BBD_log cabinOur great-grand folks were humble and poor,
In a little log cabin with cracks in the floor.
Carried their water up the hill from a spring,
In an old wooden bucket with a cup of tin.

Gathered in kindling from a brush path,
Handmade lights and saved their scarce match.
Behind every stove was a strong wooden box
Filled with dry wood, carried and chopped.

Close to the fireplace, warmed their shins,
Goose-pimpled back when the draft blew in.
Read Bibles and few books on cold winter nights
By a dim little blaze of a dim light.

Hunted for sport, a mess of wild meat,
Tanned the hides and a carcass to eat.
Knew every varmint by the print of his paw,
Tracked them down during the snow and spring thaw.

Children walked to school more than a mile,
Through drifted snow the wind had piled,
Struggled hard to get there and back,
With heavy feet wrapped in old feed sacks.

BBD_log cabin insideLoose straw bed that they stirred each night,
With homemade comforts tucked in tight.
Feather beds in each home and
Covers so heavy the body grew tired.

On a zero night when the water froze hard,
Caught rain in a tub,
On a hand board rubbed and scrubbed.
Up bright and early to get the stove hot,
Cooked beans in an old iron pot.

Boiled clothes in a kettle with ley soap,
No detergents, no bleach, no new fashion dope.
Dried them on weeds and on yard fence,
Old-fashioned folks were busy as bees.

Used the wash water to scrub their board floors,
With a straw broom swept it out the door.

Corn boiled in water with wood-made lye,
Made their hominy we now cheaply buy.
Their coffee strong, bitter and black
Roasted in ovens, then hand-mill cracked.

The old family cows made milk for the churn,
This tiresome chore each child took his turn.
Sliced peaches and apples, spread up high,
On a roof in the sun to wither and dry.

Cabbage and turnips buried in a hole
Safe from freeze of the water cold.
Gathered their dry beans in coffee sacks
Beat with a stick until the hulls cracked.
Cleaned by the wind from pan to pan
And carefully sorted each mess by hand.

Children’s toys were all handmade,
Two crotched limbs run for the sled,
Baby had spools threaded on a string,
A pie pan and stick to make it ring,

Flings and rag dolls with hand-painted face,
Slim hickory sticks made a fishing reel,
They could bend small trees for a pony ride,
Behind a clay ditch play hoop-in-hide.

Wade down the creek in summertime,
Old fashioned fun didn’t cost a dime.

Fuel was made with strong muscles and ax,
And tobacco free from state tax.

Raised all they ate, nothing refined,
Our great granddads had a hard time.

Old-time folks would borrow and lend,
A shovel of fire, anything to a settin’ hen.

Thinned their blood with sassafras tea,
Used skunk oil when cold and sneeze.

Broke leafy twigs to shoo out the flies
That crawled on the baby and made it cry.

Sad irons were heated on smoky cookstoves,
Rubbed clean on paper before ironing clothes
And before it touched the clean handmade sheets.
Baked their own bread, raised the food and sewed,
Each had his duties, each carried his load.

Butchered their hogs and rendered their lard,
Raised ducks and chickens in their backyard.

BBD_sorghumDried green beans on long strings of twine,
Made kraut in a barrel, corn also made in brine,
Raised sorghum cane, stripped off the leaves,
Squeezed out the juice by machine pulled by mule.
The sorghums cooked in a large pan,
For fritters, flapjacks, candy and cake.

We owe a great debt we can never pay,
To the Grand Ole Folks of yesterday.

— Author Unknown

I can’t take credit for the old time sentiments. I can’t credit the author either. I found this in an out of print 1979 book, Herb Walker’s Country Store. At the time of printing, the author was unknown also. All I know is that as many things as it seems we have to grumble about in today’s world, after reading these words, my life sure seems easy!


Flora Luper’s Christmases (Fayetteville Arkansas 1948-1952)

Flora Luper’s Christmases

floras diary Christmas dayFlora Cardwell Luper wrote in her diary. Every day. Religiously. Rain or shine. Working or choring around the house. Healthy or ill. She wrote; even on Christmas Day.

She celebrated many Christmases during the 82 years, 11 months and 15 days she spent on this earth. The only ones I know about were the ones from 1948 – 1952, the five years she wrote about in the diary that fell into my hands unexpectedly last summer.

Christmas Days for Flora, as is typical for most of us, were filled with family and friends. Christmas Eve’s, well, they mostly were. But sometimes, as her entry from 1951 shows, the day is filled with routine chores. “Al cleaned the barn out. I raked the yard.”

Here’s a little peek into Flora’s Christmas Days during this five year period.

For clarification, Al is Flora’s husband. Wade, Thord, Margie and Dot are their four children. Stug is their grandchild, Margie’s son. Some of the others are names often seen throughout her diary; many are fellow church members, some I haven’t discovered the relationships yet.

I spelled out Fayetteville, where in her diary Flora simply writes Fay. I kept the ‘to nite’ as she writes it.

As an interesting side note, their grandson, Stug (Stanley Wade Ludwig, born December 4, 1945) went on to be elected Springdale’s Municipal Court Judge – later renamed District Court Judge – where he served until his retirement in 2010.


December 24, 1948: Burl, Alice, Beulah brought Pearl & Joe, and granddad up to nite. Alice has a diamond from Bill.

December 25, 1948: Wade and Gala, Larry, spent the day with us. Brought us big box candy. Real pretty. We went to Mildred about 3 to see Joe, Pearl, Rich, Leslie. Thord came then. Cold.


December 24, 1949: Dot, Al & I went to Springdale. Then to Fayetteville. Cold. Wade, Gala, & Larry Maratha ate supper here. Then we went to the Xmas tree.

December 25, 1949: Al, Dot and I went to Rose Wilkerson’s home at 10. Came home. Went to the dam at 4. We went to Fayetteville. Caught ______ (undecipherable)


December 24, 1950: Thord came for gun. To hunt. Dot & Wayne came in a 3 PM. Wade’s came for dinner. Ham, chocolate pie, frozen strawberries, candy, apples, etc.

December 25, 1950: Grandad, Harold, C.A., Thord’s, Dot and Wayne all ate with us today. Wade came after noon. Jeff Banks came by. Joys’s and Loy’s. Dot gone.


December 24, 1951: Dark, cold, & gloomy this morn. Al cleaned the barn out. I raked the yard. Mildred & Carrie came.

December 25, 1951: Grandad ate Xmas dinner with Mildred. Ruth, Joan, Leslie & Frank came by. Dark. Gloomy. Misty.


December 24, 1952: No one wants to bed. No one wants get up. Larry son cute. M. & Al gone to work. Larry, Gala, Stug & I are here.

December 25, 1952: Thord & family, Wade’s & Margie were all here for Xmas. Had good time but missed Dot, Wayne & Stevie (?) Nice day.

However you end up spending your Christmas this year, be it filled with family or friends, or in more solitary pursuits, may your day be filled with love and blessings.

Merry Christmas!

Do you know any of these people? Do you have any stories about ‘the good ole days’ that you’d like to share? Contact Trisha Faye at texastrishafaye@yahoo.com

The Proper Way to Run a Household – 1932 Style

The Proper Way to Run a Household – 1932 Style

I’ve been doing it all wrong.

BBD_Quality cookbook coverBrowsing through a cookbook I discovered at an antique store, The Quality Cook Book (1932), I discovered that I haven’t been running my household properly.

The first chapter ‘The Art of Serving’ begins ‘In wealthy homes …” which may be the tip-off that this advice doesn’t apply to the majority of American homes. Especially in 1932. Most family stories and tales I’ve heard from older friends that experienced the post-depression years were not in the setting of ‘wealthy homes’. The accounts I’ve heard tell of a hand to mouth existence, where survival was the day to day goal.

But … assume for a moment, that we were in a ‘wealthy home’ in 1932. Here is the advice given.


A good maid is the most important part of the household, and her main qualifications are: Reliability, Cleanliness, Order, Speed, Good nature – and it is hard to say just which one of these can be more easily dispensed with. The maid, in an apartment of not more than seven rooms, and with no children to care for, is expected to

Keep the apartment clean Cook and serve meals Answer telephone Answer doorbell Wash and iron all fine lingerie, handkerchiefs and stockings.

The proper uniform for a maid is blue or gray percale in the morning, and black, or gray, with small white apron, collar, cuffs, and headband, after noon. She should wear lisle hose, and medium height plain oxfords.

The well trained maid observes a routine as scrupulously exact as that of any army private or hospital nurse. The house which is not run on a schedule is not well run. An experienced mail will welcome a well-planned working day, and with an inexperienced maid, a properly planned routine in invaluable. The following is suggested for a six-room apartment with two adults. Such a routine, typed and pinned over the kitchen sink, trains the maid with a minimum of effort and worry on her own and her mistress’ part.


BBD_Quality cookbook insideBreakfast, 7:45. Sweep living room with vacuum or carpet sweeper; dust; go over window sills with oiled or wet cloth depending on finish; wash ash trays; refill cigarette boxes; put fresh match boxes on tables.

9:00 – Clear breakfast table; sweep dining room; and dust. Sweep bedroom floor, strip beds, and leave, to air. Scrub bathroom floor, tub, and bowl, wash soap dish and all fixtures, hang fresh towels. Wash dishes, wash dish towels, boil, hang to dry. Make beds, dust bedroom, wash soiled hose, and hang to dry.

Luncheon – Prepare whatever food can be prepared in advance for dinner. Do dishes, scrub kitchen floor. This leaves remainder of day free for silver, cupboards, pressing, etc., until time to get dinner.


Monday – Clean ice box; polish silver; clean book shelves.

Tuesday – Clean stove; clean drawers.

Wednesday – Wash lingerie and iron. List laundry.

Thursday – Polish furniture. Go over all overstuffed pieces with Energine; clean ice box.

Friday – Clean closets; polish nickel.

Saturday – Clean shelves; wash all bulbs in electric fixtures; press dresses.

That’s our trip back in time for this week. Now, if you’ll excuse me – I’ve got some dishtowels to boil and some light bulbs to wash.

Do you know any of these women? Do you have any stories about ‘the good ole days’ that you’d like to share? Contact Trisha Faye at texastrishafaye@yahoo.com

New Fangled Fireless Cookstoves

BBD_caloric cook bookThe Caloric Book of Recipes is antique store find. This volume was published in 1910 by the Caloric Company, with earlier editions published by the former Caloric Fireless Cookstove Co. This little hardbound issue originally sold for fifty cents. My cost – about ninety years later – was $9.50.

I hold the volume and try to go back in time, picturing a housewife from these earlier days with her new fireless cookstove. This was ‘new technology’ in her day and I envision that she treasured the cook book that came with her newfangled stove. Nowadays, most of us have shelves full of cookbooks, some of us too many to count, with more recipes than we will ever make in our lifetime. I don’t believe housewives in the early twentieth century had that luxury.

Here are a few tidbits from the book.


The steatite radiators can be heated on gas, denatured alcohol gas, oil, electric, coal or wood stoves or ranges. Care should be taken in not allowing the plates to get red hot.

BBD_Caloric cook stoveThe time required to give the radiators the desired temperature is from seven to twenty minutes, depending, of course, on the size and intensity of the blaze used. The radiators are tested as one would test a sad iron. When using two radiators, for baking or roasting, a good way is to het both over one blaze, one above the other, changing them at intervals of about five minutes. About twenty minutes will heat both plates over a single blaze.

With very little trouble you can save considerable fuel and time in heating your radiators by keeping them moderately warm. In the summer time place the radiators out in the sun if convenient and they will then become very hot by only a few minutes heating over a flame. In the winter time they can be placed in the window where the sun will strike them or better still on the registers, steam or hot water radiators or on the back of your heater. By following this suggestion, you can save considerable fuel and trouble.

I think my favorite part of this section is “The radiators are tested as one would test a sad iron.” I guess I won’t be able to cook with one of these, as I don’t know how one would test a sad iron. I’ve never had the dubious pleasure of using one.

One resource stated, “It manufactured the Caloric Cooker, a “fireless cook stove” and precursor to modern day slow cookers. Imagine, a crock pot without electricity, dating clear back to 1903.

BBD_Caloric logoHere are two unusual cake recipes. One is for Sand Cake, which I admit I’ve never heard of. The other for a Soft Molasses Cake. Molasses Cake is not unusual, but what I found interesting was the ½ cup of pork grease used in it.

Sand Cake – Cream scant three-fourths cup of butter with three-fourths cup of sugar, add gradually yolks of four eggs, a little grated lemon rind and 1 ½ cups of very dry flour. Fold in the beaten whites of the four eggs. Put tin into Caloric, using both radiators according to directions. Bake ¾ hours.

Soft Molasses Cake – To one cup of New Orleans molasses and ½ cup of pork grease, add 1 teaspoonful of soda, 1 teaspoonful salt, ginger and cinnamon. Sift 4 cups of flour, then thin to a soft batter with cold water. Bake 35 minutes, using both radiators.

The cookbook had some HELPFUL HINTS at the end, which were quite interesting. What they had to do with cooking, I have no idea. Here are a few that give us clues as to the differences between life now and in the early 1900’s.

  • A teaspoon of flour of sulphur dissolved in hot milk and slowly sipped is very good in case of sore throat.
  • To preserve maps, brush over each a solution of gutta-percha, which is quite transparent. This may be applied to both sides.
  • Scatter a few drops of lavender in your bookcase before shutting it up for the summer and you will find no book mold.
  • Soak your new brooms in strong hot salt water before using them; it toughens the bristles and the broom will last longer.
  • Wash your challies in rice water made by using one pound of rice to five quarts of water, strain and cool.
  • Apply common mud to a bee sting and the pain will disappear.
  • Try cucumber peelings for cockroaches; they will act like poison to them.
  • Put a little turpentine in the boiler in which your clothes are boiled; it will whiten them.
  • Celery, eaten abundantly, is good for neuralgia.
  • To prevent flies from entering house brush the screen doors with kerosene.
  • If a drawer sticks, rub a little fresh lard on it.
  • Sprinkle the cellar often with chloride of lime and it will be kept free from rats.
  • If a little kerosene is added to the water in which you wash your windows the effect will be much brighter.
  • A few drops of kerosene added to the starch will make the ironing easier.
  • A piece of camphor kept with your silver will prevent it from tarnishing.
  • Kerosene poured down the sink and boiling water immediate after will clean out a stopped up drain pipe.
  • When you plant sweet peas, have them running north and south; they bloom better.

With or without a Caloric Fireless Cookstove – may your cooking and cleaning days be fun … and easier than in 1910.