Washington County, Illinois

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  A series of articles written by :
Wilbert "Bucky" McCoy for :
Ashley News
( Ashley, Illinois )
Box 0184
DuQuoin, IL 62832

By Bucky McCoy ©

How did you make any money seventy five years ago and how much was a lot of money? I will list a few in these items that is difficult for the younger generation to believe. While they come to mind I will mention them. Fuller Brush Man. He came knocking on your door with his wares and I believe he gave a small inexpensive brush to listen to his sales pitch. He carried a small supply with him, so you could choose. Brushes were inexpensive and he sold some making a very few pennies for his work. He would take an order for some of the more expensive ones. To visit all the houses it would take several days.

The broom man visited our house once a year. He had a rack made that carried twelve brooms. Come to think of it he was blind and had a helper to guide him. He did the pushing of the brooms. Brooms were of high quality and the price was very reasonable. He would tell a house wife to use the broom with care and it would last until he returned next year. One thing was to soak the broom straw in hot water and to turn the broom while sweeping to let it wear evenly. Women had three brooms from extra good to rather poor used to scrub porches and walks. This broom was dipped in Lye water and it was always yellow. The middle broom was used for outside dry work. Sweeping down the out side of the house and all dry places.

Remember the Raliegh man? Many people could not have survived with out the wares he peddled. I have heard in this era by some old time cooks say these words, "I wish I had some Raliegh Vanilla Extract." Farmers just had to have the big tin of Raliegh salve. It was a very good ointment for man or beast. I have heard farmers say they carried the best liniment they ever saw. The very best where a horse collar rubbed the horse. "It heals quick." I heard farmers say. Some few fudged a little bit and made a drink from it for summer stomach ailments.

There was a man who resided in the Ashley area and he was a chicken man. He sold medication for chickens. Some for illness, some made them better layers and he would cull or sort your laying hens. He would purchase the culls for your convenience. I have heard it said "He is the best I ever seen."

Egg production may have been up, but I have seen many ten cents a dozen eggs. Grocery stores traded food stuffs for eggs. We had in town seventy five years ago three places called poultry houses that bought eggs and bought chickens. Chickens were four cents a pound for old roosters. Many a house wife sold chickens and eggs to get some needed food stuffs for winter. This one laid in 1200 pounds of flour and three hundred pounds of sugar. She said that flour milled in February would never have bugs in it. There was not much cash around and most of needs for a house hold were traded for. Jobs were almost impossible to find.

I mowed yards that people pay for mowing the price of 25 dollars and I mowed the same yard with a push type reel type mower for twenty five cents and did trimming, walk, sweeping and I usually used their mower. I had to clean the mower to the look of newness after finishing. I might add that the requirement was to double mow. Seldom could it be done in four hours. I mowed smaller yards for fifteen cents and these yards had high grass for they were not mowed every week and most times the grass had to be raked and carried to the cow lot. Nothing was wasted. Those were the days of almost poverty. Nothing was wasted. A use was found for every thing.

By Bucky McCoy ©

Last winter I made several trips to Gulf Shores. I live about 45 miles from the Gulf. I stopped in South Alabama for food and the café was the home of the Throwed Rolls. I find it hard to find much better eating especially when they bring around the half gallon of Sorghum Molasses. It cuts down on the appetite and there is so much food you can't eat it all. I buy a half gallon to bring home.

Nothing like the Sorghum that was made in these parts. I remember the family that did making Sorghum west of Ashley. You could buy a gallon at a reasonable price The time was 75 or 80 years ago. Ten years ago Bill said, "I still got one of those Sorghum pans." Maybe I can remember a bit about their Sorghum Mill.

My father said, "Never want to run out of 'lasses in the winter time." Later in the season Dad would buy five gallon. It seemed to be much thicker. In real cold weather it was next to impossible to get it out of the pail with out warming it. We always had a syrup pitcher on the kitchen table. Molasses was good on anything.

Many families raised a patch of Sorghum Cane and would haul it to the mill and pile it and put their name. Many days Sorghum cane was from different people.

This cane had to be hand stripped of all its' leaves. Cut a special way and the seed heads were removed. They were saved and the chickens enjoyed picking around on them. There was a lot of good eating for them

When cane was planted in the spring every thing had to be just right. Cane likes rich and sandy loam and it grew well. It was cultivated each week and not a weed could be found. Stalks grew large and contained a lot of juice. This plant seemed to enjoy hot weather. People checked it by cutting a stalk and giving I to children and they enjoyed the taste. It was carefully watched and was cut at an exact time.

The day arrived to take it to the mill. Piled on the wagon and several went along because some help need be furnished. Each stalk was fed into a juice extractor that was pulled by a mule. He walked slowly in a circle and the extracted liquid drained into pails. Grown ups carried the juice to the cooking pans. The juice was cooked at a rolling boil and care was taken to move it from place to place to keep from burning. The longer it boiled it got thicker. Long handled paddles were used to control its' cooking.

The foam as it cooked did not look very appetizing. Kind of green in color and as it was removed it was sometimes hauled to a burying pit. The white foam was good food and some times samples were dipped and drizzled on a barrel top. Kids quickly sampled this. It had an extra bit of flavor when a piece of cane was dipped into it. The end of the pan had a spigot and the Syrup was drained into gallon pails. These were set aside. When cool the lid was applied. Ready for the user. The last pail was filled and there was a look of satisfaction on every ones face. Many times the comment was, "Best that was made this season."

These old time manufacturing processors have long gone. I see some Sorghum Molasses are cut as we call it with corn syrup. It has a fairly good taste to most people but we old timers know what a plate of Flap Jacks, smeared with real butter and Sorghum

Who knows he taste of Old time Sorghum. A piece of Country cured ham with a pair of eggs with yolks so rich they are almost orange and coffee made in a pot and boiled strong. If you ever ate a breakfast like this, RAISE YOUR HAND.

By Bucky McCoy ©

Asking some younger person who is in school about Hows It Goin? Many times I hear these words. "I am bored. Nothing to do." I need a better car to drive to school. Every car is better than mine. I would l ike a new motor scooter to drive if the weather is good.

One time while my friend and I was walking around looking for empty soda bottles to sell for two cents each we found a pair of worn out and rusty roller skates.

We took them home and got the bearings loose and decided we needed a scooter. No, not a motor scooter, but one we could propel with our feet. We talked about our needs and began looking for what we needed to make one. In our time we either traded for what we wanted, made it our self or worked for it. No body gave you any thing. Earn it. One day we were sitting under a shade three playing mumbly peg. A boy from the other side of town with whom we did not associate came by on his home made Scooter. We looked at each other and our eyes said, "We'll make us a Scooter." We ran to my house as fast as our legs would carry us. Determined to have the only Scooter on this side of town. We did not talk over any plans, but began searching in Dads tools and his lumber pile. We found a pound tobacco can full of rusty nails, some very good wood along with a saw, Hammer and a plane. My friend went home to look for more needs and between the two of us we found all the material. We found a 2X6 and it was just the right length. We separated the old roller Skates and found the right place to put the sections. We nailed them on the bottom, but later found screws did a better job.

The handle was made from a tomato stake and was securely put in place and for a handle across the top we used a section of broom handle. We nailed it securely and then put a clamp we found to do a better job. We finished and admired our hand-work. We took turns riding up and down the side walk. It worked like a charm.

We needed a nice looking machine, but we remembered where two gallon paint buckets were. One red and one blue. We gathered the paint and took about an inch of scum off the tops. It was still too thick so we found a bottle of turpentine and thinned it to a smoother consistency. The paint brushes were full of hard dried paint with the exception of a half inch on the end. Late after noon found a beautiful piece of art on our hands. What a Scooter. We put it behind the coal house and before the Sum came up the next morning we were breaking in the Scooter. Every thing worked like a charm. By mid-morning all the kids in town was around admiring. Each begging for a ride. We let them "Sample" ride and after that it was a penny for ten minutes. Besides being expert Scooter builders we were business people. Trading rides for things to make another scooter. We needed old Roller Skates, Lumber, screws, nails and paint. We were getting into Skate-Scooter business. Now I see these fancy Skate boards, Scooters, and skates it makes me wonder how much enjoyment we had gleaned for our home-made scooters of years gone by.

I look at these fine Mountain bikes, Some children have motorcycles, Automobiles and with out a doubt to hear them talk they say they can't get along with out them. Has our needs changed or is it that wants have changed. I think our wants have grown into needs.

By Bucky McCoy ©

Many of you don't remember the child hood diseases that hit with epidemic force. I remember the Measles, Small Pox, Diphtheria, Scarlet fever and Mumps. Lots of Chicken Pox.

Some time during the school year a big group of children were home in bed and most of the time there was a sign near the front door declaring the disease and the quarantine. Rather terrifying was the diseases and it took a lot of loving care to get through them.

When school began in the fall the first grade students were usually examined by the doctor. This was the era when doctors made house calls. Some times it seemed to go to school to catch some of these Childhood maladies was a norm. Mother used to say, "It is better for them to have the disease and get it over with while they are young."

On several occasions I woke up with a sore throat and a fever. The doctor came to the house and after examination said, "He has the Measles. He will have to stay in bed and I will call the Health Officer and he will quarantine the house by nailing a sign on the front door."

This happening dad moved into the shed. He wasn't allowed near the sick person, but could keep working and yet care for us. He had a cot, a two burner oil stove and a chair and a few cooking utensils. Not much else needed.

By this time I looked out the window and saw the Pudgy Health Officer coming down the cinder walk. He had on his head the Health officers cap and he carried a sign and a hammer. He turned into our lane and stepped onto the front porch. He was thorough with his job. He drove a nail in the wall, removed his coat and hung it on. He carefully tried to find the most conspicuous place for the red sign. He counted out the correct number of tacks, put them in his mouth, placed the sign and started hammering away. I could tell by the hammers noise that he drove eight tacks. He stepped back and admired his handi-work. He put on his coat, pulled the nail on which it was hanging and was on his way. He got to the end of the lane, turned to see the sign. It must have been to his liking for he was gone. We were cut a way from civilization for three weeks. The doctor came every morning to check me out. I had a little fever, itching bumps and a sore throat. I was to gargle with salt water. Take a fever table as needed and rub my body with soda water. When I got to feeling better I was enjoying my time away from school. I did miss my friends, but they were not in school either. Almost all the students had contracted the disease. The time sped by and I was well. The Heath Officer returned and carefully removed the sign. He did it about the same way as when he put it up. He drove the nail, hung his coat and used extreme care removing the sign. When finished he put on the coat, removed the nail and was gone. He was a busy person.

I was allowed to return to school and with high expectations of greeting my friend. No friends. Very few school seats were occupied. Many of them were in bed and had a quarantine sign on their door.

There was a time when I was quarantined with two diseases in one year. I was forced to miss a lot of school. Mom thought it was a just as well get the diseases over with while little. Besides the other diseases there was Whooping c ough. I wasn't quarantined with it, but couldn't go to school. I missed a large amount of school days. Children were ill with something most of the time. A runny nose was an every day thing. Seemed like you had to have the sniffles, or you were not a normal child. Are these illnesses gone? We sure hope so.

By Bucky McCoy ©

Gone are all the people my age and older and I have lots of stories I need to get written. I lived where our Library sets in the year 2005. Vaughn family lived to our South. To the east was Bill Thompson. The first library was north of us and west of me was Happy Muellecker. This was when Ashley Illinois was some what larger than it is today.

When our house was dozed to the ground I saw under the house many half gallon Mason canning jars. They were round and green. They were sealed with a rubber jar ring and a Zinc screw type cap. Dad always made a large garden. There was a pear tree on the South edge of the garden and when pears fell do to a wind storm mom would gather them and can them. I could hardly eat them because they were gritty and pear butter didn't do too well on the hot biscuits. Those were the days when food was a scarce item, so for winters use it was better than eating a snow ball. Right close to the pear tree grew three red plum trees and they supplied the neighborhood. I like plum jam and jelly. Jam usually was made and the skins were used. The front yard had a green gage plum tree. They were delicious, but many plums contained small visitors. I think some times during canning they were over looked. In the back yard was a knarled Banona Apple tree. They sure had a good taste and mom made many jars of apple sauce. Mom made jelly out of the peelings, but dad would not eat it because I looked white like water. It made no difference to me. Food was food.

Mother canned anything. We used to pick up apples out of Preacher Sweetens yard. They sore made good pies. Mom never used enough sugar for the pies were sour. I wonder today if she had any sugar. I am thinking there was a grape arbor on the south side with plenty of concord grapes for Mom and Clara. The vines never did much bearing, but I don't think they were trimmed the last week in February.

We always had plenty of meat for winters use. I would not keep in hot weater. Lard would get rancid. You haven't eaten a good pie crust with out it being made from fresh pork lard. Talk about a tender crust; Shut my mouth A bit about fresh pork. I dream about delicious sausage. Made with fresh sage, black pepper and salt Ground to perfection with the old had grinder mounted on a board. It was placed on two kitchen chairs. A child on each end. Dad did the cranking or grinding and Mom put in the meat. Seventy percent lean and thirty percent of back fat. The fat was stripped off the tender loins. Now the bone is left in for pork chops. We used the bones for back bones. There was always plenty of meat cooked. We were allowed to eat all we could hold. Some times they were baked with some sweet tasting kraut taken from the ten gallon jar. Home made kraut. Do you know how to make kraut? I'll tell you some time. There were times when we had white beans and seasoned with Back Bones. What made them delicious is mom cooked them with rain water. Try it some time. I never like the flavor of Navy beans, but Great Northerns, pintos and Butter beans.

Corn cakes cooked on the stoves top and smothered with butter goes might well with beans. To eat beans you just have to want a large sweet onion. Who cares how your breath smells. I think the onion hits the spot. Nothing else is needed to aid this delicious meal. I like them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. There was never any left over for the next meal. Many times the meals were far between. Now you remember?

By Bucky McCoy ©

I like Tomatoes. My favorite fruit from a vegetable garden. Most every summer mom canned a thousand quarts in various ways. I like them vine ripened. I put three in boiling water because I don't like the skins. Don't leave them a half minute. Cool them under the faucet and the skin slips off. That is a good way to ready them for canning jars. Put the tomatoes in canning jars. Fill seven of them, put in a teaspoon of salt and use regular canning salt. Add the sterilized flat and put on the rings. Marys pressure cooker held seven quarts. I better not say how high the pressure need be before turning off the heat. Those canned tomatoes when opened was almost like fresh.

The many kinds of processed tomatoes was called Chilli. I can remember the recipe. All you need to remember is ingredients. I use a granite roaster and outside cooking is the best. I use about a peck or less of peeled tomatoes. I hand squish a few so they can start cooking. While they are simmering I cut up six or 8 big bell peppers and onions about the same. Canning salt and a hot pepper. While its cooking stir a lot. Add some pickling spices in a rag. With this much I put in two Tablespoons Tumeric. Cook and stir. When it looks done add a cup of brown sugar and a cup white sugar. You fix the sweet and the hot. More hot pepper pods will heat it up. Now I add some Worchester sauce and stir. By now you are addicted and eat it with a spoon. I make it and eat it in a week. This is simply delicious. I like ketchup and put it in a colander and push it through. You got Ketchup. I've eaten fried green tomatoes. Many times are good.

I like breaded tomatoes. Can't find them in cafes in this area. I hear Mary serves excellent breaded tomatoes. Mom used to make the best. Kind of dry and moist enough. I think she toasted the bread she used. It was always the right degree of sweetness.

I never had much of a desire for tomatoes that were small, Grape tomatoes, Cherry tomatoes but last wee a lady namely Melissa had a sample of some she had grown. The taste was out of this world. I like Piccalilli. I don't know how to make it but my mother made up all left over tomatoes in the neighborhood. She ground the tomatoes and let them drain. She added ingredients and cooked it. That was a good condiment. When she gave me a pint I would get a spoon and eat it. I never thought I would eat this mixture.

Every one has a favorite tomato. I now like Celebrities. My father like Ox Hearts, a pink tomato. Mother liked Marglobes for juice. Families in this era seldom plant any thing but patronize the farmers market for their produce.

I like campbells tomato soup. The kind that cost three cans for a quarter sixty years ago I heat a can of 2% milk to a can of soup. Makes a mighty fine drink. I like these big cans of Tomato juice. Not all are alike, but certain brands are delicious when chilled.

I really like Chilli that is almost a winter food. I have some recipe from local fast foods facilities. A Chilli maker, I am not. I have a cook stove and I have a cast iron kettle which makes good delicious Chilli. It takes good tomato based ingredients for Chilli.

Visit the Ashley Library. Quite a variety of books for your use. Visit the Historical room. We need Pictures.

By Bucky McCoy ©

I don't think there is anyone around that visits the Ashley I. O. O. F. as much as I. I don't particularly like it but its' so neat and clean. Not all Cemeteries look this good.

I remember when I was small I walked out with Mom and it was weedy, but then her grandparents were about all of her kin was buried. Paul Setzekorn spends many days keeping it looking neat. Money has become a problem and the donations are few and far between. I sure would dislike seeing it as I once remember. It could happen with out more donations.

In the year of 1938 and I was in Logans grocery a former Ashley man spoke to Charles saying, "Charley, I am retiring. You know I have been a Street car motorman in St. Lous for several years. There was a bulleten board posting where I work. People who are forty five with service can retire. Full pension of $115 a month. No way I can spend it. It was a mistaken posting, but the company said it would stand as posted". Charles answered by saying, "Sound good to me." Harry Crane retired. His friend Burly Berkman retired and moved with Harry. He was happy. Milk five cents a pint. Cigarettes were fifteen cents. Electric was two dollars a month. He needed something to do. He decided on cleaning the Ashley cemetery. He spent his own money, but you know as time went on his pension was too small.

Harry finally passed on and Elmer Newcomb took over for about twenty years and now Paul is doing a great job, but money is scarce. The board needs to sell more lots. Where else can you purchase 4 grave spots for five hundred dollars. Where else can lots be serviced with small donations.

I remember when there wasn't any lawnmowers. Charley McKinzie and Jim Sterrett could mow yards with a Scythe. Jim Summers used to mow with a blade or hand sickle. Every memorial day Jim had the cemetery in fair condition. Jim Summers had some people grave sites clean and they would pay him.

Memorial day was a day of importance. Many people brought lunches and shared with others. Some aspiring people built a platform and there were speakers of importance. A thing the great Evangelist of Ashley did a sermon. He preached all over the United States and his bones rest in the Ashley Cemetery.

I remember when people were carried to the cemetery some one toled the bell. One toll for each year of life. For all who don't know the difference between toling and ringing. Ringing was done by a rope causing the bell to hit the clapper. When a bell was tolled it stood still and a gadget was used to hit the bells lip. There fore the bell had two different distinct sounds.

Ashley was once known as the Woodrome Settlement. Ashley had nearly 2000 people. Five church building. Two Methodist Church buildings and few know the two storied blue painted house on South East third street was a Methodist church building. It was named the Ashley M. E, Church South.

Ending on a somber note. Some months ago I parked where Mary is interred and went to sleep. I was awakened by a lady shaking me. Are you all right? I answered by saying., "Yes and my wife of fifty seven years lays there." She said, "looks like you could find a better place to nap." I answered, "I could, but I expect to sleep there forever", I was trying it out to see if I am going to like it.

By Bucky McCoy ©

I write all these items from memory and I am about to lose it. I live in hopes of people writing a lot of things for the Library Historical. Wait for some pictures to complete the picture books we have at the Library. Better to say, "Come and look them over. It grows on you, so to say, so find out about Ashley and its' people."

Ashley was once blessed with but a few automobiles and not many were driven from here to No Where. Sure they burned gasoline, but a tank of ten gallons lasted forever so it seemed. Can you remember when some Models would run on coal oil? Did you know any body that burned "Drip" Gas? Ashley had many filling stations but not many fill ups. I will tell about some gas stations and I remember most of them. East of town was the Gudgels tavern. Finally Whitey and Stella was in charge. Whitey built a garage across the road. He repaired cars. This was in the thirties so cheap priced gasoline was a scarce item. Regular sold for seventeen cents a gallon. and too, sold motor oil. It was hand pumped into glass containers and was called bulk oil. Not many cans of oil adorned the shelves of this business place. Reimers had a gas station. He worked for Greyhound and Howard Haun ran the station, not for Reimer. Virgil won an award several times for being the cleanest station in a very large district. Standard Gasoline was the brand and Charles Dahnke kept him supplied. Just to the west was the Shell Oil Company and it was run by Raymond Boswell. Ralph, his son helped him. Ralph was just a year ahead of me in High School. Raymond also worked for the State of Illinois as Game Warden. John Kenetski had a Garage and filling station almost across the road. He was a dealer for "Star" automobiles. Charles Shanks had a gas station just a bit further west. It worked two shifts. Glenn (Red) worked days and Fred worked second shift. A hundred feet further west was Seiberts Gas station. Harold was the primary operator. (Remember he was quite a large fellow) He was in Riplys I believe at one tine as the worlds largest motorcycle rider. I know not if he rode a motorcycle. The other place to buy gasoline was Shanks Garage and it set on the corner of Madison and West Rail road Street in Ashley. The garage burned in 1934. I drove two cars out while it was on fire.

There was a station on the West side. I remember Wairs. To the west a bit and on the north Pete Rose had a Shell Station. Cecil Robinson had a gas station and gas could be purchased at the Bus Station and The Blue Moon. Count up the Gas stations. I am mostly correct on this story, but you will have to over look me if I made a few errors. There were many changes to take place as years come and went.

Other stations I forgot to list. I have a memory of the war and buying gasoline. Three gallons a week was all some were allowed. This caused a hard ship on people working in St. Louis and driving to work and returning daily. People employed in Centralia could use their quoto in a trip and a half. Many people worked 6 days a week and some seven. Over time was overlooked. This when we heard the words, "Car Pooling". Many people were searching for some one to exchange riders. It worked rather well. Many people were inconvenienced.

Many people used oil for lighting. Buying a gallon for nine cents was used sparingly. Lamps were turned on low and children had a certain time to get school lessons by the "Coal Oil Lamp"

I lived in those were the days. I find it difficult to believe all I remember. You should order this paper for a friend, especially if you like history. There is always an excellent devotional each week. My, My how can you get along with out this paper for only fifteen bucks a year.

By Bucky McCoy ©

Ashley! What happened to you in the last one hundred years? Once you were a thriving City. You were called the cross road of mid America.? There were times when a hundred twenty trains spent time here daily. Two main highways allowed trucks haul loads of freight through Ashley. Hundreds of trucks went through town every week. Recently I said, "There was at least fifteen places to buy petrol. There were five places to purchase a full meal. Five boarding houses, Rooming houses and just plain Hotels." I try to find pictures for the Ashley Historical room, but they are scarce. I will tell about some as space permits.

Hoover Hotel was on the corner of Madison Street and Third Street. By the standards of eighty years past it was a l arge building. I haven't figured the dates of being built. Surely in the eighteen hundreds. It was partially three stories and painted some yellow and part of it was bricks. The front had about eight steps to get to a front porch. After entering you t urned left. Sitting at a large Rolled Top Desk and most of the time the owner was at his business managing the twenty nine room facility. Mr. Hoover was a man of importance for he was also the Justice of Peace, an important law office that settled petty grievances. I will attempt to describe him and some of his actions.

Mr. H was an easy going man who walked with kind of a slow gait. He wore a smile most of the time. He always wore the dark suit, probably the mark of a business person. He wore a pair of wide suspenders to hold up the trousers. Wide suspenders, they were and I think called Police Suspenders. His white shirt was sometime frayed at the neck from many wearings and most of them had a small hole or two burned in them. His vest was always buttoned and adorning the front was a rather large looking chain of gold attached to his fine watch. The other end was attached to a mechanical gadget that was used to cut off the end of the fine cigars he smoked. I never saw him with out a smoke in his mouth that was half chewed away. His shoes were black and they were always shined and they seemed to be the worse for wear. I never saw him out side the building with out a hat, but inside he wore a different one. It looked like what we call a top hat.

On his desk was a pound tin of Prince Albert Tobacco and a large crook necked pipe. I don't believe he was allowed to smoke Cigars in the building, but there was evidence of his chewing tobacco because a large brass Spittoon set by his chair. He had several Ledgers laying on desk top. This sure made him look important, but he was. He was the justice of Peace. This office presided over some sort of a court. Only certain days of the month he held court. I was told that two people with petty problems took it to him. His being the wise man his job required decided who was right or wrong. When a person was picked by the Town Marshal for some offence, he was brought before the court. I can't remember, but some must have been sentenced to jail. Ashley still has the jail building. I remember the names of the last two that were incarcerated. Ashley needs a small museum. Why? We need to make Ashley a Historical town. Preserve what is left. Five years ago it was thought a Library and Historical room was impossible. Right? Right! Lets make Ashley the Historical City it should be. A Museum? Old Bank Bldg.? I do things with a remembering on my mind. A sign on this side of Mt. Vernon. THIMK

By Bucky McCoy ©

Ashley: Have you forsaken us, or we as Ashley residents put you aside. Some body some where and some place should be shedding tears. Things never happened to our advantage, or if they did we lost it. I think it was in the late 1920's the {Hard road} was completed through our town. There was several years the old bare rough road from Fifth Street to just past Wentworth Street didn't have pavement Some people must have done something about it. It is paved at this time. There was a need and it was met.

The road offered holes that those big trucks could fall into, but did we say, "Let them suffer. They made them."

Does it seem you had the I don't care attitude. Looking at it from another angle the Rail Road and who ever planned on an under pass so there would be no loss of life on the crossing. The under pass project did not happen. Many people have lost their lives on the crossing. Can you imagine all trains running and

I can remember the crossings only warning was a whistle. That was an era when trains had different whistlings for all occasions and a crossing whistle was two longs, one short and another long finishing as they passed over the crossing.

I well remember when gates were installed in 1941. I was employed by the I. C. Rail road and I helped install them. I did most of the line work. By that means I climbed poles and installed the over head lines. This was stretching copper wire, making ends meet, Soldering connections and putting up insulators. Changing out some cross arms that weighed as much as seventy pounds. Look at me now. I don't appear to have been able to climb a fifty foot pole. The only tools was a pair of climbing devises that punched the pole as you climbed and we called them "HOOKS" and then using the safety belt that hung around the waist.

Very few know about it and "Who cares anyways." . I had a friend who passed a few years ago. Few people knew that was what he did was some of the same thing on the same gang. O. L. Washburn was the foreman and live in Ashley in his younger days.

Did you. Old Ashley permit it or did we do it to our selves? Rail Roading has been good to us. I remember when a hundred twenty checks came into town two times a month. It has been noted that all the Telegraph Operators from East St. Louis to Evansville was manned by Ashley People. I am to the opinion there is only one left that lives in the Ashley area. I am thinking Ami Cohlmeyer was the last to pass on. I think it was last year.2005.

We don't use what we have and I wonder why things happen. I remember when there were five Church buildings in Ashley. People had Love for God. The buildings were full at times of worship. Not much air conditioning in them. In fact there wasn't any electricity. Church building windows were open and instead of wanting a back seat the seats by windows were in demand. Hand fans were in the space with the Song books.

Have we lost our love for you, Ashley? Not too many of us attend the two Church buildings. Are we losing our love for God. Are we going to be in a future book of "More Ghost towns in Southern Illinois?"

I don't like negative words, but anything new is not too well used. Much of the old is over looked. Washington County has a lot of History. The Ashley Library Historical room has a lot to offer. Not many people take advantage of much hard work put into the operation. Karen Walker is the capable Librarian and has many helpers . Join the friends of the Library and lets work to the well being of these things we are allowed to have. Can we have ASHLEY in bold print again?

By Bucky McCoy ©

I like to look at old pictures of places and things. I take notice as to how people dress, especially the women. Most of action pictures showed the aprons. Many wore them high in front and they almost dragged on the ground. Every thing seemed to be crammed into the spot light. Animals had their places and they wanted to have their picture taken.

People in some of the pictures like to sit on the back of their favorite horse. Many times half the family could be crowd into a Surry with fringe on top. Many times these people were actually on a short Journey. Where? To the Old Country Church. Nothing could keep them from Gods house on Sunday.

During worship services women wore hats and men sat with their hat on the lap. Many Church services had women sitting on one side and the men on the other. Many of the women wore black clothing. Not until a few years ago did women wear colored clothes. Some to this very date wear their hats. I never owned a good hat. The not so many people who attend their churches in formal wear. Men and their families went together and the preacher carried a big handkerchief to wipe the perspiration. Do you think they would shed their coat while preaching? If you say yes you wasn't in an old time Church revival. The Church buildings were once filled to over flowing. New born babes that was in Church for the first time were restless. The preacher could do his job louder than a crying child. I have heard some that was so loud it made my inner ear hurt.

The younger people, teenagers were able to go to Church as boy friend and girl friend. Not much other place to go. What better place was there to sit and hold hands. Today many Church goers sit in the same spot.

No longer do men wear heavy clothing. Many women wear the multi-colored blouses with and most wear slacks and many young children wear shorts. There is much room today because many need rest and sleep in Sunday. Plenty of pews for every one.

During very cold weather the wagons had quilts for each to keep warm. Half filled with straw and kids kept each other warm .On the east side of the Ashley Baptist Church in Ashley was a place to tie up the team of horses. Most of the time there was a blanket to put over the horse. I have seen large blankets and they covered the horses head and only ears put through holes. I wondered if their ears did not get cold. Many times the animals ate during services. Farmers had nose bags filled with hay.

I wondered how ladies were able to climb in to a buggy. It was made for just two people and the fine horse pulled it at a rather brisk pace. This seat was affixed to the rest of the buggy. It was made for an easier ride.

During hot weather the ladies still hung onto their same clothing. Long heavy dresses that hung to ankles length. Men wore their heavy suit. Children could usually wear not so heavy clothing. The kids for the most part wore their heavy shoes. Four times a month and as soon as they got home they took them off and went bare foot.

I have in my possession, I think, a buggy blanket. It must have been my Grand Fathers. I remember him. Many barns that filled spaces in Ashley are gone. Horses were needed animals. This is long gone. Now I see people have riding horses and if it gets to 35 degrees they are covered with blankets. Some mid-days and its nearing sixty degrees horses still have blankets. The South does differently.

By Bucky McCoy ©

Ice Cream weather is quickly drawing to and end in good old Southern Illinois. Cookout time is almost over. When I was a child the only people that cooked out were men of the road. Hobos? They didn't have fancy food to cook but it may be well if we watched what they eat. I never saw a fat bum. I've never seen one toting a can of soda. Maybe black coffee in a rusty tomato can. Was rust good for them? My father and Grand father butchered their own pigs and the only thing they cooked out side was the lard. This was done in a large copper kettle and with a long handled stirrer they cooked over an open fire until the fat meat scraps became lard. There were cracklins left over and used for corn bread and bean seasoning.

Little does that have to day with Holiday season ending. We can still talk about ice cream. We had a six quart freezer and it may have been called Green Mountain something. Our first batch was made on Memorial Day. Well some times we had ice cream earlier and when those long ice cycles hung from the out side roofs we crushed them and mother made us a gallon and a half ice cream. Made with our own fresh milk and cream and a junket tablet or two an of course sugar. Some time she cooked the mixture and others just made raw like. The freezer can was filled and the paddle inserted and the lid on it was ready for cranking. When we could not turn the handle, it was a finished product. The crushed ice and the salt had done its job too. It had to set an hour or so for the finished goods to set. Ready to eat? Not quite. Great care was used to get the salted ice away from the finished product. The lid was removed and the paddle was laid in a pan. I liked to lick the paddle and none was wasted. We really enjoyed the treat. Some times if we had an over supply of milk mother made two batches. This freezer was used for many years and finally the can that held the milk product wore thin. A little salt leaked in, but dad managed to for a new one. I have no way of knowing how much ice cream it made. On occasion some one wanted to borrow the freezer and dad would loan it. I always mumbled and said, "They will just wear it out."Most every year my parents purchases a two and a half gallon pack of Ice cream from the store. We ate it quickly also. I really liked it, but dad didn't care for it. He always ate as much as the rest of us. This was the fourth of July.

Some Church congregations had a yearly ice cream social. The Ashley Baptist church featured one. They strung lights around in the Church yard and set tables and of course they had to use white table cloths. This occasion required people to wear white clothes. No, I don't know why. Was it expensive? What do you think? A large bowl for a nickel and there were cakes of which you could purchase a large piece for five cents. Home made they were.

This was a place where boy-girl friend could go and have fun. Those days were walking days. There are still some Side Walks in Ashley that are six feet wide. That took a lot of traffic. Those were the days with out automobiles and Ashley had almost three times as many people as there are now.

Stored away are some of those old hand cranked machines never to be used again. No more extra cold winters and isn't easier to go to a store and by ice cream? Sure it is. But you probably don't get the same nutrients.

Time is used in different ways and little time is left for extra curricular activities.

Sad but true that not enough people attend Church to have any thing. I would like to see more people at the Library. New people usually say, "I did know we had this. It is really nice"

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© 2006 Wayne Hinton

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