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Jun 11, 2012
Two Little City Girls Have a Big Country Adventure
They were just 7 and 11 years old. But back in 1984, these sisters, aka 'Seven Eleven,' experienced a singular summer vacation romping 'round grandma's farm.
It was the summer of 1984 when two little girls who were affectionately called "Seven Eleven" kissed their mother goodbye and jumped into their daddy's pale yellow Mercedes Benz. The girls didn't know at the time, but they were headed for an adventure of a lifetime. Two city girls were anxious to visit their grandmother in Cameron, N.C. – where the air is sweet, the sky is clear, the stars are bright and the food is fresh.
To girls who were only 7 and 11 years old, the drive to grandma's seemed to take years. Pennsylvania is where they drove through mountains – and also when Eleven found out that she is claustrophobic. Silly girl thought that the walls were closing in on us. And Seven thought the McDonald's in Pennsylvania was the coolest Mickey D's ever. It sat atop the grandest mountain that she had ever seen in her life, and she could go outside and look below – but she didn't stare too long because she chickened out, something that she would never tell anyone as long as she lived.
The moment that they had been waiting for was finally upon them: Daddy drove down the never-ending driveway, and the girls were excited and in awe of how big Grandma's house was (not to mention all the open space outdoors). A whole city block of houses could be built on Grandma's land! There were beautiful peach and pecan trees lining the driveway – now that was foreign to a couple of city slickers.
Now, earlier I mentioned that everything is fresh in North Carolina, and this is where Ma Mattie comes in. She was Grandma's mama. Ma Mattie was in her 90s and was just as spry as the chickens she kept. Ma Mattie was the sweetest and most gentle woman that Seven and Eleven had known. Ma Mattie's land made Grandma's land look like a shack. Her farm stretched from North Carolina to Asia – at least that is how Seven and Eleven saw it. There was a chicken coop, cows, pigs, corn stalks and an old abandoned schoolhouse. Yes, a schoolhouse where daddy used to go to school growing up. It looked just like the one on Little House on the Prairie. There was also an old outhouse that someone had painted the cartoon Smurfs on, a well that was still in use, and a swing set without swings. Daddy had informed the girls that the swing set was where they used to slaughter the pigs when he was a boy. Dead bloody pigs hanging from an old swing set is a visual that the girls could have done without, but it didn't stop them from eating the swine at breakfast, lunch or dinner.
City girls are used to homogenized cows' milk from the market – not cows' milk from the farm – so, to them, fresh milk tasted terrible. That farm milk messed Apple Jacks up for Seven for the rest of her life! Eleven tried making it better by mixing the jug of milk with water then sneaking it back into the refrigerator, but it didn't help at all. Seven was so confused she didn't know if it was the milk or the cereal that left such a horrible taste in her mouth. Whatever it was, she refuses to eat a bowl of Apple Jacks 28 long years later. Eleven finally got the courage to beg Grandma to go to the store to buy homogenized milk because they hated fresh milk.
The candy sticks that Ma Mattie made were even fresh. The girls had no idea how Ma Mattie made her very own candy, but they loved it like they had gone to the store to get it. It was in the form of a stick and there was more than one flavor; there was strawberry, root beer, grape and lemon – and all of them had white stripes going through them like Christmas candy canes.
There was no such thing as sleeping in over Ma Mattie's, because when the king of the farm crowed, it was time to rise. The girls didn't mind, though, because that meant another day running around the farm; that is, after morning prayer and reciting Bible verses that Ma Mattie had them memorize the day before. When the business at hand was complete, the girls ran around the farm. The first thing that had to be done was to get the eggs from the chicken coop. The girls were amazed at the different color eggs, because they were only accustomed to white eggs. Seven and Eleven had lots of fun collecting the eggs – until one day, Eleven told Seven that there might be snakes in the chicken coop. Seven wanted to run out of there with her hands up screaming like the chickens had attacked her, but she knew if she didn't get those eggs that she would be in steaming hot water with Ma Mattie. So she moved like Flash Gordon and completed the task.
Next, Uncle Jimmy rode up on his tractor and told the girls to hop on. Seven and Eleven thought the tractor rides were the coolest and most exciting thing to do on the farm! The next stop was to feed the cows. This is the part of the farm where you had to be very careful – boots were more suitable than sandals. The cows had large purplish black tongues; Seven and Eleven never did get over how disgusting they looked. When they were feeding a cow whole corn, the girls had to be sure to let go as soon as the cow took it in its mouth – because those cows looked like they would eat an arm whole. The girls did not go into the pigsty, but they stood on the outside and watched. Eleven said to Seven once, "Look – pigs are so nasty, they will eat anything." And she spit in the sty and, sure enough, they ran to lick it up! So Seven says, "Ugh, that's nasty!" – then she spit in there, too, just to see if they would do it again. That is when Seven decided that she didn't really want to eat swine anymore, because of what else were they eating. Seven still ate it, though, because when someone cooks, you eat what was prepared or you don't eat at all.
On to the maze of corn! When Seven and Eleven think about how they used to run through the cornfield, they are amazed that they never got lost. The stalks were as tall as them and, in some cases, taller, and it stretched for miles and miles – farther than the girls could see.
When Seven and Eleven thought the trip couldn't get any better, dad and the girls drove to Washington, D.C. to visit their older cousin, Sandra. At that very moment, Eleven fell in love with D.C. because everything was bright and glittering. The White House, the Lincoln Memorial and The Capitol were all lit up. Eleven said, "I'm going to live here one day and be in power." Eleven never moved to Washington, D.C., but she still loves it – and everything that she does, she does with power.
Through the years, the girls and their family went on plenty of vacations. But none ever compared to the summer of 1984.
This is the story of myself (Seven) and my older sister (Eleven).