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Maine Correctional Center – Arline Lawless, MDOC #60057

17 Mallison Falls Road – Windham, Maine 04062

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I am going to tell you about me when I was a child. I grew up in Baring Maine. There, according to the Census Bureau, there on the plantation, this has a total area of 24.1 square miles. 20.9 square miles of it is land, and 3.2 square miles of it is water.

Now, on with my story, we were poor. I mean, at lest that is what the government thought because we were below the poverty line. I can remember my Mimi and I would pick berries: blackberries, raspberries, etc. We would get as much as we could and take them back home. We made jam out of them and of course froze some for making jam another day. The jam was divided between my families. We all worked together to feed the families. There wasn’t any of this “Oh well, you ain’t got nothing to eat? Well, sorry about your bad luck.”

We had pigs down back in the barn. They would get out and ear the rotten apples that had fallen off the tree which we picked to make things like apple pie and other apple based deserts. The pigs would get drunk from the fermented apples and stumble all over the place. I remember when we got the pigs. I made the mistake of naming one of them. Big mistake. I, being a little kid, had no idea that the pig’s future was they are going to be put into our freezers to feed us for winter.

My Uncle Bubba chased me and my kind-of-cousin around with a pig head. That was very..ahh, shall we say, frightening experience to say the least, considering that I was about six years old. I remember there was a big garage beside Mimi and Bampy’s house. We used to go over to Uncle Bubba’s house to play games and what have you. I wouldn’t go outside and walk past the garage due to the fact that the pigs were hanging upside down out there to let the blood drain.

Well, we had four pigs and we kept one female pig for breeding s we didn’t have e to buy the pigs again because they were expensive. We divided the meat up between the five different houses and that was that for the meat. Of course there were other things that were shot and put into the freezer: deer, quail, beaver, fox – you get the picture. There were not too many animals that we wouldn’t catch to putin the freezer.

Out to Bruno’s house there were three great big gardens for us. He had lots of space for the gardens. Mimi, Bruno and Uncle Jack each had one to take care of. Of course though there were us kids and the rest of the family. We would bring in the crops from the gardens can some of the baggies and freeze what-have-you and once again the product was split between the families.

We made money by raking blueberries and making wreaths. Everything that was made was made by hand. I remember making bows out of spools of red velvet like ribbon. I would make hundreds of them. That is how we got our clothes for school. Or at least for winter. We had hand-me-downs, from Uncles, cousins – you get where I am going with this. We would go to places like Marden’s and hit places like Ames when there were a bunch of clearance racks. I know a lot of people wouldn’t do that, but what choice did we have? We needed clothes for winter and summer.m

My mom and uncles and grandparents all raked blueberries to get clothes and school supplies for all us kids. There were a total of fifteen of us kids to get stuff for school. That was a lot of stuff, you know. Backpack, clothes, notebooks, all that fun stuff and new clothes or clothes that had been made to look like something new. What I mean is there would be clothes that had holes in them in the knees and what have you. My family would cut off the legs at the knees and cut the crotch out of them and then sew material up each side of the legs to make a skirt. You know what I mean, we refurbished material so it didn’t look like we were poor and couldn’t always get the expensive clothing the other kids were getting.

I can remember my uncles, cousins and grandfather would go tipping (picking brush) for people up in other places that aren’t the country. I guess that “tipping” to most people is tipping over cows. They call it brushing up here in the not-redneck land, I guess.Yeah, I am a redneck and I am damn proud to be. You will never meet a better bunch of people than the people who don’t have a whole lot to begin with. I was raised that you do anything that you can do to help out others.

I would even give someone who is much older and smaller than me my sweatshirt when we get called out to do fire drills. She would refuse it most of the time, but I would take my sweat shirt and wrap it around her and kind of like, hug her, for my God, she is over 70, you know? I also string and do facials and stuff like that in here for the women. Some of the other women in here say that I should charge for my services. I say, “No,” that is not the way I was raised. If I can’t do something nice for someone to make them feel pampered and better about themselves where it doesn’t happen all that often.

Why don’t you just back off, you know? In return it makes me feel better about myself for changing something about them, like I used to do with tattooing. I mean, what the fuck. Then they say that this is prison and it is a hustle. That people don’t do that shit for nothing. I say that I am not people and if that is what I choose to do in my spare time then that is my prerogative. Correct.

Okay, back to the reason why I started to write this piece. I know that we didn’t always have the latest DVD player or computer or what-have-you, when I was a child, but I can tell you something – though we might not ave had everything that we wanted, we damn sure had everything that we needed. Each of the different families would make sure that if they got one thing for one of the kids then until they had one for each of us, no one would get said item. No one made you feel like you didn’t matter to them because with my family, blood is thicker than water.

Love ya,

Arline

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