Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dreams, Snakes, and Rails

We talked about dreams today. How my mom often dreams that she and her twin are lost. In real life, when they were girls, she and her sister got lost in the woods. After walking and walking they came across a pasture of cows. When the cows began to follow them, they were afraid so they ran, and the cows ran after them, and they were even more frightened, but they had the sense to stop running before they were trampled. Last night, in her dreams, my mom and her sister were lost again. They had to run, but she wasn't sure from what. My aunt ran like the wind on her prosthetic legs, my mom said. And later in the dream, she had no legs, but still she somehow ran so fast my mom could barely keep up.

Tonight at dinner, she told me about the bounty on rattlesnakes. The county paid you fifty cents for a rattle. Real money in those days, she said. You could get a giant sack filled with loaves of day old bread for a nickel back then. Fifty cents was a fortune. She and her sister stoned the snakes to death, then cut off the rattle.

And she told me how her brother would stand by the railroad tracks waiting for the freight trains. Sometimes coal fell out of the overloaded coal cars, and sometimes the men working on the train would throw down some coal just to give it to him. He would gather it up and take it home for the potbellied stove that heated their house. Later the brother became a hobo. Road the rails across the country and back again.


Mel said...

Our parents stories, fragments of a past we can barely imagine, fascinate me and I only regret I didn't catch more of them from my family while I could. Your mom's stories are treasure.

Dreams are so strange, aren't they? Where do they come from?? I wonder why as I grow older, so many of my dreams involve running, striving, struggling. I wish for silly, happy warm dreams. I've not yet been chased by a herd of cows, though, so I'll be grateful for that. :)

Steph(anie) said...

What great stories!

pam said...

I heard a fascinating feature on BBC Radio 4 on people who spend a lifetime riding the rails. I bet he has some amazing stories. Those people throwing him coal must have made a huge impression and seemed very romantic.