OUR GRANDPARENTS AND GREAT GRANDPARENTS
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.
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.
Dried 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!