When I was a little girl, I read and read and read! I loved books! When I began teaching my own kids how to read, everyone told me stories of when they learned to read, but I couldn’t remember learning to read. It seemed that I could always read, so I asked my mother. My mother told me that when I was about four years old, the kids next door brought their school books home, and I taught myself to read from their books. She said I was so in love with books that I devoured every book around, even the neighbor’s books. I have read so much that I know I can easily believe what she said. She wasn’t just being a proud mother. In all those stories, there was a very special story. It was called “Blue Willow.”
I read a children’s novel called “Blue Willow.” It was all about a beautiful china plate that a little migrant girl treasured. It took place in the Great Depression in the San Joaquin Valley in California, and I really understood the setting. When my dad was 9 years old, he rode on a running board of a car all the way from Oklahoma to California during the Great Depression, and from then until he graduated from high school, he lived in California. My dad graduated from Vasalia High School in California. My dad lived in California working in the fields until he graduated from high school, joined the Air Force and began to travel the world. He eventually ended up in Oklahoma and Texas again. His family were migrant farm workers just like the little girl in the book. The little girl in the book had a best friend who was Hispanic, and my dad did too. I guess you can begin to see why I originally had a connection with the book and I wondered about the china plate the little girl treasured because it reminded her of her mother who had passed away and had originally belonged to her great-great grandmother.
I understood the poverty of the little girl because my parents told me about the poverty in their homes during the Great Depression. In Oklahoma, it was also called the Dust Bowl because there was so much dust blowing in the wind and crops wouldn’t grow. In my dad’s house, once all they had to eat all winter was potatoes, fried potatoes, boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, and baked potatoes. He woke up at night and heard his mother crying and praying because she had nothing to feed her children, but somehow, they all survived to adulthood. My mother’s family was luckier because her family owned a fruit farm, so they didn’t have to leave Oklahoma during the Great Depression, but they were still very poor. They didn’t have running water, and used an ice box in the kitchen instead of a refrigerator. Because of the time period, they didn’t even have televisions. My mother said her family used to gather around a radio to listen to stories just as if it were a television. They didn’t have loaves of bread to take sandwiches to school, and my grandmother made biscuits every morning, and they would stuff those biscuits full of meat like a sandwich to take to school with them. My mother didn’t ride a school bus to school, but rode a horse to school. They didn’t have much, but they had more than my father’s family had.
My dad told he he had never eaten a peach until he went to California. His dad went to California first. His dad jumped a train like a hobo and rode it all the way to California. They used to mark houses in those days where these travelers could get food, and my mother’s house was marked. She told me she went into the kitchen in the middle of the night one night, and a strange man was there. All he wanted was food, so she made food for him, he ate, and he left. My grandfather made it to California and ended up in a migrant camp where they were taking advantage of the workers. The only store was a company store, and they were charging extremely high prices, but offered credit. People were buying on credit, but their wages were so low, they were unable to pay, so they were caught working there just to pay their bill at the store they could never pay. My grandfather was smart enough to figure out what was going on and moved on before he was caught. He found a job in a peach orchard. He was given a house in the peach orchard that was full of mice, snakes, and who knows what else. He put a bunch of sulfur in a big barrel. He lit that barrel on fire and left the house. The smoke from the barrel caused all the vermin to run, and after a few days, he could move in, and the house was free from vermin. When my dad got there, my grandpa had the place all cleaned up, and there was a big bowl of peaches sitting on the cabinet. My dad sunk his teeth into one of those peaches and felt like a rich man!
I always remembered the Blue Willow china Story. Because of the way my dad grew up, there was a real connection. I had been to all the places mentioned in the book. I always wanted to see one of those plates. I ran into some of the plates in a store here in Korea. I was thrilled to finally see one! I picked it up and looked at the back. I figured they were from China, but they were from England! The literature said people from England had gone to China and come back with lots of stories, and some had painted the china to look like china from China. I was always better off than my parents were growing up, but money has always been tight for me. I don’t just buy something because I am fascinated with it, but I was fascinated with those plates!
My daughter remembered at Christmas time, and she bought me a small set of Blue Willow china. On Facebook, I saw where a lady was showing off all her different kinds of fancy china, and she had a Blue Willow china cup and saucer. I saw that I wasn’t the only one collecting this beautiful china. I looked it up on the internet and learned there was still another story connected to Blue Willow china, the story on the plate itself. It is a tragic love story originally from China. I saw that there were many versions of the story with the names changed as well as many poems written about the love story.
I am so glad I fell in love with books when I was a little girl! My world was opened up in so many ways through reading. I was a quiet child, and people used to say about me things like “silence is golden” or “All she ever does is listen.” My grandfather used to give me a hard time because he always saw me with a book in my hand. He would say, “Too much reading will make you crazy!” Now, I talk much more than I used to. I became a college professor. Too much reading gave me a job. I have traveled the world and read about everywhere I have lived, and now you are reading my blogs. All that reading doesn’t seem to have hurt me, and I understand the beautiful plates my daughter bought me thanks to all that reading and listening.
If you want to read my latest book about people trying to escape Communism in Romania, it is on Amazon. The name of it is Escaping Communism. My name is Ronda Everson, and I am the author. The publisher is a Korean publisher named Oms Publishing. The link to find it is this:
If you have Kindle, it is also on Kindle for people to read.