Volume 2, Number 5, Fall 1965
I am reminded of the "good Old Days" when father, driving two big fat horses to the wagon, took all the family to the field to plant the spring crop. His wife sat with him in the spring seat. The children rode in the back, singing Irish songs. The Hired Man had gone on with the old plow horse to start laying off the rows. The women dropped the grains of corn in the row; the men covered the seed with a hoe. A good dropper could keep two hands covering. The one that covered was supposed to step on each hill.
In about ten days two tiny shoots appear. In ten days more it was ready to be cultivated. That was an all summer job.
About ten oclock mother went to the house to prepare dinner. At 11:30 all were loaded in the wagon and made for the house. The horses were fed in the barn and they were ready for their noon meal. The good wife had prepared corn pone, fried meat, potatoes and butter fresh from the cedar churn. We could have our choice of sweet or buttermilk.
When they had finished their meal the men and boys had a game of horseshoes while the women cleared the table. At one oclock all were ready for the field and were there until the sun dropped over the horizon. Back in the wagon they sang merry songs, glad the days work was well done.
Supper was usually "crum in." That is corn bread crummed in sweet milk. Then came the chores and everyone retired.
Rainy days were the time for getting the farm tools sharpened and repaired. My dad was the blacksmith on our farm. I have pumped the old leather bellows until my legs would ache. If a hot iron needed to be held while he cut some off, that was my job.
There was one time I will never forget. Father cut off a piece of iron about one inch square. I had on high top boots. That red hot piece went down my shin bone, burning a blister as it went down. I went jumping up and down and hollering. It hurt so bad I could not tell him what had happened. Father noticed the smoke coming out of my boot top. He grabbed the boot and brought it off with the iron. The scars are still on my shin to prove the accident.
The girls would push the dasher up and down in the churn to make the butter come. The butter was for breakfast. The milk for dinner. Buttermilk was not served for morning time, it was for dinner. The old folks had coffee in the morning. The children were told that coffee would make them black and stunt them from growing.
My mother made our bread, too. She got a big pan, put flour in it. Made room with her hand for milk and shortening. That is, she poured in the milk with the hog grease. She stirred it in with the other hand until it was stiff enough to put on the rolling board. She patted it down flat. Then she took the rolling pin and rolled it out thin. With a biscuit cutter she cut it in pieces, the size she wanted. She took down a bread pan, greased it to keep the bread from sticking to the bottom of the pan. She used buttermilk and soda. In fact, buttermilk was always used for making bread. Very little soda was used in making corn bread. Eggs were used instead. I knew a few old timers who used only salt and water in corn bread. They said it was sweeter that way. Some folks didnt have a cook stove. They used a Dutch oven. It was made like a big skillet with four legs and a lid to put hot coals on. An old stick and clay fireplace furnished heat for the room and coals for the cooking. They raked a bed of coals mixed with ashes out on the hearth. Placed the oven on them, put in the batter, covered the bread with the lid and put coals on it. In about 20 minutes the bread was ready for the old homemade table. While the bread was cooking, a pot filled with either hog or beef that had been boiled tender, was hanging on a hook.
The meat was placed on a big platter in the center of the table, with a wooden fork made by the man of the house. The mother would put the meat on the tin plates and pass it around to the family and to their company if they had any. Beans and potatoes were also boiled in the pot that hung over the blaze. A strip of iron was fastened to the jam to hang the cooking utensils on.
If the family was not too large they had just one room. The furniture was homemade. The bedsteads were made by mortising a piece in the stead and placing the rail through it. Then it was corded with half inch rope both ways. It made a good easy bed. If the rope got loose you would roll to the middle. You might wake up on top of your bedfellow. Those were the good old days.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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