"THE BEULAH MAE & MARVIN O'DELL MC CLURE YEARS"
A Brush Arbor Church Meeting
Social life was rather limited while growing up, so we attended most of the
social functions, to include Brush Arbor meetings. These were outdoor
church revivals. The arbor was a pole framework, that was covered with
branches that still had the leaves on them for shade during the day. The
boys really enjoyed these meetings, if they didn't have to sit with their
parents. There were always some cute girls for the older boys to flirt
with. Most of the religious services were at night.
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Wedding Receptions - charivari/shivaree
Some of the newlyweds would have a shindig in the barn or house. Those that
didn't, later wished that they had, because a group (or perhaps, mob would
be a better word) of men and boys would wait patiently, close to the house
of the newly weds, until the lights went out. A short time later, all hell
would break loose, with the most horrendous noise being made by beating on
metal pots, pans, horns, cowbells or anything else that would make a lot of
noise. With everyone trying to outdo each other.
In this case the groom, Al Birchfield, did eventually acknowledge the
revelers, by opening the door, with his hair and clothes in a state of
disarray. He yelled,"What the Sam Hill (Hell) is going on out there?" He
thanked them all for stopping by while deep within his heart, would have
loved to have shot each and every one of them in a spot that would have
insured a slow and painful death. Lydia, (Sweet Toot) wisely refused to
come to the door.
The frightened and embarrassed bride generally stayed in the background, so
we rarely got to wish her long life, love, health and happiness. If the
wife could be enticed out of the house, they were both usually forced to
"ride the rail or coupling poll" for a short distance. A pole or 2 x 4 were
generally used for this purpose.
When brother Glen married, Jamie she being the inquisitive type came out of
the house to see what all of the hullabaloo was about. Now, don't get ahead
of me! But you are right, she and Glenn did have to ride the rail or
Some brides were wheeled around the outside of the house in a wheel barrow
by the groom. This was the charivari/shivaree that you have heard of. It
was a hoot-n-holler for everyone, except for the bride and groom.
When a couple separated or divorced, it was said that they had split the
sheet. Return to TOC
Halloween Back Then
Home wasn't big on "trick or treat" at Halloween, because the boys had
other devilment in mind. Many of the privy's (outside toilets) bit the dust
on this night, with someone infrequently falling into one of the pits or
being shot at.
Some of the businesses coated their windows with kerosene to discourage the
younger set from soaping them. Which was rather foolish because the windows
would have been easier to clean with just the soap on them.
The freight cart at the train depot could be found just about anywhere in
town the next morning. Even on top of the depot one Halloween. There was
always some property damage. One of Pop's expensive neon signs was
destroyed one year. Return to TOC
Swimming in the Rivers
We river rats did a lot of hitch-hiking to our favorite swimming holes at
Deckers', about three miles from home and in later years at the Hargrove
bridge (during the dog days of summer) which was about five miles from
We also hitched rides to the movies at Oglesville. We had no problem
getting there, but we frequently had to walk home. We always ran past the
cemetery, because the older boys would have us scared half to death with
scary tales before we arrived there.
The reason that we did most of our swimming at Deckers when we were younger
was because the stream was more shallow and not nearly as swift or as wide
as Black River.
The river at Hargrove Bridge had a beach on one side and a bank ten or
twelve feet high on the other side that we used for diving. With a long run
a boy could fairly sail out over the water. Tommy Culbertson, Glendell
Glass and I almost drowned here when we were six or seven. We had formed a
daisy chain and stepped into a hole as we walked into deeper water.
Glendell could swim, but Tommy and couldn't even dog paddle and were not
going to drown without taking Glendell with us. Fortunately one of the
grown men waded in and pulled us all to shore.
One of the funniest sights that I've ever seen occurred one day that Lola,
Margaret and Guy Scott's daughter, took Claudie and I swimming at Decker's.
Their oldest son, Red joined us shortly after we arrived and started
pestering Lola almost immediately as she tried to walk Claudie across the
creek by supporting him on her extended arms. Realizing that he would
continue this harassment as long as we were there, she decided to take us
home. On the way out, she picked up Red's straw hat and ripped the brim off
of it as cool as a cucumber and walked on as if she did something like this
every day, without breaking stride. We were about half way home when we
heard a car coming. Thinking that this might possibly be Red, we quickly
hid behind Kirt Adkins garage, until the car had passed. We all cracked up
when we peeked out and saw him barreling down the road in his car with the
top cut off wearing just the crown of his straw hat perched on the top of
his head. This was Red's concept of a convertible.
Booger and I rode our bicycles to Deckers for a swim. Carefully locking our
bicycles to prevent the Deckers from riding them. When we returned from our
swim our bicycles were wired together in many places and all of the Deckers
were on the front porch to watch the show. The parents had seats front row
center. This was probably the funniest sight that they had ever seen in
their entire lifetime. They had certainly put their heart-n-soul into
making it as difficult as possible. After taking the wires apart by hand we
would have given just about anything for a pair of pliers at this point in
our young lives. It was so embarrassing that we never went there to swim
again. This wasn't nearly as funny as the hat incident. To be honest, I've
never seen any humor in it. So ole Red Decker got his revenge, after all. I
wish that I had sent Lola back to clean his clock. (whip him)
For some unknown reason Lola took me under her wing, even though she was
several years older. On another outing we challenged a bull in a large
field east of town. When Lola realized that the bull was going to over take
us she headed for an old steam engine that had been part of a sawmill many
years before. After running our little hearts out she quickly opened the
firebox at one end of the engine and tossed me in and then vaulted in
herself. We were forced to stay there until the bull lost interest in us.
On the way out of the field I stepped on a large snake. Fortunately it was
a hot summer day and the snake was lethargic, (loggie) so he just ignored
us. Believe me, Lola didn't have to pull me after I stepped on that snake.
My feet seemed to sprout wings. On another occasion a snake slithered out
of a spring that we were drinking from. Lola used to put on black-face and
do minstrel shows when we visited them in the woods north of town.
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Box Suppers and Cake Walks
We had box suppers, pie suppers, and cake walks generally as fund-raisers
for school or churches. I won Granny Mc Kay's pie at one of these socials
and she didn't want to share it with me, so I got to take the whole pie
home with me. This was when pies were cut four ways (quartered). At this
pie supper, Red Glass (Red gave Dewey Piatt a close run when it came to
humor) would say another soul was made happy, each time someone won a pie.
Everyone had a good time at the church socials, if for no other reason than
all of the good food that people brought for a picnic/dinner on the ground.
Raisin pie was my favorite. Return to TOC
Foods We Ate and Liked
Most people ate a lot of beans, potatoes and chicken was always reserved
for Sunday, during the depression era. The wishbone was never tossed out
with the rest of the scraps until two people had vied for the larger
portion of the wishbone, with their hands under the dining room table. That
entitled the winner to one undisclosed wish. If a person revealed the wish,
it wouldn't come true. And I believe that! Glenn said that we ate a lot of
hog hock and hominy. (he would also tell us to "dive in and don't look up"
when the food was ready to be eaten)
Chickens Were Bought Live At The Grocery Store
We always bought the chickens at the Red and White while they were still
alive and it was generally my job to wring its neck. Infrequently, I wasn't
able to wring the chicken's neck. If so, pop would have to do it. He would
say, "Aw shit Charles, can't you wring that old buzzards neck?" Then he
would show me how . He would say that I was weak'ern (why can't we make
words like this anymore) than a popcorn fart. I don't know where Glenn was
when I needed him. Probably in the tavern watching us, giving thanks that it
wasn't him and laughing his head off. A person had to move fast when the
chickens head came off, because the chicken would flop all around on the
ground with it's life blood squirting in all directions. We never cut their
head off. Pop thought that I needed the experience and besides it was good
exercise. It didn't take us long to get rid of the chicken head after we got
far enough away from the poor confused chicken. Plucking the feathers was a
job that everyone detested. The chicken was first submerged in a bucket of
hot water to help loosen the feathers, before plucking them. The odor of wet
feathers is almost as bad as the odor of a wet dog. Then the hair was singed
off of the plucked bird. It would have been wise and much easier if we had
skinned them, but everyone still ate the skin at this time. Granny also ate
the skin, flesh or what ever from the feet of chickens. I could never see
that there was anything there to eat and wouldn't have wanted to, even if I
could. Then the chicken had to be gutted and cut up, which was responsible
for more than a few nicks and cuts to the hands.
Squirrels - Rabbit and Opossum
Pop and Glenn were good cooks. Pop would ask a hunter to bring him rabbits
and squirrels a number of times each year. He always ordered at least one
squirrel for each person because at this time we still cracked the skull
and ate the brains, which wasn't enough to fill a persons hollow tooth. No
one does this anymore, due to the possibilities of rabies. He also baked an
opossum with sweet potatoes most years and we did keep eating opossum
(possum) till we could eat "No-mo."
Other Good Things Pop Cooked
Pop also prepared scrambled eggs with pork brains a few times a year. Glenn
was a fry-cook and if it couldn't be fried, he didn't want any part of it.
He was the flapjack king. Not only could he flip the pancake over in the
skillet. He would flip it into our plate, when we held it out for the next
pancake. We always made redeye (sawmill) streaked gravy, by adding a little
liquid coffee to the fried ham drippings. It had a great flavor and did
wonders with a biscuit.
One of my favorite fast foods was called a chili-side which was an open-
faced hamburger with chili ladled over it. My all time favorite dish is
oyster stew. Claudie and I would have starved if the can opener had never
been invented. He could heat a mean can of tomato soup to go with his ever-
loving cheese bubbles. I couldn't boil water without scorching it. So I
stayed with something reasonably safe like warming a can of corned beef
hash. I was a whiz at making sandwich cookies.(with graham crackers, pet
milk and powered sugar) Everything else we cooked tasted like yesterday's
Mountain Oysters and how to prepare them
Glenn would scrounge mountain oysters during butchering time and would
skin, score them and leave them in salt water over night. The next day he
would slice them and fry them to perfection for a delicious feast.
Bread was always called light bread, milk was sweet milk, sweet corn was
roasting ears and we all enjoyed wilted lettuce and fried green tomatoes.
Wilted Lettuce is made by using "loose leaf lettuce, chopped, chopped fresh
onions, salt to taste, and bacon drippings piping hot poured over this
Here is a couple of old recipes. Chocolate gravy, two heaping tea-spoons of
cocoa, 1 cup of sugar, 1 heaping tablespoon of flour, pinch of salt-----mix
in skillet, then add a cup of cold milk. Cook until it thickens, then add a
cap of vanilla. It was like eating chocolate pudding over a biscuit.
Butterscotch pudding/pie filling:
slowly heat a cup of sugar until it melts, add a small can of milk, two
cups of water and slowly add flour until it reaches the proper consistency.
The butterscotch taste comes from the sugar being slightly scorched.
Return to TOC
The Wood Cook Stove and Ice Box
The cook-stove had a warmer above the stove to keep biscuits and other
foods warm. All of the food was refrigerated in the icebox the first few
years that we lived in Qulin. The ice was ordered by placing a card in the
window. Each of the four sides had a different color and the color that was
top side indicated the amount of ice that the person was ordering for that
day. YEP!! no refrigerators then, only ice to keep the food fresh.
The kitchen was the second most popular room. Not only for all of the food
that was prepared there, because it was the only other room with any heat
and where we took our bath in the wash tub. The wood cook stove had a
reservoir on the side of the stove next to the firebox. That only held a
few gallons of water and it took quite awhile to heat it. So this may be
the reason that we took so few baths, in such small quantities of water. At
any rate, that is the excuse that I used and I'm sticking with it! I still
snicker whenever I think of Claudie taking his bath in that grungy water.
Talk about tough times! This is when anyone could have shown you how poor
people live. Mostly on a smile and a shoe string. (from hand to mouth)
Everyone had to be more resourceful and self reliant. Most of us agree that
we wouldn't want to go back to that life style, but we feel that today is
more bearable because of "those good ole days".
In 1903 The average life expectancy in the US was forty-seven
In 1903 the average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
(c) Taken from: "My Memories," written to my children, nieces & nephews. Charles McClure in Owasso, Oklahoma
|(c) and Contributed by: Charles McClure|
(c) All material contained on this site (within this document) is the work of Charles McClure.
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