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By Tamara November 08

Howdy folks,

I’m sittin’ back reminiscing in these wonderfully quiet days of fall with the hustle/bustle of the holidays still ahead of us. I was just up north, (Washington State) visiting my folks, our kids, and grandkids for the past ten days, and I got to see the first snows of winter in their area. It was beautiful, but I won’t miss shoveling the white stuff five long months of winter.

These were the times in my younger (much younger) days when fields were cut, fences and out-buildings mended, and wood cut and ready for those cold days when we needed a roaring fire in the old woodstove or fireplace.

Those were the days when we’d rush off the school bus, wade snow to our front door, and find the house warm and cozy, and usually smelling of something wonderful cooking for dinner.

We’d see Mama’s wooden racks set up often after the snows fell because clothes dried quickly next to the stove, and didn’t have to freeze-dry on the line. Plus, wading to the clothesline became a major task after December arrived.

I remember all the squabbling we kids did over playing Gin Rummy, and the thousand piece puzzles we had set up on Mama’s card table in the living room.

And how about those great old shows we listened to by the hour on the radio? (We didn’t have television or indoor plumbing until I was eleven. Sometimes, I wish we’d never gotten a TV. The whole structure of the family changed after that. We were like the Waltons before, and then we became like sophisticated world travelers when THE BOX was hauled in and mesmerized us forever more! But I digress…

Back to naming some of those great old radio programs: Dale Evans & Roy Rogers, The Cisco Kid, Kit Carson, The Lone Ranger, Amos & Andy, Fibber MaGee & Molly, Jack Benny, The Shadow, The Creaking Door, and oh so many more! See how many you remember, and write me back listing those I know I’ve forgotten to mention here.

Are ya getting’ ready for Thanksgiving yet? I’m pondering it. We’ll be throwin’ in with my in-laws this year, sharing in plans for food dishes we love, and deciding who will bring what. Always fun to get together with them tho’ they live just a mile down the road. My mother-in-law can cook like you wouldn’t believe. I thought I had some great old recipes but this gal makes new ones outta old ones, and we all eat ourselves sick at her table…

Just an added note: When ya bite into that turkey this year, think of this old turkey, (it’s my 63rd birthday!) Boy, the years go by fast. I look in the mirror and see my dear mother’s face quite often these days.

This month I’m going to send along a PROSE about Mama’s Wooden Racks, I wrote some years back, and also one of my favorite fall POEMS.
Hope you enjoy them both…

Granny Tam


As distant memories return, I watch the first snowfall of the season, and recall other wintry days. I envision our cozy farmhouse, and feel the warm glow from the fireplace crackling and popping at my back. Usually situated in front of these lively flames were Mama’s wooden racks—hanging heavy with freshly laundered clothes. The old racks folded accordion-style with locking stick-bars at either end. Smooth rods at various levels held the weight of wet clothes, never bending ‘neath the task. There was no order or privilege to what was hung there. Mama, in this arduous process, turned the racks each hour, removing pieces as she deemed them dry. Papa’s plaid work shirts, long and short-legged blue jeans, blouses, underwear, and other clothing of various sizes were draped across those wooden spindles like scarecrows dangling precariously in the field.

As moisture rose from the clothes in drying, I can still smell their clean odor wafting thru’ the house. Even our chests-of-drawers gave off this same scent whenever we would choose a neatly folded garment.


On cold, wintry washdays—sunshine making no appearance, the outside clothesline remained empty of sheets and apparel.

After leaping from the school bus and wading deep snow to our front door, we’d first glimpse Mama’s wooden racks sitting by the stove just beyond the kitchen. The smell of fresh bread baking, and clean clothes drying always gave my brothers and me a feeling of security and true country warmth.

Mama never complained of the hardships of farm life, or drying clothes hour after hour in this slow mundane way but rather made a rotating game of it as she went about her daily household chores.

When I now unfurl those ancient racks, I marvel at the sturdiness they still render, and wonder if life wasn’t better when work was harder but somehow more rewarding. Comparing today to those days of yesteryear, I sometimes wish we could take one giant step backward to once again enjoy the simple pleasures and memories that come to mind whenever I unfold Mama’s wooden racks.

Tamara Hillman


(This piece was published in Country Magazine some years ago. You’ll also find both of these scribbles in my book, “PURE COUNTRY.”)

Read Tamara's Poem Just Lean Back



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