Sunday, October 23, 2011

Uncle Oliver

I grew up during the 30's on a farm in South Dakota. Evidently my Mother dropped me off at her relatives when I was a tiny baby and returned many years later. In lieu of feeling abandoned, I was grateful for a wholesome upbringing, surrounded by caring, non-judgemental people.

As the Great Depression slumbered in the cities, all the siblings and their spouses (with the exception of my Mother) worked 80 acres of black fertile soil to feed them and others during this time of starvation.

Uncle Oliver was married to Aunt Dutch, my Mother's youngest sister. At my earliest recollection, they were still courting and I remember them holding hands and kissing when they were alone. After their wedding, Oliver moved his horses from his parents farm, to my Grandparents and with that came a pony for me to ride.

Aunt Dutch and I would get in the Ford coupe with the rumble seat and head over to Oliver's parents farm for honey. His Mom kept bees, who she declared, maintained perfect health. She'd catch 3 or4 bees and put them in her stocking. They'd buzz around and eventually sting her. She'd say this bee venom was like a shot of health. I never doubted it because she was still keeping her bees at 108.

Uncle Oliver and I had many conversations from the spiritual to the sublime as I was growing up. What a treasure to have someone like Oliver as a teacher.
As times got better, they moved to their own farm but never had kids of their own. The picture above is from their farm that I inherited. I no longer have it, but memories serve me well. Whenever I eat honey, the bees in the stocking tape rolls in my mind. :)


  1. Great story, thanks for the visit!....smiles.

  2. Bees in stockings! Well I never!! Wow!! What a... erm... buzz! Yay!

    Your Aunt Dutch (she is so her name - strong and mighty!) and your Uncle Oliver sound like fabulously wonderful quirky folk! Thanks for sharing.

    Take care

  3. I've heard about people using bee venom to stay healthy. Unfortunately, I'm allergic...& chicken!

  4. I've never heard of bees in a stocking and stings to keep you healthy, but you can't argue with 108! Beautiful picture of the farm road. I love country roads for some reason.

  5. Lovely photo and memories...I have heard of bee venom being good for you.

  6. Wow. For some reason, I got big goosebumps reading this. You say so much in a few well-chosen lines. I could learn from this. :) Love the photo, those old farmhouse driveways....

    I didn't know your story, that you weren't raised by your mother. It seems to have created a sense of resiliency in you that has served you well. Dutch. What a great name for an aunt. I must know someone in my past with it, as it rings a bell.... therefore the goosebumps?

    Enjoyed this post very much.

  7. What a great story Manzy. People pay good money to get their arthritis stung by Honey Bees. I don't know if I would want to try it, but I guess if I hurt bad enough, I'd try anything.

  8. a wonderful upbringing, it sounds like. i know bee sting therapy is used to treat MS and probably other ailments, so i believe your aunt was ahead of her time. :)

  9. What a picture! Ok...I'm gonna do a search on bees, honey, etc. I've heard so many wonderful things, it's about time I really look into it. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Bees in yer stockings... that's brave stuff.

    Loved this story.

  11. Emom : Thank you for the visit and the comment.

    Kitty : You know what they say, "better the bees in the stocking than in the bonnet."

    Fishducky : Thank you for hearing about this therapy. I was beginning to feel cukoo. :)

    Inger : Who can argue with 108? There is something so peaceful about a country road and the absence of traffic alone is a blessing.

    Delores : Thank you too, for knowing about the merits of bee venom. It sounded mighty kooky. :)

    Teresa : Dutch used to be a common nickname. You absolutely never hear it anymore. Years later, I was with my Mother but I seemed to think of my earlier years as home.

    Terry : If anyone would have heard of bee therapy, it will be you. It's funny that people will take a shot from a needle but cringe at the thought of a bee sting. eeowwee

    TexWis Girl : I've heard that now that you've jarred my memory. Wonder how many people with MS use it?

    Turquoisemoon : Oh good idea. Let me know if you find anything good.

    Carolyn : As I said to Kitty, better in the stockings than in the bonnet. Ha.

  12. What a lovely story, Manzanita. Such a different life from mine in NYC.

  13. I think anyone who puts bees in their stocking to get stung on purpose lives a long life not because of bee venom, but because they are just too tough to die! That is an amazing story. I was most touched by your perspective on being left with relatives, who clearly did a great job of loving you and raising you. Very sweet.

  14. You were doubly gifted. Dutch and Oliver--character names if there ever were.

    I will not try the bee sting thing, though.

  15. My parents both worked in sharecropper families picking cotton during the depression. People's world views were different in those days and after suffering burning and cut hands at the end of a day's work, a couple of bees would not be such a pain if it served to keep other things away. I've come to love country roads in my own days.

  16. Those are some great memories you have.

  17. I haven't heard the word rumble seat for years. How on earth did it come into being? Aunt Dutch was fortunate not to have an allergy to bee stings! Still going at 108, oh my goodness. have a great week. Sue

  18. She got stung by bees on purpose???


    I'd like to live to 108, but I'm not doing the bee sting thing.

  19. Hey - if I have to get stung by a bee every day I think I'll settle for whatever span fate has lined up for me!

  20. Karen : I bet there was a world of difference. We can't imagine what it would be like to have grown up in each other's shoes.

    Galen : I think I'd prefer the bee sting once in a while to the diabetic who gives himself a shot every day with a needle. That's scary to me. :

    Susan : I never thought about names. They most certainly are character names. Ha

    Rubye : I've never lived where cotton was grown but I've read and seen in movies how treacherous it is on the hands. Jeez that must be painful. Don't they have machines now, to pick cotton. We should appreciate our natural fiber clothing. I try to wear cotton and wool. I've always spun my own wool but of late years, I haven't. I raised llamas and angora goats for my own spinning but there is no elasticity and you need to blend some sheep wool with it. I'm rambling but I love to talk about fibers. Yes, your poor parents having to pick cotton every day. We've had a much better life..... (until these uncertain times).

  21. Ruth : Yes we all love to look back on childhood memories. Thanks for visiting.

    Sue : Actually neither have I. It just popped into my head. It was Oliver's Mother who kept the bees and lived to 108. I can remember going to her farm and finding it fascinating but I really didn't know her personally that well.

    River : Ha Ha.... I doubt if anyone would do the bee thing these days. There is a a bee venom therapy that people talk about. I wonder if they give it to you in shots. I'd find that worse. Guess I'll have to look it up now that I'm curious.

    A J : I doubt if Oliver's mother did the bee sting thing for longevity exactly but I've heard it helps arthritis. Perhaps if you remove the old age arthritis, you live longer. I'm guessing. :)

  22. This one's great Manzi.

    Your life has been the BEST adventure!

    xoxoxo, cd

  23. Fascinating story! What a great family. Thank you for sharing!

  24. I wonder if bees bring allergic reactions or long life.

    Or is the deciding lot cast, finally, by how we believe?

  25. How sad that your mother felt the need to abandon you for a number of years. But, how nice of your aunt and uncle to take you in and raise you. What an incredible childhood you had, Manzanita. Blessings! And, no, I would not try being stung by bees. No thanks! lol.

  26. Such a gentle story of a bygone age. Things might not have been better then but they were certainly less hectic.

    Have you tried bees in your stocking? Perhaps you are just a long-lived family.

  27. Aren't you the lucky one?...everyone needs an Uncle Oliver and an Aunt Dutch in their lives..

  28. Your Uncle Oliver sounds like an absolute sweetheart. I'm glad you had him and your Aunt Dutch. Hugs with much love. :-)

  29. The farm lane is lovely - and straight from my imagination, too, when I think about old family farms.

    I used to get stung by a bee at least once every summer when I was growing up. I loved to play outside and usually I was barefoot.

    Since I'm somewhat allergic to bees, my foot - or wherever I got stung - would swell to at least double the size and stay that way for a couple of days.

    Maybe the venom gave me a little good health :)

  30. Beautiful story. Great memories can be made in any situation, it's all about the attitude.

    Thanks for sharing.

  31. What a beautiful story. You sounded like you were shielded from the worst of the Great Depression.

  32. Great story and your Aunt Dutch sounds like quite a character.
    Unfortunately, I'm allergic to bee stings. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  33. Clare : Thanks for visiting. Winter will soon find it's way to your neck of the woods again, too. Gee, we've been writing a whole year.

    Talli : I've been meaning to tell you I like your profile picture.

    Suze : I don't know much about bees. I do like their honey, though.

  34. Gigi : I had a good childhood although it was a bit unconventional for the times. I don't know if I would be thrilled about getting stung by bees on purpose, either. I used to get stung on my bare feet when I was little because they were in the grass.

    Friko : No, I've never tried bees in the stocking. The bee keeper was Oliver's Mother. She was the one who lived to be 108. Oliver was an uncle by marriage so he had the long-lived family.

    Ain't for City Gals : Thanks for stopping and commenting. I hope your Father remains getting better.

    Thanks Su-sieee : You and I were lucky to have good parenting in our lives. It is so important especially during our formative years.

    Carol : I don't know much about bees but I, too, used to get stung on the bottom of my bare feet in the summer. Guess they were always in the grass. But I do like their honey.

  35. Giggled and Guns : Yes, today is my grandmother's birthday and I've been thinking of her all day. We do live with our memories.

    Al : I think you are right. At least at the farm we always had food and I guess that's what the world was scrambling for.

    Marguerite : Thanks for stopping. I like your cajun music.

  36. What a great opportunity you had growing up with "parents" who weren't really your parents. They sound like such interesting people.

  37. Hi Manzanita - a story so well told .. love the words, the sentiment, the learning and the fact you can pass it on to us. Would love to hear more .. there must be much more?!

    Great people .. and what an amazing family .. I guess farming families were probably like that - all pulling together - yet always having the black sheep, who'd do their thing = your mother.

    What a lovely place to inherit .. glorious photo .. Bees in stockings though and living to 108 - amazing!

    Cheers - please tell us more .. Hilary