|Vol. III, No. 3, Winter 1990|
I was pleased to note, in your Fall, 1989 OzarksWatch, that you folks have finally located the center of civilization -- Thomasville. Shucks, I have known this TRUTH all of my life]
I was born within an easy stone's throw of the spots where the two photos were taken. My grandfather, and later my parents, operated a general merchandise store throughout the '20s and '30s in two of the three buildings shown on the right of the older photo. We lived there when we Pierce children were among the "town kids" until the late '30s when we, as Bob Flanders described in his article, moved to the farm some seven miles from Thomasville. How we missed our daily swim in the Eleven Point and Middle Fork Rivers!
Ellen and I attended and graduated from Thomasville and still know many of the "natives'' pictured in the newer photo (including Ellen's brother and sister-in-law). We have great respect for Dick and Peg Shaw and can well appreciate what they have done for that community. Their half-century in that area would make a great story in itself.
Keep up the good work.
Ed and Ellen Pierce
Thanks again for arranging the marvelous lunch in December. [The Harvest Season Tasting Festival sponsored by the OzarksWatch Society]. Both Charlotte and I found it both enjoyable and informative. OzarksWatch readers include a fascinating variety of people.
One of the foods which we brought was a root dish, partly because of its significance to the lives of Ozarks residents in the days before supermarkets and the year-round availability of fresh produce.
From the last beans and greens of mid-November through the winter months, Ozarks families existed on the foods which had been "put up." These consisted of canned vegetables, smoked and salted meats, and those foods which would keep in so-called "root cellars."
This lack of fresh food for a three-month period is one reason most Ozarks residents looked forward to the time of "sassafras tea and poke greens" in the early spring. Those were the first fresh foods after a long winter.
One favorite expression in the Howell-Oregon county region where I grew up was that you survived by "doing everything you knew about farming, and in August you planted turnips."
Charlotte's recipe for Root Vegetables: Prepare either separately or together by boiling in salted water:
Amounts chosen to suit taste and availability.
Place in a serving dish and cover with either a hollandaise sauce or lemon butter. The lemon butter is preferred when there will be some time between preparation and serving. This dish allows the flavors of the various roots to mix as time passes. It thus changes character when used as leftovers for a later meal.
Thanks again for all you do in the preservation of Ozarks culture and history.
Bill and Charlotte Northrip
Your Fall, 1989 issue of OzarksWatch on small towns was great. The articles were factual, true, and to the point. I especially enjoyed Dale Freeman's story on "The Once and Future Ozarks."
Having lived in Dade County from 1969 to 1985, the changes Dale brought out all have happened. I am not sure the Ozarks are ready for his futuristic ideas. Only with local leadership, drive, imagination, and planning will many of the small towns Freeman mentions be able to prosper in the 1990s and beyond.
Suggestions for future stories on towns include Jerico Springs, Hoberg, Aldrich, Sylvania, Lawrenceburg, Red Oak, Penssobro, Pilgrim, and Meinert.
Jefferson City, Missouri
Dr. Flanders' article "Rememberence," [OzarksWatch, Fall, 1989] makes one wonder.
Yes, even the smallest towns projected a tidier, more prolific image, but in my experience many of these "appearances" suddenly collapsed. The overextended residents lost all, some became railroad bums, while others became experts at charcoal sketching. One such itinerant artist sketched our great grandfather, the only picture we have of him, and it shows excellent talent.
Some fathers deserted large families and were never heard from again. So, amidst the toil and sweat of farm life, a lesser dependency on "store bought" necessities and professional services resulted in a survival code which could be implemented in present uncertain times. And our even less-certain future.
Thanks to OzarksWatch you have given us one great bundle of history in a most convenient form]
Virginia R. Snyder
I was intending to prepare a lot of information on Food and Culture, but seems time slips up on you.
I was born in 1941 on Rushing Ridge in north Boone County, Arkansas, between Bergman and Lead Hill. My father, Raymond Cantrell, raised tomato patches. This was in about 1943 and 1944. I remember seeing the tomatoes all over the vines and seeing them in crates. In asking my mother about this recently, she said they received $12 a ton which was 45 crates. Later, when I was about eight years old, we had a tomato patch south of Bergman. I remember my job was to drop the plants. Daddy had plowed it cross-checked and you dropped them on the corner of each check. My older sister, Mary, and Daddy planted them and my sister Helen carried a water bucket putting a dipper full of water on each plant after it was set out. Later, when they grew to maturity and we had to pick them to sell, we sometimes got in a fight with the rotten ones if Mother and Daddy were not around. I can remember Helen, who has platinum blond hair, with red spots in it and the seeds running off, and running off and hiding behind the few trees left in the new ground. These tomatoes were sold to the Bergman, Zinc, and Olvey canning factories at $20 a ton. Mother said they were real pleased with this price.
When we wanted to have chicken to eat, Mom would take a piece of baling wire, straighten it out except for a U-shaped hook at the end, go in the chicken house, select the chicken, then running the wire very close to the ground hook it around the leg of the chicken selected and pull it from the group by the leg. She would have scalding water ready from heating the tea kettle on the wood cook stove and a milk bucket ready. She would grasp the chicken by the head (usually a rooster, as we saved the pullets to lay eggs) and with a sharp crank wring its neck, or wring its head off. Then throw it out in the yard for it to flop and bleed so the blood would be gone from the meat, after which she put it in the milk bucket, poured the scalding water over it, soused it up and down as to be sure the wing tips and tail feathers got a good scalding without leaving the chicken in the water long enough to cook the skin. First, you pulled out all the big feathers because if they cooled it would be hard to get them out. After picking the feathers off we would singe the hair off.
I'm sending a vinegar pie recipe that was Gus Crumpler's mother's. Her name was Phebe Sue Dunlap Crumpler, born 1867, died 1933.
Phebe Dunlap's Vinegar Pie
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup vinegar
2/3 cup flour
Mix flour and sugar, then add nutmeg, water and vinegar, cook in a double-boiler until clear and thick. Pour into a previous baked pie shell and cover with meringue. Brown.
I dearly, dearly love the OzarksWatch and read it from cover to cover.
I have enjoyed reading the Fall, 1989 issue of OzarksWatch. Especially interesting to me was Dr. Flanders' essay, "Rememberance."
I grew up in the country. In addition to the smells mentioned by Dr. Flanders, I recall the fragrance of the apple orchard in full blossom; the aroma of the peony bed with its red and pink and white flowers always in bloom for Decoration Day; the way Mother's kitchen smelled when bread was baking on the black cookstove; the odor of the Traveler's Joy climbing on the trellis outside our beds on the sleeping porch in the summer; and the smell of the newly-mown hayfield.
I remember riding in the buggy to town; the productive vegetable garden; the tree house; neighbors helping each other; Gypsies; wild blackberries; bartering; the horse thief association; pie suppers; bird dogs and rat terriers; churning butter; company in the summer; fireflies and mosquitoes; and my father singing as he walked to the house with the full milk bucket.
I also recall the space around us; the depression years and the failed crops and grasshoppers; the trusty barometer by the back door; and our first Ford.
We children wished we could live in town sometimes, yet our friends in town were always eager to come to the country to visit.
In retrospect, I realize how little money we had. We were poor, but we didn't know it, for life was full of so many things that mattered.
Mary K. Howard
I thought people might be interested in the way sweet corn was prepared for winter use, seventy years ago. This was, of course, before the time of home freezers or even pressure cookers. I hated the process because I had to carry in the wood to keep the fire in the kitchen range going.
Corn was brought into the house early in the morning, cut off the cob, cooked, and packed boiling hot into jars. The tops of the jars were tightened and then carefully turned one-fourth turn back. They were then put into a washboiler, which had a home made wooden rack in the bottom. The water was brought to a full boil as rapidly as possible and kept at boiling for one hour. Sometimes additional water had to be added.
The boiler was taken from the fire and the corn was allowed to cool. This cooking and cooling process was then repeated on the second and third days. The jar lids were then tightened and the corn was stored in a dark place. The theory was that the intermittent cooking killed spores that might develop. The corn was quite tasty, but the food value that was left after such cooking is a big question.
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