Andrietta Sims

A Childhood Memory

Spring 1997

My curriculum focuses on houses around the world. In our study we are also looking at the people who live in these communities. I have attempted to make the curriculum more real by sharing stories with them about the different types of homes and places that I have been to, especially as a child. I also share with them the various games and songs that I learned while visiting these places. Other children and adults also share their stories about the homes they lived in or visited as well at the things they did as children.

In our storytelling sessions/discussions (I use the term discussions since invariably the stories are interrupted by the children who relate to what I'm telling them or have a question.) I hope that the children will begin to notice or even discover the similarities in children's lives both cross-culturally and cross-generationally.

The group that I work with are 2nd and 3rd graders. I would begin a discussion by telling the children about my visits to grandfather's house in South Carolina when I was a child.

Every summer, my mother would pack up me and my sister to go visit my Grandfather in Summerton, North Carolina. I liked going to my granddaddy's house cause it was like going back in time. It was like going on an adventure. He had no bathroom. We had to use the outhouse in the backyard. The outhouse was a small wooden shack and inside there was a wooden bench with two holes to sit on. It smelled something awful. At night we had to use a bedpan cause it was way too dark to go outside. The outhouse was in front of a field and anything that lived in that field could get into that shack. There wasn't any running water either. We had to pump the water. Right on the back porch was a pump. You had to pump the water out. It wasn't that easy either. I can still remember the sound of that pump. We did have electricity though. That was something. You see, everybody that lived on that road didn't have electricity. My Grandfather, and my Great Grandmother, who lived in the Big House had electricity. And, every time it rained and there was thunder and lightning we had to turn off everything. I hated that because I wanted to watch TV. But instead, I would sit by the window, inventing some story in my head about being stuck out in that storm with no place to go.

My granddaddy was a farmer. He grew all kinds of food like corn, peanuts, collard greens, peas, watermelon and anything else you could think of. He was also a hunter. He kept over 100 hunting dogs across the road in a large dog pen. He had bird dogs and hunting dogs. Sometimes I'd go sit in the pen to play with them. They barked like crazy, but I wasn't scared of them. I loved them. No one else could come in that pen like that but my granddaddy. My grandfather was always either out in the fields or out hunting. Of course, I couldn't go hunting, cause I was too young, and I didn't go into the fields cause there were snakes out there.

I spent most of my days playing in the road, making up games using rocks and sticks. I would play these games for hours. It was hot out there but I would still stay out there and play. Some days I would go visiting other people's homes down the road. There were three other houses along that road. Just about everybody was related to me in some way. They were cousin this and cousin that. Like I said, my grandfather's house was the only one with electricity. So whenever I went into someone else's house it seemed awfully dark, even with the sun beaming in. They used oil lamps and candles for light when it got dark.

This story tells something about life in the rural south and something about some of the homes that people lived in. It also explains something of how what was available to me shaped what I did, how I played, etc. I can use this same story to talk about and introduce some of the games that I played. Imbedded in these stories are traditions as well as beliefs on what children could and couldn't do and what was considered appropriate behavior. Imbedded in these stories are my family and my relationships with them. These stories are intended to be a window into my experiences and another means by which to create meaningful curriculum for my students.