“You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die.”
Today would have been my Great-Gramma Rosie’s 100th birthday. She was a loving and wonderful grandmother, but I never knew her to be one to restrain herself from speaking her mind. This old saying is mild compared with some of her gems.
So what does it mean exactly? According to The Free Dictionary, “You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die” just means that life deals us each a share of woe. I recently learned that a peck is the equivalent of 8 quarts. That’s a lot of dirt to eat, but spread out over a lifetime? Eh, maybe not as bad.
Gramma Rosie’s share came from Norwich PA where she was born, as well as a handful of other places she lived–Lockport NY, Liberty PA, the Randolph Children’s Home where she and her siblings stayed while their mother sorted out a rough patch–and Olean NY, where she lived for most of her life.
She married young, became a young mother and a young grandmother, was widowed young, and retained her youthful spirit into her nineties. She loved dollies and garage sales and chattering birds–both the kind kept as pets and the ones meant to twitter away in the lilac branches. She worked many years at the Olean Tile Plant–I’m not sure what her job was there, but I assume a good bit of her peck of dirt came from there. I want to say I’ve been told that ladies who worked at the tile plant could be pretty salty when it pleased them.
But never mind that. Until we meet again, here’s to one hundred years. Happy birthday, Gramma Rosie. There’s another little saying I remember you used, and I’ll send it back to you now: I love you, a bushel and a peck.