A series of articles written by :
Wilbert "Bucky" McCoy for :
( Ashley, Illinois )
DuQuoin, IL 62832
The shops are few that will give a shave with a sharp straight razor. Years ago a fifteen cent shave was a major piece of work. I am not to sure I would want to lie back in a barber chair and let some one shave my throat with a sharp razor. I read a child song a few days and one of the repeated lines was I don't like you any more. That's a bad thought.
Merchants of those days wore suits of clothing, shined shoes and had an important look and air about them. Each week day at the same time they were in for a morning shave. They placed them selves in the barber chair. Customers purchased their very own shaving mug with a round bar of soap in the bottom. Many purchased a good shaving brush. The barber would retrieve the mug and put in a bit of warm water, whisk it a round and it was full of foamy rich lather. The barber would apply a liberal amount on the face and rub it in. This was repeated and a hot towel was wrapped around the face. The man that intended to remove the beard would spend a few seconds stropping the razor. This was like whetting an edge on the tool as it was run across a big leather belt. The towel was removed from the recipients face and more lather was applied. Ready to shave and it was beard removing time. Scraping pf the beard was under way. Not any conversation between the two. There were times when you would hear, "Don't you ever sharpen that razor?" The job being finished, the face was wiped clean with the hot towel. Another towel was used to wipe the face dry and a liberal splash of Witch Hazel liquid was applied to the face for a cool and soothing effect.
Most times the shoes shined were every morning. Barber shops had a regular shoe shining chair. Shoe shining was an art.
The customers usually wore ankle high shoes and white socks. He never had much to say to the Shoe Shine Boy. Most of the time
all that was said, "Don't shine the sox." It was a joy to watch the shoe Shine Boy. He applied polish with his bare hands.
The heat from his hand was supposed to do a better shine. If you have never had the experience of getting shoes shined
by a professional, you have missed something. I have heard little ditties they sang as they popped the cloth. When the customer
said, "Give me a spit shine" the response was saliva on the shoe and it did help the shine. A good boy could earn a tip for a job
well done. Price was a nickel a shoe and a five cent tip. There were times this was a part time job for a school boy. He was up
at six with the merchants and did work right up to school time. Evenings after school the shine boy was on the job again. Many
days he earned a good day's wages, the owner of the shop got a third of the earnings.
Polishes and clothes were furnished by management...
This shop was a place to learn every thing. Many men were between jobs and loafed here with hopes of being found for a job. When farmers or some one needed a man for a days work he was found here. A dollar a day was he going wages. Some times it was a ten hours for a dollar. Much of the time the person who did the hiring would furnish lunch. When they didn't you walked home for lunch
These places are gone for every. They are talked about in History books, but few are the ones left to tell the story first hand. I know some readers will attend Church Sunday Morning. Look around at the walls. They too have a story.
Did any one dream about power farm machinery. I can't imagine a man walking behind a team of animals cutting a fourteen inch furrow and then it need disking and harrowing and planting. All by hand so to speak. Once in a while some body could afford an automobile. I think a new Model T was around four hundred dollars and it could be ordered from a catalogue. It was a summer time car. But thats another story.
Some cows furnished plenty of raw milk, butter and Cottage cheese, no I mean Clabber Cheese. Some were fortunate to own a Cream separator. Pour the milk in the top and turn a crank. Out of the two spigots came skim milk and cream. Women would look at this machine and say, "Aint that nice. No waiting to skim cream from tops of milk crocks."
Farmers used their binders to do their oats and wheat. This was not very popular way for it took some work to keep the moving parts in working order.
Hay was cut and let dry. Sometimes it was stacked and other times it was baled. (Been a long time since I saw a straw or hay stack.)
The acreage was generally small for it was impossible to do two many acres. Many farmers owned their forty or sixty acres and eked out a living. Living was cheap or was it cheap living.
It was almost like a clan of people in an area. Most times there was a local country school where they learned to read and write. Small Church buildings were many times close to the school building. Twenty part time students was a pretty good load for a teacher, sometimes she was from the area. During farming seasons, some students skipped school to work.
I still like the Orthography book and Physiology was taught. Not much Hygiene. Teachers tried to get students to wash their teeth. Tried to enforce personal hygiene. Today the Dictionary has any word you need to know about. Any boy or girl living on a farm needed little sex education.
No one questioned the works of God or the devil. Most every one was in a Church building come the Lords Day. That was a personal requirement.
Did you know doctors made house calls? Any small town needed two and three doctors. Can you think that a doctor made calls in town and walked from house to house and in the country saddle up his trusty steed and rode to these visits. Home remedies given by midwives took the load off doctors. I have read many prescriptions and it's hard to believe. Lucky charms were sure to cure some ailments. Today people hang a horseshoe open part up for good luck over the back door of their home.
Much was lost and gained when the farmer gave up his horses and mules.
We had such fun as you would not believe for we camped a different park each month. The potluck dishes we ate were out of this world.
I liked breakfast and my favorite was pancakes and sausage with scrambled eggs. Most cooks don't know how to fix scrambled eggs. There is more to it than whisking eggs together. I am not an egg expert, but I know how to make pancakes. This was left to the men and some times a woman would give directions on how to make them. I had some pancake dough mixed and a lady came by and advertised in a loud voice. "I see Bucky don't know how to make good pancakes". She picked up he container and eat out all he lumps and said, "There, now that's better." When she left I poured it out and made new. Pancakes are like biscuits. Don't overwork the batter or you will have thin and very tough pancakes. So the rule of thumb is leave some lumps. Don't beat very long and as it sands it thickens and a little milk need be added to thin a bit. A wire hand mixer does the best if you under beat the mixture How to cook. A big old dirty l ooking cast iron frying pan is best. With low sides it works better. The pan needs be greased after each use with a greasy paper towel. Don't use butter in the pan because it will burn.
How do you determine he right temperature. The best I can say is "eye ball" the product and you soon learn what and when. The pancake usually won't stick due to the oil in the batter. Don't cramp the pancakes in this skillet because it creates problems in turning. I like my pancakes large. So one in the middle of a skillet works well for me. These I really like but cooking for a crowd you will have to cook three or four at a time I will turn a cake when many air bubbles appear and for the other side, Well, lift a cake and peek. Never turn the cake but one time. This cake needs to have been smeared with some good Cow butter. Home churned.
I have tried a wide variety of syrups. I like this maple syrup, but what is hard to beat is sorghum with taste and texture of what you get at the café (Lambirds) that have the throwed rolls. We can remember the sorghum mills. The flies, the green scum and the fine tasting syrup.
Many farms raised cane and carried it to the mill and the old mule walking in a circle squeezing out the juice. A might fine mule. Did he get dizzy from walking in a circle? I wish now I would have asked one how well he fared. If you know much a bout these fine animals, they use sign language with their ears. When you have been with them a while you can understand it. I was taught this by the Chimpanzee that dad used as a farm hand.
You see, I lived almost a hundred yeas ago and I know all these things.
Most of you don't know about the Old Farmers Almanac. Saved many crops from ruin. This book gave the weather, told when and where to plant, when to harvest and all the remedies for aches and pains. My, what a wonderful book.
I wonder if it is worthwhile to link your self to a lasting friend ship. Many times we link our selves on others. I have a cousin who said, "You need a companion." Could be true. I have seen others who lost some one and have married six times or more. Is it worthwhile to join our selves to others for the fleeting love last for such a short time? Is it what we need? Looking for new love? We run the risk of experiencing the same thing over. We have to feel the pains of love as well as the pains of being disappointed.
I don't know how to solve the pains of sorrow. Is there really a solution?
I am thinking if there is a solution the soul of man needs to work it out in his own heart. Many solutions are offered in friend ship, but none work. Each case must be judged on it's own merit. Many attempts are futile. Remember the words of a brother-in-law. I know 'Zackly' what you re feeling. A reason being he had lost two wives. I cannot believe that gives a person the right to know exactly how some one else feels. A friend can offer worldly reasons, but the only real way is Spiritual is my opinion. I seem to be thinking from a mans view, but when our son lost his life, it was his mother who suffered the most anguish. I have a son residing in South Alabama who has experienced the speed of a fast moving racecar. He too liked to ride a bike and to add this to the others hobby was jumping from a plane and hoping the chute would open. It always does, may be.
I gave that a bit of thought. While they were enjoying their hobbies, I now wonder what anguish the mother had when a chute malfunction caused several broken bones. Coming home and mother asking, "Which hospital is my son in from a crash tonight?" I can't say this is a joy and a glory of life. It was fun and expensive hobby. These things call joy and glory and fun go down the drain when these things happen. Many as three different days a week, death got his chance.
We studied in a Sunday School Lesson that death isn't a complete loss. We don't want that experience. It isn't the end of every thing. It's only the beginning of the end. I am not going to try to explain this because Carmen writes devotionals that I could not touch with my inability to use the Bible and expound on It. So take time to read her devotionals.
Do we have to have Spiritual discipline to cope with these losses? It is hard for me to think that death is good. That's what I call having a lot of faith. I suppose there are a lot of mysteries with which I am un-able to cope. Some time during your first hundred years, there will be a winner. And that is for sure. A good friend is difficult to locate.
Support the Historical Department, Come and visit with Bucky. We need everything.
Ask how to get your name on a wallboard.
My addy :
70 E Second St Ashley IL 62808
I have stated that we have so few friends, but many acquaintances. To bury a friend leave a different feeling in a person's heart than burying a friendship.
After a bit of thought, how many real friends do I have? I mean by that as in the Bible it talks a bout a friend that sticks closer to you than a brother.
Being in Candy making for forty-five years, things happen. People that have worked on production lines are nodding their head in agreement. How many secrets do you know? Many, I presume. How many have you repeated? Zero. There are times after years of being with this friend for more years than you are with your spouse and under different conditions, stuff happens. Do we not learn more about a persons "every thing" and the two of us make decisions that should have been made else where. Is that what we mean by saying, "Two heads are better than one." I reckon that is why most people go through their life with heart scars. When you give them a thought does the heartthrob for a second. I can tell a lot, but a person comes into the Library Historical room and seeks a High School Year book and looks at a secret love of fifty years ago. Some minutes the book is put back onto the shelf and walks out. Did not say any thing. I know both people. Does this make the heart pace faster for a fleeting moment? I suppose this may be a point I wanted to get across. I have often thought about the tragedy of friend ship. I, like many can shed a tear when thinking too hard on the subject. Many times when your best friend goes on their way to meet their maker, a short time later marriage to whom they called a child hood sweet heart. Were they married many years to a life of misery? Did this person suffer untold agony with a smiling face?
I don't think many people are exempt from the friendship thing. Loss of genuine friendship probably hits us all. The Highways of l ife are strewn with wrecks. I drive onto an accident and something had happened. I know not what, but there is a wreck. These dangers of collisions and wrecks are always present. A wreck is a wreck. Wrecks of life are hard to cope with.
Is this friendship of life reminds not every one makes it. I am reminded of accidents on a five lane. An auto by the way side. A person told me. That is a good lesson for us. We strive for a goal. By being a bit careless, some fall by the Wayside. I am reminded by a railroad rule. "In case of uncertainty or doubt the SAFE course must be taken."
I think on things and some losses are unavoidable. Many over which I can't control. Some losses have to be. Time moves on. We lose our youth and beauty. We become ancient and things happen. Isn't the earth over crowded?
The Rose, what a beautiful flower, The Glory of April and May, It blooms, it withers and dies in a day. Kind of like many things in our day of life. These kinds of happenings are inevitable. Here today, gone tomorrow. We can still cherish our unforgettable friendships.
I carried it down stairs and found a can of Comet and started scouring. I got it tolerable clean with the exception of the out side bottom. It appeared to have too many layers of 'stuff' and I determined too much cleaning might cause it to leak. What if it did leak? I have no use for it.
Mom used to need hot water, a Dish Pan and some P & G soap. Seems like dishes were washed and drained. Later hot water poured over them to rinse. Many times a sister had to learn to dry dishes.
This old Teakettle has heated many a gallon of water. The Dishpan had been used to give baby sister a bath and had it not been for the boiling water in the Teakettle, the bath water might have been cold.
Mother tried to keep the out side of this kettle clean. How? The best scouring powders I ever saw was some fine ashes from the ash pit of the stove. This cleanser worked better than any I ever saw, even that which came out of a can of Old Dutch.
It came to my mind that my grand mother always had a Teakettle on her kitchen stove. It was never with out a wisp of steam from the spout. That kettle was a copper kettle and after I gave it some thought I would see a little green on it and granny cleaned hers with baking soda. It always shined so brightly. I thought that green color was probably poison. This kettle had a large handle and was much bigger that the one we normally used at home. Grand Ma thought big. Lots o' grand kids.
Grandma was particular with people using this kettle of hot water. Grand pa used it to fill the radiator of his model "T" Ford car. Seemed like it was an every morning chore. In Twenty-Four hours all water leaked from his car. Of course in the winter the radiator was drained nightly to keep any water that was left from freezing and bursting the radiator.
Some of her kettles had a wire like handle, some had wood and the handle of wood was burned a bit. This kettle some times set
on the top of the living room heating stove. We needed moisture in the air. During the hot summer months the fire was not
allowed to burn all the time in the kitchen. We had a closed in back porch with screening wire and on the porch was an Oil Stove. It was
lighted to heat water. We were warned to hurry up. Don't put too much water in the tub.
(# 2 Wash Tub.) So hurry with the heating and turn it off. It used coal oil as so did lamps. The price was nine cents per gallon. If we used too much oil in he stove, little would be left for the lamps. Poor Lighting at the best. came from these lamps
When you find one of these kettles, clean it and look it over. Think of all the services it provided. Use it carefully.
I like good milk gravy and to this day I never get enough if its fixed like this. Take the grease from the sausage skillet leaving about four tablespoons. Add about five tablespoons of flour. Let it cook and keep it stirred. When this flour is browned it is time to add a quart of milk. Don't have the heat too high. Stir and when desired thickness occurs add some salt and black pepper. Pour the bowl full and use it before it has time to skin over. Break one of the large biscuits in half, put on plenty of butter. Ladle gravy over them and sprinkle on some sugar. Talk about good. The flavor out did the fried tender loin. The mashed potatoes were the best in the west. I know these younger people would turn up their nose at this fare. I thought we ate high on the hog. There is a bit of difference in today dinner. Grandpa is probably playing Golf. The gravy is made from an envelope. The potatoes are more than likely from a box of instant. Might be helped with some Margarine and half percent milk. Pork chops were real large and rather chewy. Was it Archie Bunkers wife who mentioned, "Those were the days." Some body mentioned canned Biscuits.
Grand pa had eaten his fill and found his "rest my eyes spot" on the day bed. He snored out some of his favorite tunes, occasionally becoming choked. He solved the problem and was sawing out some new tunes. I had lay in front of him and some times played second fiddle.
These true stories are seldom believed. They are not relived. There just aren't any tools left to make and eat gravy. No one around to form a band. Have you ever seen a cast iron skillet? Have you ever seen a homegrown pig? Flour in a print bag? Real cow butter? Pure hog lard? A bunch of grand kids? Grand mom and gramps? No. You are not apt to.
We talk about things becoming extinct. Chicken house pilferers are gone. No body visiting a neighbors smoke house. I can't remember an old hen and her brood of peepers. I remember all creeks were loaded with Perch and Crawdads. We never ate crawdads, but now we do. Time has changed me.
We can't omit mentioning the girls. Some very young and some not but they walked around the platform talking and laughing and accepting the attention men were offering. High shoes were in the vogue for the ladies and buttoned all the way to the top. Some were as much as twelve inches high. Not such things as trousers for ladies, but only long skirts and they were long. I used to wonder what the small white handkerchief was used for. Some were no more than six inches square. These were flirting handkerchiefs. Most ladies were proficient in using them in the art of flirtation.
Train due time grew closer the population grew around he depot. Most of the time the crowd interfered with the workers doing the baggage and mail work. The trains arrived many of the girls flirted with the train crew and if the male passengers would give heed they to would be flirted with. Time went by rather quickly, but some tired if the depot fun and drifted away in small groups to find something else, but sooner or later they were back at the depot. This group shifted to the L & N depot when it was time for action there. It was a repeat of the action at the IC depot. Most times girls went home for supper, but men stayed it out. It was noised around that Ashley had more petty girls meeting trains than any other town. I am thinking the old towns people called this time the Gay Days. Can you imagine a town with out a single automobile? Lisa at Popecks loaned me some Glass negatives and pictures a model T ford, a lady riding a horse, sidesaddle and many more. Why not come to library historical room and see all of them? Let me show them to you and talk about them. People not using the Library are missing some important fun things.
On the back of this stove was a water tank that held five gallons of water so we always had hot water from this kitchen Range. My sisters usually kept it full of water. Many houses had a pitcher pump in the kitchen. Houses were built over a well for this purpose. It sure was better than getting a bucket of water from an out side well. Some times the rope broke and the draw bucket was lost and was fished out with grappling hooks.
This stove had a spot for the granite coffee pot. It simmered most of the time. Eventually the coffee got weaker. Putting a cup of fresh ground coffee in and more water solved problem. Coffee cost two pounds for thirty-nine cents. Brewed, this way it was good to the last drop.
This stove could make the best meals. I always enjoyed home made fresh sausage. Dad was real particular about the spices. Mom had a huge iron skillet. She made sausage cakes as they were called and cooked more than we could eat. We had our own chickens, so we had more eggs than we could use. Mother broke them in this skillet of hot fat and kept top covered. She put them on a serving plate and you were welcomed to eat all you could hold. Some mornings she made biscuits as big as your fist and they were so tender and good. She knew just how many to prepare for seldom was any more than one left. May be it was mannerly not to take the last biscuit. Who knows? Who cared? What were manners in my child-hood?
I enjoy the Library and its' offerings to the Community. Many fine books on the shelves and as money permits Karen add new ones. A very excellent Historical department is in the process of being set up. All of this takes the help of interested citizens and it appears to be just a few around the Old City. Speaking of older citizens, seems like we have many of them. Not too many show their faces at the Library, but once they do many interesting things are in store for them. Bucky McCoy can talk as long as you want to listen about people, places and things in and around Ashley. Every thing in the Historical room and for the most parts came from donations. There are many loose leaf note books full of Ashley. We need any kind of pictures, Old Ashley News Papers, and of course cash for incidentals. Twenty five dollar donation gets your name on the ever-growing list of names on the Library wall.
I will list some of the pictures we have in frames on the walls. Most important is school pictures and we have all the A. T. H. S. pictures of graduating classes, save one. 1923. We have all year books except 1951. Not too many remember Oscar Dade and his horse Star resided with Krudsma before getting on his own. He was born in Slavery. The old Radom Church. A picture of Clarence Schuback standing beside his ancient automobile. Church buildings? Ashley once supported five Church congregations. Grey Hound Bus station and an old grey Hound Bus. Too many things to mention all of them.
I need more pictures and more information about our City. What you have could be loaned to the Library while we copy them.
Our first library set on the lots north of our present Library. It was in a small bed room of the Doctor Foster residence. Daughters Sadie and Verlinda were the care takes. They we also school teachers and taught Piano. Our present Library came into being in 2002. We had a grand opening and had high hopes of many people using the facility. We have Computers for your convenience. There is much for Ashley to offer. Why not stop at the Library and get some information. Richview joined the District.
The last few years have given Ashley some new business opportunities and a new one sprouts on occasion. The last and not yet open is on Main Street in the west section of Ashley. Lorri and Terry Curtis will be the new owners. Very recently Popeks opens a new facility. Its' location is the former lumber company on West Rail Road streets and was Mudds Memories. Now it's called Peckers and you can purchase a cold drink.
We at the Library would be happy to show you around. Monday night six to eight, Tuesday and Friday one to four thirty or Saturday morning. If the need arises you can see what's happening by appointment.
Dianne Quinzy at the Ashley Lantern Inn or as it's called the Pub has allowed a large Ceramic Pig placed inside for donations. Whether stopping by for a delicious meal, a sandwich and drink gives people the opportunity to donate money to a great cause. By mailing or bringing by twenty five dollars or more a space is provided on a wall plate with your name engraved in a piece of metal. How can any one afford to not be a part of this worth while and informative project? You really need to stop by and find out what's happening now. We can tell you how to get a year's subscription to the Ashley News for eighteen dollars. What a bargain. Inside this paper tells you how you can contribute news items, too. There are a lot of things people can tell me about our town. Many things need to be copied for future generations reading. Not many people around can relate stories about happening a hundred years ago.
I am hearing many things via this computer that I had forgotten and many questions are asked. Too many to answer them all and many queries are received with out return postage. On a limited budget, many go un-answered. We get pictures on occasion and visitors that are well pass ninety. Recently I was surprised to have as visitors, members of the Ashley Crow family. They brought with them some pictures that are valuable to the Ashley Libraries History. They live in Missouri.
Ashley had its first Library seventy seven years ago and it was just a few feet north of our new Library. Small as it was, some books in the Foster Sisters spare bed room, books that provided a wealth of reading. A few of those old books are still around.
We need some interest people to contribute a lot to this project. Your visits would be greatly appreciated as well as informative. I just notice the Librarian, Karen has five or six books laying out to attract your attention about Southern Illinois.
I am saddened to think we let personalities interfere with the furtherance of a good cause. Every thing that happens doesn't agree with my way of thinking. I now realize with out the combined effort of people, some known and some not, we would be without a new Library. Would history of Ashley be available? Some don't care. Not many towns have so much gathered together for your children and grand children and great grand children to browse upon years from now. Are you proud of our accomplishments? I am and they surely will be a hundred years from now.
Make an effort to visit our facility on a regular basis.
My parents were different in most ways. We were developing a rather large family and they too like to live of the fat of the land. Dad must have wanted to be a farmer. We always had chickens for food and eggs. A Black Jersey cow for milk. Not too over load us with milk and butter, he chose a small one which gave less milk and ate less food. Every March he would purchase three or four small piglets and when November rolled around they were slaughtered for our winters' meat. Not only us, but many other people in town did as we were doing.
Dad always made a huge garden and always fretted about the insects and worms ruining their crop. They too wished for rain and worried about hail storms. Gardening started in very early spring. The time seed catalogues arrived and seed ordering took place. Dad spaded a lot of the garden, with care each spade full was turned over and broke. This garden was usually fenced in. No fence, little to show for their work. Rabbits would eat, Chickens ate tomatoes. Many things were planted out side the garden in a main truck patch that had been readied with a horse, a one row Plow and a harrow. Harvey Calloway would plow a large space, get the seed bed ready and plant a large lot of potatoes for a dollar fifty. Dad always made the rows straight with a garden plow pushed beside a tight string. Rows were tagged with seed packaging. I liked parsnips and we raised two rows of them.
My favorite food was Kentucky Wonder Pole beans. These had runners and had to be taught to climb the Sassafras poles dad had cut the years before. These beans had to be dusted with bug eliminator because young beetles enjoyed the eating of the leaves. Cucumber did well as did melons. Peas were a very early crop and did not fare too well
Canning time rolled around all too soon. It was a large project to can tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, Some minor items were 'Put Up' but many tomatoes and green beans. We readied the jars, most time half gallons and they were washed very clean inside and out. The galvanized lids with glass centers got the same treatment. At using time they were steamed for a while. I helped with the processing. Skinned tomatoes were placed in the jars and pushed tightly to make juice to fill the jar. New jar rings were used. A box of 12 rings cost ten cents. Zinc lids tightened and they were cold packed. Today I own the kettle from a hundred years ago that was used for cold packing. This kettle had about an inch of news papers in the bottom. Twenty four jars set in a water bath and boiled for forty five minutes. This kettle had been placed on four bricks and a fire built under it. We never lost a jar to spoilage. It must have been the correct formula.