Oh, to return once more to the days when…

Posted by | November 25, 2016

“Oh, to return once more to the days when they made real country sausage and souse meat! Where grandpa and grandma smoked their long-stemmed clay pipes and would light them by dipping a live coal from the old fireplace.

clay pipe“Let’s go into the big house and sit by the fire and see the old-fashioned dog-irons and the wrought iron shovel and tongs made in the country blacksmith shop. Did you ever see your granddaddy heat the old shovel on a bitter, cold day and hold it in front of the old clock to thaw out the oil in the old timepiece so it could go on tickin’ off the hours?

“I would like to help grandma fill the lamps with oil or ile carried from a country store in a can with an Irish tater stuck in the spout, and watch her trim the wicks so the lamps would glow more evenly. I want to eat some food cooked on an old step-stove, sweet taters baked in an oven on the hearth over hickory and red-oak coals. It would be a welcome sight to see some of the womenfolks swing the fly brush to keep the pesky devils offen’ the table. Right here, it might be said that a family rated according to the kind of fly brush it had. The very poor used a limb, cut from a mulberry tree, and the middle class had one cut out of newspapers, and the upper crust had one made of peafowl’s tail. That family rated, and rated high, brother!

iron cookstove 1890s“I want to go back where all the common, everyday towels were made of salt sacks, and where there was only one store towel which was put out only when the preacher came. I want to see the man of the house take his table knife of chilled steel and whet it on the tines of his fork before he carved the sow-belly that had been cooked with the beans. Did you ever eat any lye hominy or shuck beans? If not, you have never really lived…you have merely existed!

“I want to see the housewife reach into the salt gourd and get a pinch or two or salt to season the beans and taters, which were usually cooked by hanging on a hook in the fireplace to conserve stove wood. And who has not seen the home-made soap in the terrapin’s shell soap dish on the wash bench just outside the door?

“I want to go back to the time when all the shoe boxes were saved to make splits for the womens’ bonnets. Remember ‘em?

“I would like to once more watch apple-butter being made in those huge old, brass kettles, where the long handled stiring wooden ladle never stopped, and that bubbling pot of apple-butter gave off an aroma that I haven’t smelled since, nor can it be expressed in words on paper.

“I want to spend Christmas in the old way once more and get from the Christmas tree, one stick of candy, one orange, and one penny pencil. The rich ones gave their children a French harp and the night was filled with music and the cares that infested the day folded their tents like Arabs, and silently stole away.

“I want to go back.”


–excerpted from
Too Late For Flowers
Never Too Late For Tears
By Roy L. Sturgill

Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia, published by the Historical Society of Southwest Virginia, Publication 12, 1978

appalachia appalachian+history appalachian+mountains+history Historical+Society+of+SW+Virginia Old+Christmas

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