A special post from Donna.

As far as I know Donna is my oldest and most faithful reader.  Each week her son in law Rick prints out Bluebirds for her and he is a regular in the comments section.   We have all become friends with him.   Very kindly he has written up some of Donna's life memories which are very fitting here and go so well along with my Nana posts. 

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!  

Donna, last years Birthday. 

Rick and his wife Linda.

Linda, Donna, Rick and Donna's long time neighbour. 

Thank you so much Donna.  I am just amazed how many thing you recall are so similar to my Grandparents  lives, right down to the bones for the dog!   And thank you Rick because I know this was quite a job!   

I do apologise for difficulties converting this over to the blog and hope everyone can read it ok. I had some troubles!  

Would you please feel free to leave Donna a message as Rick will print them out for her.  And please do share any of your own Nana memories because we could all learn a thing or two about friendship, helping others,  making do, making the most of things and love for God and our country. xxx


  1. Donna, what a life you have lead, many prayers for many more to come. You have shown us what a true community is and how life should be, helpful! Many blessings to you and your family.

    Your story brings back memories of my Father talking about how he would work in the fields havesting, he was only 12 when the farmer would come into the city and pick the children up in a cart, if you didn't do the work one day you weren't allowed on the cart the next day. He was paid 10 cents for a day's work and he said it was back breaking work and long hours. As a child you didn't want to embarrass your parents by not working hard and being able to come home and contribute to the finances.
    My Grandparents later owned a corner grocery store, my grandmother I think gave more food away than she sold. She helped everyone in need, after her passing they found her books, so many never paid her back for her gracious gifts, she never pushed anyone to pay their bill. She saw it as helping to feed the children.

    Life is so different now, we lack the community. We need to get it back.
    Prayers for all the Bluebirds,

  2. What a treasure Donna is! I enjoyed reading her thoughts. I love hearing about how they got through the Depression and things they ate.

    My grandmaw was born in 1895 and had 6 kids. My grandfather died when dad was a teen so dad was running a wood mill at age 13. He has one birdie finger as short as the others where it got sawed almost off and sewn back on. All the boys worked and gave grandmaw money to live. They had a garden and chickens and cows. I don't know if they raised a hog or harvested wild hog. My uncle did say they paid 50 cents an acre for 42 acres from his uncle. My dad's great aunt was widowed so she would rotate to family. While there she would make quilts. I have a beautiful Lone Star quilt she made my dad. I have the dough bowl my uncle bought grandmaw from the company store when when was working away. Dad said they always had food, but he had hand me down clothes and sometime no shoes when he outgrew shoes. He picked cotton, ran a sawmill, helped his brother who was a butcher, then later worked in a furniture store and went on to own to La-Z-Boy stores.

    My mom lived in a log home her dad built on the street across from her grandparents. Her mom married at age 14 to a 29 year old. She was born in 1935. Mama learned to cook and sew from her grandma across the street. Her dad died when she was a teen. She and my aunt, which was really a cousin her age that had come to live with them, were left at age 17 as my grandmother married again and moved away. Mama worked as secretary and pianist at the church and my aunt did yard work at the church and they got by. Mama always said they made up fun, going to the creek and picnics in the graveyard. She went to William Carey College and Elvis dated one of the girls in her dorm when he was playing honky tonks, as she called it. So she met him a few times.

    I hope we never experience the severe hardships of the Depression again. I just don't think we can make it without land and animals and we have neither.
    Holly in Alabama

  3. Oh Donna you so remind me of my grandmother who bought me up and lived through the Great Depression years here in Australia. She was born in 1905 and could make something from nothing as I would say. Her own yoghurt, ginger beer, leather handbags and so much more. She owned a dance studio in Brisbane Queensland Australia with her mother during the war years and had 4 children.

    What really stuck in my mind about your memories was community and pulling together in hard times. My husband and I live in a small rural village on acreage in SW Queensland Australia and we are in drought. Inflation is rampant at the moment on our grocery prices and fuel costs. Our local Facebook country town page has posts about people needing things picked up from town which is around 120km round trip and many do that to save people fuel. We take meals around to those who are ill and look after the senior members of our community. Many who grow excess fruit and vegetables take them to the post office or local Men's Shed to distribute free to those who need it. We pull together with knowledge to repair machinery between each others homes if we are unsure how to do it. There is a lot of people on aged pensions here so money is tight for many.

    I agree "your word is your bond" and we still do that here between our neighbours and swap produce, spare parts and more. It is amazing what is in everyone's sheds here to repair something of either ours or others which we freely share. We have amazing neighbours and if one person's ride on lawn mower breaks down we finish mowing their lawns and they do the same for us.

    Lovely to hear about your wonderful life.

    Lorna (South West Queensland) Australia.

  4. Dear Donna, I read your story without breathing! It is amazing how many of these are the same as my family*s and mine are. Like sharing whatever we had and could with our neighbours - during communism times there was a period when it was very difficult to live, to find food, in the *80s everything was rationed and we used to exchange coupons for whatever the other needed the most. We gave away a lot of gas, milk and sugar coupons because we did not have a car, I am lactose intolerant and my mother did not have time to bake cakes but other people needed those for small children or sick people. So we got meat, lard, vegetables or bread instead.
    All women and girls in my family were sewing, knitting, crocheting and got paid or exchanged that for socks, bedding, Christmas gifts, wood for winter or food. For wood you had to work harder so it was not unusual to go and work in the garden or help cleaning the house and got paid in wood.
    Also in December, the neighbours who had families with farms and they were slaughtering pigs, they found an easy and friendly way to give to others without feeling offensed. We were the ones who were gifted with fresh meat and after not seeing real good food for weeks you can imagine the joy or gratitude we did feel. Of course we helped them back whenever it was the case.

    Every aftenoon we had electricity cut off so we managed to do homework by candle light and we played a lot outside. Our parents were not afraid to let us out because everybody knew everybody and a word was a word. My mother*s word meant something for all her coleagues and people around. I try to be like her!

    I am down in the memory bucket but your story turned up a lot of memories here. Thank you ! Also, you are Beautiful. Many of my prayers and good wishes for you.

    Thank you Rick and Annabell. Much love from Laura_s_world from Romania

  5. Thank you, Donna, for sharing your memories. I grew up in SW Michigan. All of my grandparents farmed, but my parents did not. My dad's mother passed away before I arrived, so I only knew his father -- and they lived more than an hour away, so I rarely saw him or any of my dad's family. My mom's family lived about 15 miles away and I learned so much from them while growing up. They lived across the street from my great grandparents (they grew acres and acres of peaches) and after my great grandma passed, great grandpa moved in with my grandparents. By the time I was in school, my grandparents only farmed a small plot, enough for their own use and to take care of their extended family. There were apple and pear trees out front and cherry trees out back, along with a grape vineyard and plot of squash and pumpkins. Closer in, we had rows of tomatoes, peppers, peas, a variety of beans, corn, and all sorts of herbs. Various farming and herbal magazines were always sitting around, and I think grandma was the first homeopathic herbalist I knew. She had a rememdy for alomst anything! If someone were in need and stopped to ask my grandpa about work, there was always a jar or two available, and gram would include a loaf of something from the oven. Her knitting provided scarves, gloves, hats, and slippers for us every year, and I'm also sure they passed them out along with the jars and loaves. When summer came, we'd often go over and help weed in the garden, while learning about the plants and insects. Come harvest time, we kids were allowed to help, given some minute job, like sorting the big tomatoes from the smaller ones, helping with slip-skinning tomatoes and peaches, or "playing" with the cherry pitters -- who can fill up the pop bottle first. By the time I was 5 or so, I was allowed to stand on a chair and pull the concord grapes from the stems, dropping them in the quart jars until filled up about 1/4 of the way (masking tape to the fill line, moved from jar to jar as I finished one), and I was taught how to measure sugar and add it. The only thing I wasn't allowed to do was pour the boiling water or touch the hot jars. But I watched intently and still follow grandma's instructions. That grape juice was better than any off the shelf, and I'm back to making a batch every year or two, just the way gram taught me. Once I got into my teens, all that went by the wayside. And I now wish I'd paid closer attention, especially to her pressure canning, something I'm still not comfortable with. I remember what I can from her, and research and teach myself grandma's ways as often as possible. And I try to live with their virtues and morals. Sharing that knowledge with my family and friends is critical, as once they're lost, they're gone. It's something we all need to do more of. Bless you, Donna, for all you've shared and for sparking those memories in me.

  6. Thank you Rick for writing up and sharing your dear Mother's memories.

    Donna, You have brought back so many wonderful memories even from my day and I am 30 years younger than you. One of my Great-grandmothers made pressed turkey from the turkey carcass after Thanksgiving every year. The family would avoid going to visit her until they felt sure it was all eaten because they all though it was just awful! Real budget saving food was gravy bread at our house. Even a few spoonfuls of gravy would be saved to be spooned over bread for lunch the next day. We truly loved gravy bread but it has never tasted so good to me as an adult. A few spoonfuls of leftover mashed potatoes were fried together with torn stale bread and a few eggs al mixed up and it was a delicious lunch. I still make that just for me.

    It still surprises me that parents have to trot the children around to all sorts of activities to keep them occupied these days and it is so expensive! We and our children made our own fun just like you did. Oh the wonderful memories of sled riding in the winter when I was a child in Iowa. On winter evenings my Mom would make fudge and we passed around the pan to hand beat it until the moment when it had to come out onto the buttered plate right now! We went on picnics on Sundays after church, not to a restaurant! Dad would take us to the state park after dark and drive through and we would look for the reflection of animals eyes in the headlights. This was great and scary fun. On Sunday afternoons sometimes we would go for a 5 cent ice cream cone a Dairy Queen. Mom always smuggled a bag of pretzels out of the house to have with our ice cream. We camped for a week at a time for family vacation in the summer. My Dad would get a big fire going until he had a bed of coals and then he would put the big cast iron skillet on those coals and fry chicken. There was no fried chicken like that fried chicken! Those camping trips are memories we will never forget. When we did travel we often stopped at roadside produce stands and bought whatever was in season to go with our roadside table lunches. No fast food could be better than a tomato sandwich made with local tomatoes bought a few miles back. We bough pecans in Georgia and Dad could put two in his hand and crack them and hand them back to us to eat. We were rarely sick because we ate all those healthy foods from the garden and not expensive processed foods.

    How wonderful it would be if neighbors would help each other and share the work like in the old days. We don't believe in not knowing our neighbors even though it is though to be unsafe to go knock on a stranger's door and introduce yourself now. We still know if there is illness or a death in the family and take a meal or drop off home baked cookies just because we want to share. We hire our neighbor kids to help us with yard chores and the parents are glad to have the opportunity for their children to learn to work for others. (These are unusual parents these days!) We raised our five children to know that they were responsible for their own lives and living. They were not to expect others to support them and give them handouts. It is worrisome as to how this world will be in twenty years when all the kids who never had to work and are expecting someone else to support them are in charge.

    Thanks for reading my memories, too. Have a wonderful day!

  7. Oh Annabel,
    What a tribute you’ve made to Donna! Just beautiful! Thanks aren’t even close to how I feel.
    The pictures and print are so clear and perfect! I have to mention that the cake in the picture was made by her dear friend Linda in the yellow top!
    I’m just overwhelmed at the emotion I’m feeling seeing this in print! Donna had pages of recollections and I’m sorry I couldn’t put them all in. It was hard to assemble them into a theme but from the responses so far, I’m very satisfied that this “remembrance” met its goal!
    Again, so many thanks to Annabel. Much Love to you and all the Bluebirds everywhere. XXXOOO

  8. Sorry, Rick from Florida
    I forgot to identify myself and I’ll report Donna’s comments as soon as I get this to her.

  9. Donna, What a treasure it was to have you share your memories and thoughts - so much is reminiscent of my family growing up. Sending love and hugs to you !

  10. Dear Donna,
    Thank you for sharing your memories with us. And thanks to Rick and Linda for their help. I think what blessed me the most was the unity that your community practiced. I have read many accounts of the Depression and unity was always key for everyone 's survival and well-being.
    I wish I had tales of loved-ones thriving during this time. But many were just too young to remember. And some chose to focus on the present. But I always drew inspiration from the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

    When the Y2K scare happened, my husband and I moved to bare land and built our own little farm. God preserved us from the Recession of 2008. And our 8 children learned to work hard. And live well!
    We now hope to return to a simpler life as my husband is recovered from serious health issues.
    Blessings to all the Bluebirds,
    Leslie in Ohio

  11. Thank you for writing and posting this Rick and Donna. It was wonderful to read and took my thoughts back to growing up with my Victorian grandmothers. I honestly miss what we had back then. The world is such a mess today.
    Many blessings to each of you,

  12. This was such a delight to read! My grandmother is 91 years old and has told me a little bit about what life was like for her as a teen and young mother. They had no money, and had to make every penny stretch with 6 kids. My dad used to tell me that they would eat the ends of the meat from the butcher because it was cheaper. They had a garden and raised some livestock for meat. He remembered the day when they killed "his" chicken for dinner....he refused to eat that night. One of my favorite things he told me was that they always had something for dessert, no matter how small. It might just be a cup of jello or something, but even when times were tight they had a small sweet treat after supper. He is gone now so I really cherish those memories he shared.
    My mother is from Japan so I never got to hear what life was like for her parents. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, and my mom was trying to make ends meet as a single parent but it was hard for her in a foreign country. I think she looks back on those years of struggle as such a hardship. I don't remember it like that. While I knew we didn't have much money, no one else really did either so it seemed normal to me. Only later did I realize how hard it was for her to get us through!
    Wishing you so much happiness, Donna. Thanks again for sharing your memories with us.
    Dianna in TN

  13. Donna - I loved your post. I grew up in Michigan until I was thirteen. I am not certain where Montgomery is but I will look it up.
    My grandparents, born in the 1890’s, lived on a large lot in a house they built themselves during the Depression. With the help of many relatives! My grandmother had a big garden and walnut trees. She canned everything; her bread and butter pickles being a specialty.

    My mother told me that during the Depression a neighbor came running over to Grandma’s house in a panic. She was having unexpected guests for dinner and had no food in the house. My grandmother gave her a sausage and the woman was so grateful! One time Grandma found a dime on the street. She said, “Oh good - now I can buy a loaf of bread!”
    There were six kids in their family and little money. My mother’s aunts in Minnesota, who were better off, sent my mother their used, discarded dresses. So she would take apart the seams and recut them to fit. My mother told me she just hated having to do that! It is funny because my mother made me all my clothes when I was young. I hated it because I wanted ‘bought’ clothes like everyone else (although I never told her this). Now when I look back at photos where I’m wearing her creations - I am amazed because they look like couture clothes! She was so talented!
    Things did feel more community centered which I really miss!

  14. Donna Thank you so much for sharing your memories with us. What a treasure for us and for your family!
    I remember my grandparents had a rural property with a large water tank. It provided water for the home, housed fish for catching and eating, and provided an opportunity for a swim.
    They had gardens with everything you could grow plus chickens and goats.
    A nightclub built up next door so they made a deal for a free pitcher of beer daily for the hassle. My grandpa collected cash, coin and bottles from the parking lot to supplement their income.
    My grandma helped me nurse a baby bird to health and set her free in that yard.
    Patti in California

  15. Thank you Miss Donna for sharing all this wonderful information with us. I have been busy looking after my Grandsons after my daughter injured her back, so it has taken me a little while to respond.
    I grew up where your word was your bond. A handshake deal was better than any signature on a contract. I cant pinpoint when this changed. I do know a lot of people who see a 'white' lie, or omitting information, as more than acceptable practice. Not for me. I have made sure that both my now adult children, live an honest life. My hope is that they will then pass this down to their children.
    I love hearing from Bluebirds all around this wonderful world of ours.

  16. Dear Donna,
    Thankyou for sharing your memories and wisdom. It gave me encouragement to keep on trying as you say to shield my little family from the world outside. I enjoyed reading your post very much. I miss my strong, level headed Grandmother. With love and thanks to yourself, Rick and Linda, Clare (Australia).

  17. Dear Donna,
    Thank you so much for writing to us and sharing your memories. Sadly, I grew up without grandparents so I have nothing to share about what I could have learned from them. I have always been interested in how things were done in the past and have always loved growing food, cooking and sewing. Many thanks again, Jennie, Queanbeyan, New South Wales.

  18. Dear Donna,

    It was lovely to read about your experiences and the information is so helpful. Much of this reminds me of my grandparents, who all lived through the Depression. My grandmother could make anything into a tasty meal and was a wonderful knitter and crocheter; she also used to take me on nature walks and show me how to identify plants, and teach me about baking - and the importance of doing something nice for yourself, too. She was a big believer in the mood-lifting ability of a little lipstick or a home manicure! My grandfather could fix or build anything and had a big garden bench with grow lights in their basement so he could start their garden seeds off early. I loved to sit down there with him and help him plant the seeds - and today I think of him when I am planting my own garden seeds and when my plants blossom and fruit. They lived in town and still had a good garden, with a huge garden in the country, too. I have a big freezer because they had a big freezer and I saw how it helped a lot to have some food put away.

    Both also wrote letters for meaningful occasions - those letters held the values you mention - one from my grandfather for my 16th birthday particularly stands out as it contains lots of good advice, particularly to work hard and be kind. I am not always successful, but I try to follow their advice and example. They were full of kindness and their home was full of love - I miss them very much.

    I hope you have a lovely day.

  19. Dear Donna,
    Thank you so much for the priceless gift you have given to us in sharing your life and your memories. Thank you Rick and Linda for making it possible. It was a treasure for my husband and myself to read it this morning. We grew up during a Whtime when business was done with a handshake. Your word was your bond. Our family was close. Sunday dinner with everyone was sacred an it was something you didn't miss. We all lived within close proximity to one another so dinners would rotate. It was always the highlight of the week. Meals were simple and delicious.
    Whoever was hosting that week made the main dish and everyone else brought sides or dessert. It all worked out. Both Nana's were snout to tail cooks. They never wasted a thing. It's a rarity today to find some of those items in a grocery store.
    Life was so much different than it is today. We cherish the past and keep the old ways as best we can. Cookie

  20. Beautiful words of timeless wisdom, thanks Donna and Annabell.
    I love the conversation in all of the comments. This post and your ‘Save like Nanna’ series has brought up so many memories for us all.
    In this modern world I feel like rebelling and living as old fashioned as possible.

  21. Thanks Donna. What a blessing your post is! And hi from nsw Australia. Missy

  22. Thank you, Donna, for sharing from your beautiful life. I loved reading every bit of it and learned from you. The hard times had to be so difficult, but you wrote about so many things done good and right and faithfully. I’m inspired to make it so in my home and neighborhood. Thank you!

  23. Dear Donna, it was such a joy to read your post. Thank you for making the time to do it, your wisdom, knowledge and experience is invaluable. Hearing your words about the depression and hard times showed me that you do not look back on it as a terrible thing. That shows me that people were caring to one another and they made the best of things. I do wonder when times get harder will people have the same attitude? I loved hearing about people caring for others. Thank you for being so generous with your time and knowledge. Lots of love, Lily

  24. Donna,
    I live on the opposite side of the world to you in New Zealand. Your description of your life growing up echoes that of my grandparents and parents life.
    Thank you so much for sharing, I really enjoyed your recollections and advice.



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