You know how it feels when you are so thirsty for a cold drink of water? Nothing else but water? No soda, no juice, just plain cold water. I found myself with this kind of thirst today at work. I don't know what brings on a thirst like this. Dehydration? Eating something salty? Or just the 85 degree weather that we have had the last couple of days. Never the less, I made my thirst known to my co workers. I noticed that one of the girls, 'Lora' left out of the room for a minute and when she came back in, she had this huge jug of ice cold water with her. She had filled it up that morning and put it in the refrigerator. She brought it in and flopped it down in front of me. AAAAHHHHH!!!! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! I picked the jug up and drank directly from the mouth of it. So very cold, and oh soooo good. The water trickled out of the side of my mouth and down my chin and dripped on the table. I was immediately taken back in time, to another way of life, a very young age..........
My mother had several of glass gallon jugs that had these silvery looking screw on lids. I would call these jugs multi=purpose, for they were used for everything around the house. In the summer months she would make a gallon of tea every day in one of these jugs. Not this instant stir with a spoon stuff. She had this little metal tea bag that she would fill with loose tea, boil it in a pan of water on the stove top, then pour that in the gallon jug with a half a bag of sugar (joking) and then fill it up with water. The first thing that my dad would ask for when he got home from work on those hot sweltering summer days, was a glass of ice tea. By the time supper was over and time for bed the gallon of tea would be about gone, so the next day she would get up and make another gallon.
These jugs also had domestic uses too. I remember that she had one that was filled with buttons. Every kind of button you could think of. See, back in those hard times, you didn't throw things like buttons away. When a piece of clothing was totally outgrown by all the kids, and was no longer mendable, mom would cut the buttons off of the garment and rip out the zipper, if it had one. These were precious items that could be reused many times o'er. She would throw all of these buttons in a jug, when a button was needed for a shirt or dress, then WA-LAH!! She had just the button to fit the hole.
Another use for these jugs was to store garden seed. I remember packs or envelopes of tiny little seeds that she had savored from the plants themselves I suppose. I know that she bought some seeds from the local hardware store too. She would have this gallon jug of seeds sitting in a corner of the kitchen waiting until spring and time to put them in the ground. Seems like there was always a jug of seeds sitting there summer and winter.
The memory that my cold drink of water triggered the most though takes me back to when I was about 4 or 5 years old. This would be somewhere around 1957-1958'ish. From then, and until I was in about the 3rd grade or so, school was closed every fall for a few weeks for 'cotton picking vacation'. (The younger ones that read this will think this is crazy, but the people my age and older will totally relate.) This was a time before the modern machinery of cotton pickers and combines or whatever these farmers use these days. The cotton that was picked back then was done with 2 arms and 10 fingers. You had to pull a sack that was 6 to 8 feet long. It had a strap that draped over one shoulder and you pulled it behind you as you actually picked cotton off the stalk and threw it in the sack. It was just a given that most kids helped their parents work in the fields during this time. I remember that you got paid by the pound. However many pound of cotton that you picked in a days time you got so much money at the end of the day. Not only was this money used by the kids to buy school clothes and supplies, lots of times it was used to put food on the table and to stock up on dry good items, i.e. sugar, flour, lard, for the winter months. You could drive by a field of cotton and see maybe 20 or 30 people working in the field.
Now I got really lucky here. I was the 'baby' of the family and so I didn't see a whole lot of these cotton picking days like my older brothers and sisters did. I mostly remember laying on my mom's sack with my baby doll, after she got it about half full, and having her drag me down the field one little drag at a time, like I was the Queen of Sheeba or something. Every once in a while I would rise from my throne and pick a couple of 'wads' of cotton and throw them in her sack. Sometimes I would take a nap while the others worked. My main interest was what was waiting at the end of the cotton row. And yes, you guessed it. It was the gallon jug of water. Mom would always pre-plan what row of cotton that we were going to be in on the way back. You see, when picking cotton, you go down one row, all the way to the end, and sometimes that could be a quarter of a mile or so, and then back up another row before you ever got to that blessed drink of water. Mom would put that jug of water under neath a big leafy cotton stalk to keep the sun off of it. That would keep it as cool as was possible on a warm day without ice. When we would reach the end that held that water jug, we would all run and line up to get our drink. Who cared about being sanitary, just give me a drink. Water would run out of our mouths, down our chins, down our elbows and a dirty little splat of mud would hit the ground. Sometimes the boys would get in trouble for 'wasting' the water, because who could have a whole big jug of water in their hands on a very warm fall day without a little bit of a water fight. Of course, mom knew if the water ran out before the day ended then we were in trouble. Funny that thought never crossed our minds!! At the end of the day when the 'weighing' was done, all of the cotton sacks rolled up, and our lunch box all gathered, mom would say ' one of you kids get the water jug'. Most of the time it was an argument over who was going to carry it to the car.
Now, I am not saying that I miss those times in life, although they do make for good memories. I am thankful that life is much easier now. I wish that I had one of mom's old gallon jugs,I don't know what ever happened to them. Maybe they got broken through the years. Maybe she gave them away. If I had one maybe I would make tea in it. Maybe I would have a button collection. Maybe I would just have me a nice cold drink of water from it. But I am thinking that it doesn't really matter, that when you are hot and tired and you have an unquenchable thirst, whether it comes from a bottle from a grocery store, a faucet from a sink, or an old gallon jug, its the cool clear refreshing drink of only the water itself that satisfies the thirst......