Charles Clanton Rogers

Reflections based on poetry, music, visual art, book reviews, history of science, first-person history, philosophical essays and International Blogging

charles 1938

Early Charles

This essay first appeared as “Early Childhood Education- 1938 Version”,  as a Guest Author, in NOVEMBER 5, 2015, LAURA GRACE WELDON: Free Range Learning



“Catch that bird! Don’t let that chicken get away, Charles!”

I was four years old, enrolled in Grandmother’s Biology & History class. On that morning, we covered the food chain, the hunt, the kill, butchering, anatomy of a hen, and introduction to animal reproduction.

The time and place were 1938 Oklahoma. Money was scarce for everyone. My great inherited fortune was not money, but family. I was an only child and only grandchild of a doting family. I was kind of a “prince” of an infinitely small principality consisting of five adults and one little boy.

I didn’t know it then, but the entire country was mired in the Great Depression. In our state, dust bowl conditions were destroying farms and forcing “Okies” into a desperate exodus in pursuit of California jobs.
Dust_Bowl_Oklahoma   depression 2

Oklahoma images, 1930’s

Back to the morning’s Biology & History lesson. Grandmother and I were “the hunters.” We caught that chicken, terminated its earthly journey, then plucked and cleaned it. I learned comparative anatomy as Grandmother identified the hen’s internal structures. She talked about the chicken and egg as a circle of life. Then she coated the pieces in egg and flour and fried it along with fresh okra that we picked from her garden (we were the “gatherers” too).

After lunch was my Music lesson, which meant Grandmother sang.That was just the morning.

childhood 1 I had a tricycle and Lil’ Red Wagon like these.

My grandmother was a seamstress; work that she did in our home. She was certain not to neglect that responsibility.  Her sewing machine was a Singer foot trade model. She sat with both feet on the treadle. Pumping it back and forth moved a belt from the treadle up to a pulley attached to the needle mechanism. I didn’t realize it then, but observing the mechanical action was itself a Physics lesson.

sewing machine

Grandmother would spread the material out on the floor and pin the pattern pieces. She trusted me to cut pieces around the patterns with pinking shears. I knew a mistake could cause waste and expense, so I took this responsibility very seriously.

While she was making a dress, I had my little sewing projects. I learned how to thread a needle and sew two pieces of cloth together making a small pocket for coins. It seemed like a way to pass the time, but that early sewing experience came in handy years later when I became a physician and surgeon.

After I had completed sewing, it was Art class using coloring books and Crayola colors. I think I had eight colors. I was very careful to “stay-within-the-lines.” (another lesson for Life.)

After dinner, Grandmother read to me. (“The Little Engine That Could,” story book was my favorite. I could say it by heart and turn the pictures pages as if I were reading.)

Train that cpould

Grandmother had plenty of other things to do, but whatever she was doing I was part of her team.

Often she impressed upon me that I needed to learn my lessons well because I was going to grow up and have children and students and it would be my sacred responsibility to teach them the things she taught me just as her parents had taught her when she was a girl.

Grandmother’s love was undeniable. Also, she certainly knew as the poet wrote,

“The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”

Every waking moment was an education. That suited me just fine. It did not occur to me that the immersive learning of my early years was in any way unusual. My “preschool/homeschool” didn’t have any names or labels. It was just Life. I thought it was what everyone did.

George Gershwin and DuBois Heyward wrote the opera, Porgy & Bess in 1934, my birth year.

The lyrics of its immortal song, “Summertime”, could have been the theme of my preschool years:


“One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing,

And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky,

But ’til that morning, there ain’t nothin’ can harm you….

hush little baby, don’t you cry.”

bab bird 2

Dedicated to Christa Belle Stevenson Clanton: Grandmother to  Jan, Christy, Boscoe, Buz, Hank, Candy and Charles

Charles Clanton Rogers November 10, 2015

Please tell me your location in the comment section. Feel free to Reblog or Share.


23 thoughts on “Lessons from My Grandmother – Introduction

  1. Krissy says:

    Beautiful, thank you for writing this!
    Bend, Oregon

    Liked by 2 people

    1. clanton1934 says:

      I’m glad you liked. I have other similar posts.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jan Struebing says:

    So many warm memories flooded back as I read the article. We were indeed blessed to have her.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. blondieaka says:

    My mum had a similar machine handed down from my nana ,I love posts like this that invoke memories of the past, thank you..Oh and love your comment on your about page ” I won the lottery with my family ” such a lovely thing to say 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. clanton1934 says:

      Thank you so much. Earlier, without my intending to “write history”, some my readers told me they liked reading my “first-person accounts”. It was this encouragement that led “Lessons from my Grandmother”. It also led to my “time-traveler”: The Thirties, Forty, Forty-one, Fouty-two.
      Where did you grow up; where do you live now? Charles

      Liked by 1 person

      1. blondieaka says:

        I grew up just outside London in the UK and now I have retired I live in Phuket , Thailand…very different, warmer for starters. I like first person accounts so keep writing 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. clanton1934 says:

        I just published: “FDR IS DEAD” (I lived in London 2969-70/71) c


      3. clanton1934 says:

        My apologies to Sir Winston Churchill; A giant of the 20th Century; (this was from my 7 -11 year old mind; I learned to read & study Churchilla little later in my life! c

        Liked by 1 person

      4. blondieaka says:

        Apologises accepted, we all learn history from the perspective of wherever we originate from and later in life realise that maybe just maybe there are two sides don’t we ? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. bbnewsab says:

    I notice this post has already made its way into your Top Posts & Pages-list.

    15 LIKES so far. More to come.

    I myself would rank this post as your #1. So far. But at the same time I know there is more to come from your magic “pen”.

    Please, KK, don’t hesitate. You have found your special niche. One need not be closely related to you to understand how valuable your autobiographical memories are. They are not just super. They are inspiring as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. clanton1934 says:

      Thank you PV; 1. You are right; this “first-person histories” is mine. 2. Is because of your insight and encouragement that written these . It had not occurred to me that, that was interesting. Thank you. The next one is in early draft. How are your injuries coming along? K

      Liked by 1 person

  5. bbnewsab says:

    I notice this post has now advanced to the #2 position on your Top Posts & Pages List. Last time I checked it was on the #5 position. I wouldn’t be surprised if it conquered the #1 position. It’s a SPLENDID and EXCELLENT post. With an irresistably cute & charming little boy on top.

    KK, do you remember why you look so happy in that photo? Was the photo shot by a professional photographer or by a close relative? Anyhow it’s a MASTERPIECE.

    BTW, my frail body is slowly healing from my injury. But the progress is uneven. It reminds me of a Scandinavian folk dance called jenka. You hop like a rabbit forward and then backwards – and forward again. Have you heard of this “crazy” folk dance before, KK? Here you can have a look at the dance moves of jenka: .


    1. clanton1934 says:

      No we don’t have that particular one, but one can find the most remarkable things that American young people do on television.
      p.s. the photograph is clearly professional; no amateur photographer in the 1930’s could have approached that. I was probably promised a pony ride when the picture was right which would have explained the smile.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Candy says:

    I loved the article. I am getting to know you and my grandmother more too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. clanton1934 says:

      We share much; your father, Bourley, Jr (my “big brother”) was the crown jewel of our grandmother’s life. That’s a big share! c


  7. “It seemed like a way to pass the time, but that early sewing experience came in handy years later when I became a physician and surgeon.” Was it the physics of it all?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. clanton1934 says:

      “All Science is Physics; all of the rest is just ‘stamp-collecting”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha, ha, ha!! Physics and a small drizzle of stamp collecting is always good.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. clanton1934 says:

        I was biology/ medicine; but entered Radiation Oncolgy; sub specialty high energy particles/ cyclotrons. I worked hour by hour with about 2 dozen terrific physicist; they keep me out of trouble; I still keep in touch with several. c

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Integrity vs. Despair.
        You are a picture of what integrity is!!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. clanton1934 says:

        I would aspire to grow into your perception. c

        Liked by 1 person

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