary Ellen dressed Susie. This was the best part of our day, when we took our babies out on the front porch and swung them in the old porch swing.
There were woodbine and heavenly blue morning glories twined up to the top of the porch, which made shade and seclusion from the world. With our babies cuddled on our laps, we sung them to sleep. Sometimes Grandpa would sit on a rough wooden kitchen chair tilted back against the wall. He smoked a pipe, and the fragrant scent of the tobacco drifted through the air. Whether he enjoyed our singing or not I don't know, but he did say he wanted "Precious Memories" sung at his funeral.