They Made It Could We?
Some of the finest ears of field corn were "nubbed" and put through the corn sheller in the barn, taken to the mill, and ground into meal for cornbread and mush. (Hominy was also made from corn.) The dark, sweet smelling pantry under the stairs always had strings of red peppers, sage, dill, marjoram, sassafras roots and bark, and various bags of seeds hanging there. Also great sacks of onions, pickles in brine, and sweet potatoes.
I remember going to the root cellar in the yard with my young aunts on autumn Sunday when Grandma had company. Stamped on my mind are the many jars of fruit, vegetables, pickles, jams and jellies - the well filled potato bins, the big shelves of pumpkins, winter squash, carrots and turnips in baskets of clean sand, and bags of onions hanging from hooks in the ceiling. We then went into the smokehouse above the cellar to cut thin slices of ham from a brown-paper-wrapped sugar cured ham. Besides the cured pork there was corned beef in a covered twenty-gallon stone jar, as well as sacks and baskets of nuts, more onions and peppers, herbs, and more pumpkins to be used before they froze. The squash, pumpkins, and onions had a heavy piece of old carpet spread over them. Apples were in the garden in straw-lined pits.
Grandmother loved flowers, also, but feeding her family always came first. She was, of necessity, a very practical person. All along the base of the house she grew flowers. All the flowers about the house were mulched. I never remember any bare ground showing unless she dug to give one of her "girls" a start of some beloved perennial.
A wide porch extended the full length of the south and west sides of the white house. She had the boys put up strips of chicken wire at intervals from ground to eaves. She trained woodbine and wild morning glories up these wires until, by hot weather, the porch was a cool, shaded oasis much used by all with time to rest. Metal cots and homemade benches and chairs were used by young and old. The older children gave the porch floor a fresh coat of paint every two years. Many happy hours were spent on this porch, helping hull peas, snap beans, hull green butter beans, look over and wash wild or tame greens, or stem gooseberries.
Two big silver maples shaded the south yard; a beautiful spreading ash, the wed yard. A rope swing hung from the limb of the ash. Family reunions on Sunday afternoons in summer will never be forgotten by the grandchild.
Next to the high back fence of the yard, Grandma had a three-foot-wide flower bed with a two foot wire fence in front to keep the big collie dog from lying in the flowers. At the farthest corner she grew her perennial vegetables - asparagus, rhubarb hills, and horseradish, sage, dill, and other herbs here and there through the flowers. The flowers I remember were bleeding heart, phlox, purple iris, white lilies, tiger lilies, peonies, self-sown larkspur, poppies, four-o"clocks, sweet rocket, French marigolds, and a few wilding. Violets grew as a ground cover in spite of the mulch.
Thinking back, I know I gained a rich heritage from visiting my grandparents. I feel so sorry for my own nine grandchildren when they visit us, and it is necessary to say, "Don't go in the street! Don't get in the neighboring yard!" I try to provide entertainment for them, but my heart aches for what they are missing.
My grandparents made a living for a big family on eighty acres. Could it be done today?
After reading this article again, I am reminded, that I am married to one of those grandchildren she mentions in the last paragraph. I wish we could tell her that her worries were in vain, as several of those grandchildren have a connection with the land around them. We are passing down that love of the land to her great grandchildren, teaching them about God's great creations, such as birds, flowers, trees, animals, etc.... She has left her mark on her family that she will never know about.
~Until next time,