Black & White Photograph c. 1950
by Maralee Gerke

When I was six years old
my family trekked to the Missouri
Ozark country to visit my grandparents.

I didn’t know that they had
no electricity or water
but that was of no consequence.

Several times a day
I got to help draw water
from the well across the street.

My grandpa Charlie would take my hand
and together we would drop
the wooden bucket into the depths.

The rope would creak
as I helped him turn the handle to
raise the bucket brimming with water.

Looking back now, what I thought was a novelty
was a way of life to them.
It never dawned on me that

the bucket held their drinking water,
Cooking water, washing water,
and bathing water.

I never realized that
poverty ruled their daily life.
All I knew was that

Grandpa Charlie let me help
the life-giving liquid from
that ancient well. I was loved.


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