For me growing up in Southern Ohio not so many years ago, brought to mind the old country tradition of families gathering on Sunday for a meal. I remember Sunday’s spent at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Sunday vittles. The whole family would gather on that day for a day of visiting and the best of all was Grannies fried chicken plus trimmings. Grandpa would mosey to the chicken coop early in the morning and pick out a couple chickens. They would be on the dinner table before the old tall clock struck one o’clock. Granny with the help of my aunts would cook a meal on that old wood burner cook stove in the kitchen. While the cooking went on the kids went off to play and the men folk would go out under the coolness of that big old willow tree, in the back of the house. They would whittle and swap stories and see who could tell the biggest whopper and swear that it was the truth. The talk included that of corn, vegetable gardens, and beef cattle; also how the tomatoes were doing. My Dad and Uncles would talk about their Army days with many stories. I had five Uncles and all but two had been in World War II.
My Granny and Grandpa had 13 children (7 Girls & 6 Boys) – quite a brood to raise and care for. I would hear about how each of the young-ins had chores to do – everyone had to work and that was it, no sass or off to the woodshed with you. At the time, I didn’t realize the era they lived in and of a family that lived off their hard work. They had lived through the depression with hardiness and the American spirit to persevere. Then as the forties approached my Dad and Uncles were slated to go off to a foreign land and fight a war that would shape history for decades to come. After the war the loving times returned and the boys came home and things became normal again. There was a housing boom and oh yes a baby boom, also. Let the good times roll and the American dream began. Some of the family ended up moving to the big cities and getting good paying jobs. The Sundays at Grandma and Grandpa’s started being less and less. The times were changing and so were the people – the simple life turned in to the fast track.
Instead of talking under that big willow tree – it became brief long distance phone calls and/or letters. Then once a year the family would have a reunion – about the only time to see cousins and uncles and aunts that lived out of town. There was always good food – especially grannies fried chicken, which eventually was turned over to my aunts as granny got up in years, (of course it was my Grannies recipe.) Times change and time marches on the days of the past disappear. For me, I sometimes go back to that time in my daydreams and smile. Something I’ll always have, all my days.
Thinking back to the sayings that were used is still with me. Sometimes I will quote old sayings, and younger folk will look and wonder whether or not they were true. Remember Mom saying, “Don’t run with scissors” or “You’ll put your eye out with that stick”, “I surely wanted to keep both of my eyes.” But there were a lot of others that made no sense to me then, but now they slip into my conversations. I remember my Grandpa ordering putting it in – “The boot” referring to the trunk of a car. How about hey grab the “Sweeper” referring to a vacuum cleaner. “Warsh” is just “wash” with style. Now for some of us we can remember going out back to the privy – or ye old “Outhouse.” I remember staying with my Grandpa and Grandma – and sleeping in that big old bed in the spare bedroom. Staring at the thing that looked like a big pot with a lid on top. What was it, I would ask myself? After getting up the gumption to ask Granny what it was for, she would explain, “Land sakes child, it’s a chamber pot, to do your business in.” I scratched my head and wondered, “What kind of business did she mean?” She then further explained – “that way you won’t have to go out to the outhouse in the night.” I understood! Yes, I was amongst old country living and true to their upbringing – no inside plumbing for them. I dreamed that night of my bathroom at home and that I only had to walk across the hall to get to it. I awoke the next morning to the whiff of ham, eggs, fresh baked biscuits and gravy. The thought of that pot in the corner of the bedroom, escaped my thoughts. The thoughts of that breakfast took its place. But after the meal was finished, off to the privy I went – one good thing at least it was daylight
Bob Boldman is a local historian. He can be reached by email: [email protected]