The Farm Chronicles: Yeah, uh huh

Mom and her younger sister Doris were two peas in a pod. They were inseparable. While their mother and father, older sister and younger brother moved from Ohio to Arizona, Mom and Aunt Dory married locally and stayed locally on their respective farms, less than two miles apart. All their lives. Mom was the matriarch of our family. She kept the household, handled the books for Dad’s businesses, and raised me and my brothers to the very best of her ability. Mom never drank or smoked. Aunt Dory was a bit more adventurous, working at the Ravenna Army Ammunitions Plant during World War II, a homemaker, a farm wife, and for much of her life a chain smoker, card player and she knew the taste of alcohol.

Two very different women, but both very classy. Mom was a church goer and very involved in both church and school. Aunt Dory rarely attended church until much later in life, but she had a strong relationship with the Lord. She had friends outside the small community where we lived. Both were immaculate house keepers. Rarely was anything out of place. They were like the June Cleavers of Paris Township. I remember how they would wear dresses while doing housework. Often they would talk about how grain sacks at the feed mill were used to sow dresses and that everyone knew when the next group of new sacks were due. They would send their husbands to the feed mill to get first dibs on the new arrivals.

Very similar were all the giveaways in soap boxes. Glassware was often packed in soap boxes as incentive to buy. We still have some of those sets of glasses with maple leaves printed on them that were collected over months of buying certain kinds of soap. Mom and Aunt Dory loved to shop together and that was pretty much a weekly thing, even if they didn’t buy anything. Usually, my cousin Steve and me would end up with the same shirt, toy or some such thing—another story, another day. But one thing Mom and Aunt Dory did daily was talk on the phone. Back then we had party lines, but they didn’t care. They would talk for seemingly hours. I know it wasn’t that long, but it seemed like it. And from Steve’s and my perspective, it was the same conversation every day…”Yeah, uh huh.” Over and over again. That’s what we heard.

We got to teasing our mothers about the conversation because on both ends of the phone, we just heard “Yeah, uh huh.” The moms denied it and it became a thing. Until one Christmas, Mom and Dad got me a General Electric portable reel to reel tape recorder. So I recorded Mom talking to Aunt Dory. And I secretly loaned the recorder to Cousin Steve for him to sneak a recording of Aunt Dory talking to Mom. And sure enough, on both sides of the conversations were the familiar “Yeah uh huh.” We played the recording at one of our family get togethers at Easter. Everybody got a good laugh because both were just saying it over and over again. Now Jesus said in Matthew 5:37 to, “let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” Mom and Aunt Dory practiced this faithfully every time they were on the phone together. Yeah, uh huh.

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Bill Wilson