An American Life: The Simple Things This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   My great-grandmother turns her face upward to feel the air from the droning fan andsmiles gently at me. She tugs at the cuffs of her pants and straightens thecollar of her plaid shirt, which she wears over a blue t-shirt, and twirls astrand of her mostly gray curls. Shouts from children licking chocolate ice-creamcones drift slowly through the screened windows as she and I munch sugar cookieswith pink icing.

My great-grandma, Martha White, was the fourth of eightchildren (and the first girl) born on a farm in central Ohio. Her father workedthe farm, though found a job mining coal. While he was away in the mines, thechildren worked on the farm and milked the cows. He worked long hours all week toget his Saturday paycheck, and occasionally, for a treat, would buy all thechildren bags of candy. They would savor them, sometimes even saving the wrappersfrom Hershey's bars to smell the chocolate.

Not every Sunday, but oftenenough, the whole family would travel in their surrey (a horse-drawn carriage) toher grandma's house.

At Christmas, her mom - my great-great-grandmother -would make rag dolls for the five girls, and her dad made the three boys wagonsand wooden wheelbarrows to push and pull around the farm. Real treats werefinding oranges in their stocking and the aroma of homemade fudge wafting throughthe house.

Grandma tells me she remembers her father sitting down todinner with his family every night to eat beans, cornbread and fried potatoes.Sometimes his sister would come over, though, and make fluffy mashed potatoes,pork chops and cake, to the delight of the eight children.

Their familywasn't dirt poor, but didn't have any to spare, either. "We were so poor, welived off the corn, beans and carrots we grew in our garden," Grandmarecalls. She had to gather greens with her sisters and cook them so the familywouldn't starve during the roughest times.

"I always try to economizeand appreciate the simple things," my great-grandmother says.

Thefact is, she's not one of the simple things.

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This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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