BREAKFAST TIME! Dad made this call every morning when we were children. In response to his call, eight sleepy heads bounded to the table to eat. Seated at each end of the table were Mom and Dad, and at each corner of the table were Clemons and Carol. Carol had a white high chair and Clemons a brown one. Near the outside wall were Carol, Gene, who sat on the window sill much of the time, Georgia Mae (standing) and Juanita. On the inner side of the table were Clemons, Vernon, Jewell Dean and Homer Lee.
EVERY CHILD AT THE TABLE: My earliest memories of Orus, Otis and Ellis are when they were in the army and navy. I can't remember Elva living at home, but I remember her family coming often to visit. Every child was at the table when the food arrived. Who knows how long Mom had been in the kitchen preparing the food! Coffee, milk, biscuits, sausage, gravy, eggs (we didn't know about cholesterol), oatmeal, jams, jellies and syrup are foods Mom prepared for our morning meal. If we had company, which we often did, she served country ham and fried chicken. I remember Uncle Bradley and Aunt Lillie visiting and spending the night.
A FIRE IN THE COOKSTOVE AT DAWN: Although this was rare, I can remember having rabbit and squirrel. Descendants of Mae Bundy, can you imagine rising at dawn, building a fire in the wood cookstove, going to the brooder house to get a chicken, killing the chicken, plucking the feathers, cutting it in just the right pieces? Best of all, she made biscuits from scratch. Can you imagine? I'm remembering that this food was so wonderful. However, our way of having Cheerios and cornflakes is much simpler! Think about this in comparison to today's meal gatherings for
breakfast. Do any of you have breakfast with your family or do you even eat breakfast? I'm astonished that we all ate together every day. How did they motivate us? These old sayings come to mind: "If you snooze you lose", "Too little too late", "Now or never", and "The early bird gets the worm". There was always an abundance of food, but once the meal was over, the food was all gone, saved, or put in the slop bucket for the pigs. There was no grazing in the kitchen after the meal. Herein lays the answer to their motivating tactics.
MID-DAY DINNER: We gathered at our next meal for mid-day dinner with the same seating arrangement. Once again we had a bountiful meal of Mom's best: fresh or home canned vegetables, cornbread (again we had not heard of the dangers of cholesterol), usually a fresh berry cobbler or cake. We sometimes had fish that had been caught from the pond or river.
SKINNING THE CAT: After dinner we would rest, especially the men, as they tried to catch a few snoozes before going back to work. They would stretch out on the ground under the huge maple tree in the front yard. They did not rest much because this was the time when we decided to be aggravating younguns, or a confounded (annoying) bunch of younguns that would not let a man sleep! We ran, played and skinned cats on the pear tree near the tree under which they were trying to snooze! (Skinning a cat was doing flips on a tree limb.)Then back to work we all went.
OUR SNACK WAS POPCORN: Evening was the cook's time to do something else. Mom probably did laundry, as I am sure she did not take a nap. We had to find our own supper. Usually we had leftovers, with cornbread and milk, not reduced fat but milk straight from the cow. We had no idea about the fat count. On rare occasions, we had a treat. Dad would bring home a bag of bread from the bakery and we had light bread and milk. I thought it was wonderful. Our snack for the night was popcorn.
RATION STAMPS IN MOM’S TRUNK: I was born in 1943 during World War II. Following the war, some grocery items were rationed. We found ration stamps in Mom's trunk. We could only buy so much sugar and coffee. We were self-contained except for those items. Our livestock, poultry, fish, garden, fruit trees, corn field, cane patch. and wheat crop provided our food.
OUR WHEAT WAS GROUND INTO FLOUR: Our wheat was ground into flour, thus those delicious biscuits! The wheat was stored at a mill in town, and we got flour as needed throughout the year. We shelled white corn and took it to a mill to be ground into cornmeal and chicken feed. This provided cornmeal for corn pone as Dad called cornbread. Mom made hominy from Hickory Cane corn.
PORK WAS OUR MEAT, SOAP, GARBAGE DISPOSAL: Pork was our meat, lard, cracklings, soap and garbage disposal. Cows provided milk, butter and buttermilk. We raised chickens for meat and eggs. I think I remember eating guinea. We raised turkeys to eat and also to sell. We never
ate duck meat. We did not eat beef until later years when we had refrigeration.
BUSHELS OF PEACHES: Fruit trees provided apples, pears, plums, cherries and some peaches. We bought peaches from trucks which came through from farther south. Dad would buy ten bushels at a time. This was definitely a family project as we all peeled peaches, working on our fine motor skills! Mom was busy in the kitchen canning for days. They surely made good cobblers! Descendants, how would you handle such a chore?
MOLASSES AND “JOFOAM”: We grew cane to be made into molasses. Dad hired Frank Hibbard from Clay County to cook the molasses. We children ate "jofoam" that formed on top of the molasses while they were being cooked in a pan about 12-feet long. We got it by sticking a piece of cane in the pan. We had to be very careful, as the molasses were boiling hot.
NEIGHBORS GATHERED FOR MOLASSES: We had the neighborhood molasses making operation. Neighbors would bring their cane to our operation to be processed. We sometimes had a social event when the neighbors came to help us strip the cane to prepare it for making molasses. We made toughjack candy by cooking the molasses in a heavy skillet, and Mom used molasses in cookies and stack cakes.
WHICH GREENS WERE SAFE TO EAT: Walnuts, hickory nuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, blackberries, dewberries, pawpaws, service berries and persimmons were gathered from the wild. Mom knew which greens were safe to eat. She picked poke and dandelion greens and we grew mustard greens, turnips, cabbage and lettuce. We had grape vines from which we canned lots of juice for pies, and the juice was a special treat when we were feeling "under the weather". Cushaws, cantaloupes, watermelons and pumpkins were planted in the cornfield rows.
OUR VEGETABLE GARDEN: Our vegetable garden was an all summer project. We began in early spring with green peas, black eyed peas, onions, rhubarb (a perennial), potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, beans (bunch greasie, half runner, pink ones, and pole), cucumbers, peppers, peanuts,, beets, carrots, tomatoes, okra and popcorn.
SHE JUMPED THE FENCE: A garden memory I will share, with Carol's permission, involves the harvest. She was picking beans and saw a snake when she pulled the vines back to get the beans. She threw her bucket and ran. The fence around the garden was usually in good shape. She jumped the fence, cleared the thing, and landed flat footed on the other side. I was so impressed with her skills. I've heard that fear speeds up the adrenaline!
IN THE GARDEN: As we worked in the garden, different work ethics were obvious. Juanita was the careful one. She would often pat around the plants after she chopped the weeds. Everything had to be just right! I had very little interest in presentation. She often threatened to mark my rows so I would have to hoe the same rows the next time.
THE STRAWBERRY PATCH: We spent many hours in the strawberry patch, picking off the blooms the first year, chopping weeds and picking the berries. Once we were chopping weeds beside the red barn. Jewell Dean always wore long sleeves and a bonnet for protection from the sun.
Trying to aggravate her, I grabbed her bonnet and sailed it over the hill. I guess I made my point as she still remembers and tells the story!
WE ALWAYS REPLANTED CORN: We always replanted corn if there was not a single grain that did not germinate. Once Lee, Jewell Dean, Gene, Juanita and I were replanting in the bottom next to the river and decided we would bury our corn and go swimming in the river. We were caught when the corn came up in a big bunch. I would say our cognitive skills were lacking there!
FOOD ALWAYS READY FOR DROP-INS: When her children were married with families of their own, Mom could have cut back on her cooking. She didn't. Food was always found on the stove ready for drop-ins. Of course, knowing the good food was there just for the eating, who could resist! We never felt we had to make a reservation when we were going to visit. It was almost as if she could sense we were coming.
BANANA PUDDING FOR PAUL: She always made banana pudding for Paul. If she did not have bananas or cookies, she sent us to Porter's store to shop. Carol's daughter, Erin, tells how Mom made macaroni with tomato juice for her sister Ashlie and saved cheese packets from boxed macaroni for her because she knew Erin preferred cheese. Mom's macaroni with tomato juice and sausage was certainly a favorite with the grandchildren.
DAD INVITED THE PREACHER: Dad often invited the preacher and others to come home with them for lunch after church, unannounced. Mom did not seem to mind. Descendants, how would you handle this? We children had mixed emotions about these visits, as we had to wait until the grownups had eaten before we could eat!
SHE HARDLY NEEDED A COOKBOOK: Mom would have been very proud of our efforts in compiling this cookbook. However, she hardly needed a cookbook. With her vast cooking experience, most of her recipes were memorized.
MOM SMILED: Carol tells of asking Mom if we knew anyone who was poor. Mom merely smiled. Mom was wise. We did not have much money, but we were rich!