Remember how it was where your grandaddy and grandmother lived? Picture a house with a screened-in back porch, a well or cistern and storm cellar. Mama Johnson always had a lot of plants like ivy and sweet potato plants. Outside would be big roses, trumpet vines and castor beans. It was cool in the cellar and canned goods were down there, usually peaches, peas, corn and green beans.
Something was always going on there at their farm. In the spring they were planting a garden and maybe painting the house or barn. In the summer they were working in the garden, shelling peas or cutting corn off the cob, and later canning or gathering fruit out of the orchard. During the growing season there were crops to plow and hoe or feed to cut and put up. Usually a cow or two that had to be milked and milk pen cows for us to pet, rope or try to ride. Eggs had to be gathered every day and chickens fed and shut up for the night. Sometimes there were guinea hens and maybe a pea fowl.
A smokehouse was out back somewhere, with the smell still lingering from long ago use. Nearby there might be a wash house and a windmill. The water holding tank might be on the tall legs that could be closed in so there would be a shower bath plumbed into the bottom of the tank. It didn’t take long to take a shower in there with lots of cold tank water.
Wintertime meant onions hanging on the back porch and the quilting frames set up in an empty bedroom.
Mama Johnson was always cooking something--beans, peas, turnip greens or dumplins and fried pies or cobblers. Does anyone remember women who started tomato plants in hot boxes, wore sunbonnets and saved string?
If you know of a “place” like this now that you can go by sometime, you might want to do it soon. They’re going away in a hurry.
P.S. I looked at the tape from the grocery store the other day. Printed on there was 1 apple, $1.73, 1 onion, 98 cents and 1 potato, 73 cents. A long list of such could be sobering. A look into the pending all (oil) boom predicts red beans will be a dime apiece and “surp” 30 cents a sop.
Stan Johnson lives and works in Nolan County. Comments about this column can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org .