Page Seven

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.
    Return to TOC

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
    coupling pole.

    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.
 Return to TOC

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.

Fast Food
    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

Chocolate Gravy:
    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.

Before Welfare
    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

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