We were instructed to sit at one of the tables set up in the room, which had each of us across from another woman. Then, a deck of index cards was placed, face-down, between us partners. At the sound of the timer, we picked up the top card, read the questions and took turns answering, so that we could learn some interesting facts about our lives. One card was all about music: Do we play an instrument? What kind of music do you like to listen to? What is a favorite song? Etc. One card was about where we'd lived, traveled and where we'd like to go. Another topic was about school: Did we like it? Would we go back to finish a degree? What was our best/worst subject? After just a minute, the timer would ding again, so that each team only answered the questions on one card. At the "ding" one side of the table would move right to the next chair, with a new partner, for the next card and question.
Here's one I read that I decided to share in this post. "What was your first job?" The first job, for which I got money, was babysitting for various neighbors. I'd go and put their kids to bed, and then do some homework or watch T.V. while they were out on the town, often dancing at one of the bars that had a band, and when they'd get home at 11:00 or closer to midnight, I'd collect my 50 cents and get driven home. But...my very first job--meaning responsibility--that I remember was watching my little brother.
Actually, I had a partner in this endeavor--my sister, Patricia, who was fifteen months younger. Our brother would have been about six or seven months old. He didn't crawl yet, but he could sit up. So he was tucked into the red wagon, with a blanket around him for extra support. He was probably wearing little overalls with suspenders. He was a rather big baby. I think he weighed nearly 11 pounds when he was born. So we weren't expected --- perhaps forbidden-- to try to pick him up and carry him. After all, we--the "babysitters"-- were only four and five years old ourselves! So, brother sat in the wagon and we were to watch him and keep him entertained. The wagon was parked near the fence that was about 30 feet from the open barn door. Between us and that door stood about a dozen cows, lazily flipping a fly now and then with their tails, chewing their cuds, as they waited their turn inside the red barn. That's where our mother was. She and our two older sisters, nine and ten years old, were milking the twelve cows that were standing in the stalls, munching their tasty rolled barley ration. Our dad was up in the fields either harrowing, or drilling, or --most likely on a beautiful June evening like that--irrigating the alfalfa, armed with a shovel and canvas dams, dressed in his hip-high waders and his straw hat.
Our mother milked the cows every evening in the summer, so that my dad could do all the multitude of jobs that really never ended. Our big sisters were almost old enough to handle the whole chore on their own, and I know that by the next summer, with my mom queasy with another baby on the way, they took over from her. Mother had grown up milking her father's cows, so she was an experienced hand at this farming business. It really takes everyone in the family to make it a success. Also, she wasn't exactly a sissy. She spent plenty of time in a tractor seat, herself, from harrowing to running the buck rake before my dad owned a baler. In the fall, she would drive the grain truck, taking loads from the combine in the field down to either the feed store or to one of the granaries by the barn to be stored for winter use.
So, when it was milking time, everyone was expected to step up and do their job. My job, as the bigger sister, was to supervise my little sister and my little brother. I'm pretty confident that we needed watched almost as much as he did! But, I remember floating lilac leaves on the little stream of irrigation water that floated across the barnyard to the pasture. I remember having the kitties frolicking near us, batting at the little bugs that would fly up from the grass along the fence line. If there were lambs in the pasture, they would crowd near the wire, hoping we had their bottles of milk. It was warm and wildflowers were blooming. I don't think the milking took more than an hour. I don't even know if the herd was up to two dozen cows by then--probably. We had old-fashioned milkers that got carried from cow to cow. A few cows were fussy, and had to milked by hand into a bucket, but a nine or ten year old girl could do that. We all had our chores and we all did them and afterwards, went inside for supper and bed. When you are farm girls, you learn early how to just get to work and get it done. It was excellent training for my grown-up life.