A series of articles written by :
Wilbert "Bucky" McCoy for :
( Ashley, Illinois )
DuQuoin, IL 62832
Later on a small scraper-grader appeared and lasted for years and it disappeared like it came. Where did it come from? Where did it go? I Think I know.
A mail carrier by the name Frank Foehr, an Ashley mail carrier furnished balls, bats, uniforms, gloves, shoes, and even the water can. He had a love for the game and always wore a ball cap that had been given to him by Dazzy Vance a Brooklyn Dodger Pitcher. Frank always had transportation of some kind. He must have spent most of his pay check on base ball and town children. Too, he had little time for the small farm. . Sprouts took it over. So many that the little Spring of water was hard to find.
He was older than the players of the three teams, but not for the mens team. He and Manley Smith were Pitchers and Frank was quite an acrobat on the mound. His nick name was Movie. Nibbs Golden was a second baseman. Charles Hagebush was an infielder. Others, I cannot remember. The team was of exceptional strength for a country team and played the Cardinals in our home town field and won.
The Ball Diamond was east of Ashley, South of the L & N Rail Road tracks and east of the High way. It had some bleachers and it cost to sit on them, but standing room was free. Bill Woodrome was always the umpire. He did umpiring from behind the Pitchers mound. Bill was a good umpire. Probably due to his being tall and thin.
One year Ashley played the Mt. Vernon Car builders. The name came from a facility in Mt. Vernon Illinois that manufactured rail road cars. Most of the players worked for the company. Several of the workers, the same as ball players became members of the St. Louis Cardinal or the St. Louis Browns. One I remember was Ray Blades from this team. He was once a St. Louis manager. Tommy Thevenow was another and two more that escapes my mind. Frank Foehr was once a minor league pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodger organization. He owned much base ball equipment. He and Elsie had two sons and they may have some of the equipment to this day, but they may not be the quality ball players with the ability of Frank. I would say it would be material for an Ashley Museum. ( ASHLEY needs a small Museum, but first interested people). I cannot find a picture of Frank Foehr nor his Mail wagon that was pulled by horses for the Library Historical Room. We need many things for the Historical room. Stop by and once you see what's happening, you too can become excited about it. It's on North Second Street in Ashley. We are not there all the time, but an appointment can be arranged.
We are hoping for new lights for the people to better see the pictures. We are hoping for a printer to enlarge pictures and that can be used by towns people with a library card for a nominal fee. I need a good Digital camera with a charger . I spend my money for film and development. Any one seeing our accomplishments will agree with our needs.
I am always looking for something to make the Ashley Library Historical room a better place to visit and I am being a pest about asking people for things. Fifty years from now there will be people happy because we have accumulated so much history for them to enjoy. We find it difficult at this time because some older people want to save what they have. The cemetery is full of information that we cannot obtain, but I run in to people who have pictures, clippings from papers and other thing and I get them through mail. Some time past I visited a person from Chicago by the name of Bishop. She stated, "I was on interstate 57 and saw a sign, Ashley Illinois. I was interested. because I had some relation buried at the Ashley grave yard. Well, my husbands." I pointed out grave sights and she was quite excited. She must have taken many pictures and we talked about the John Brannums, Mr. Green Jeans, Helen Walker and Ethyl Corzine. I was happy to hear she had pictures and promised to mail them to me. She kept her promise. When time permits some more pictures may be located and I get them too. What a lovely lady. "The cemetery really looks great," She said. I mentioned Paul Setzekorn was the over-seer. I will mention that several years ago she had visited Bill Walker family and was concerned out their well being.
Jason Coleman from Hollywood California is concerned about the Library and has made many monetary contributions and a Family tree of Colemans. He would like any item that belonged to the Tom Coleman family and was in Ashley many years ago when Colemans lives on East Main Street. The house was south of the Highway off fifth street.
I cannot trace this tree part, but it seems Thomas had been married several time and the first being to a Church and there were two boys born to them. .
I am trying to work on Ashley History and many people I remember. I need biographies of sorts. I have things written about old school mates. Francis Potter was once a good friend and lived on the north end of Third Street. He married June Gurney. He was retired from the Air Force as a pilot of a very large Bomber. I have their pictures at the Historical Room. They reside in Spokane Washington. Remembering Kathryn and I believe she ferried Bombers during the war. Kenneth, long gone to meet God. There was an older boy, I forgot his name and the parents were Hope Potter, a poet and H. M. Potter worked at the Post Office as I remember.
The Historical rooms walls are being covered with eight by eleven framed pictures for Public viewing. We have snapshots enlarged. The cost was not small, but soon we will have a printer which will save money and people in the district can use it for a nominal fee. We have that promised, well kind of.
We have a picture of Clarence Shuback Standing by his first automobile. We have an interesting picture of all the restaurant help in 1950 at Grey Hound Bus Depot. The most interesting thing is all the Ashley High School pictures of students. Missing is 1923. These are from the New School. Beginning 1916. I like the picture of Bob and Dewey Bradley doing Barber work. The Shop was on FRONT Street, actually East Rail Road Street.. You have to see to believe what we have. So please stop by.
Jim McCoy was the only professional race car driver from the Ashley Illinois. He was a member of the B.C.R.A. Big Car Racing Association. Little is known about his prowess. He raced cars in the eastern United States. Mostly by invitation. His last year of racing he did some State Fair racing. He was suspended in Lincoln Nebraska. The following year he lost his life near Meeker Colorado. He had quite a following of fans. He raced several years on area race tracks. He owned Midgets, Stock and Sprint cars. He had his share of accidents. Brother Larry headed his pit crew and doubled as a relief driver for Jim. His favorite past time was motorcycles and parachutes.
There are other people who tried racing, but of different variety. Bill White was in the Race Horse business. I don't know for how long or what kind of horses. I know that Keith White kept busy try to heal injured horses. I don't know about horses. My Brother-in-law drove trotters and pacers. I like to watch pacing horses. Do you know the difference in trotting and pacing horses?
I like to watch dog racing. I always wanted to own a Grey hound. I was in the wrong place at the right time. These dogs are used to eating a lot of protein and are very muscular. Most trainers have one that can be obtained at the track. The dog has to meet rigid specifications, or it has no value to the owner.
Racing seems to be born into every ones well being. It is a lot of fun to win. Years ago Ashley had High School winning coaches. A good reference book is an early yearbook. Who they played and the scores. The scores were lower in Basket Ball due to a center jump after each basket. You will note that Ashley played against Mt. Vernon, Centralia, DuQuoin and McCleansboro. Ashley fans, for the most part did not miss a game. Many times at away games we had more fans than the home team. Track teams always fared extra well. I am thinking Larry McCoy set a record at Carlyle (Black Diamond Conference. I am led to believe it's still on the conference record. 1962. One year Ashley had the best Cross Country team around and for proof ask Ted Kujawa. He was one of them. Right Ted?
Ashley, for years was competitive. Jerry Spear recently retired as a captain from American Air lines was a stunt pilot for years. He still has the plane to prove his ability or inability, crashed and at home. Most of us got a free show three times a week. This area is where he practiced.
The early forties, Howard Scrivener taught half the young men to fly. Some girls had pilot license. This may be why Ashley had so many that could fly. I don't know how competitive they were. A long list of pilots. I think there were more who flew than those who did not. Many used their skills during the war. Some not as Pilots, but in other positions.
All of the afore mentioned involved some kind of competition. I have omitted some due to space. Some remember Donald Keen, a pilot of a big Helicopter, landed on the Ashley Ball diamond to visit his father for a few minutes.
Ashley has a lot to talk about. The Old School produces many important people. Finally its worth seemed to diminish and it closed. Students are going the Nashville High School.
All who read this column may tire of my trying to find any thing ancient about Ashley. I am glad there are now many pictures, paper articles and etc. of a hundred years ago.
I recently had an opportunity to spend two hours with Jim Coultas. I find it difficult as to where gets his Ashley Historical knowledge and told me things I did not know. Jim plans on loaning me some pictures.
We are trying to raise money for a printer. The cheap ones don't do a good job. A rather expensive is best in the long run. We take pictures to have them enlarged at a cost of over a dollar each. We could enlarge pictures for nominal fee for people in our District as a service. We have some good pieces of equipment.
In the near future there is hopes for trac-lites. Presently the Class pictures on the wall are hard to see. Many people have tried to view pictures, but can't see them too well. I feel that the community residents are entitled to better things. We started the Historical room at no cost to, but a few. Time has provided us with several pieces of equipment for our needs as well as cash donations. New comers will say, "I've heard about this." It's unbelievable when you really view it.
I have met many people and they are countless that live else where. Hardly a week goes by with out contacts out of State. Some we don't answer due to stamps being a scarce item. Seldom is there a dollar bill in a query that want an answer. These class reunions really enjoy what we have. Some classes take up an offering. Very recently there was a family re-union at the Radom Park. Most were Ashley people at one time. Their offering was $160. They plan to do it every year. What would happen if all family re-unions did this? We could purchase a lot of things for your Ashley Library Historical room. Every one should do this. RIGHT? Right!
There is a large pig (Ceramic) at the PUB. It's near the register where meal tickets are paid. He is in the right place to receive your change. That pig is hungry. Don't pass him by. We have a large ceramic pig at the Library for the same purpose. Loaned from Darrell Thomas. We need three more Ceramic Piggy Banks. Large ones.
We need an energetic person to start a small museum. The Library has a few pieces. Most recently there was a donation of a 1957 Ashley Ball teams warm up jacket Recently we came by a 1879 Washington County History of Washington County. In front is donated by. It's at the library and some can say, "I wonder where they got that." We have a lot of things and you to can say, if you visit the library, I wonder where they got that. Come see us. You are not taking advantage of important things about Ashley.
How well do you remember your childhood? I remember the cold winters. How dad put a shovel in the kitchen to remove snow. I have seen snow drifts six foot high. Many times it would snow in November and not melt until April. Not very much, anyways. Wind was always blowing and forcing snow in every nook and cranny. Many houses had cracks in the walls and broken windows, so the snow crept in. Many times we had slow rains and the temperature was below freezing. As time went on trees became trees of ice and limbs would snap off with a crash. The ponds in town froze to a depth of ten inches and most everyone had ice skates. A pond would get the snow removed and a skating party was in line. A big fire was built from tree limbs and you could warm between skating sessions. Skating lasted late into the night.
These were some of the bigger ponds, but there were smaller ones also. Toppings pond was on Greenup Street. The Electric Light pond was on the corner of Second and White street. The Mill pond was east of the Baptist Church. Ice blocks were sawed from toppings and stored for summer use. When the streets iced over, we ice skated to school. Snow days were unheard of. Many area pupils lived on sixty acre farms and walked several miles to School. A few were fortunate enough to be brought to school in a wagon pulled by a team of horses.
My wife Mary went to a country school. The children had transportation. Three children rode to school on an old gray mule. He let them off each morning, returned home. The same would return each after noon and carry them home. This animal was a retired mine mule that had worked underground for twenty years.
Ashley about a hundred years ago had 1800 people. It had a hundred or so small farms. They raised hay and corn and no more than twenty bushel to an acre. They had horses, cows, pigs and fowls. The children had jobs to do before and after school. They were called chores. They fed chickens and gathered eggs, slopped the pigs, milked and fed cows and cleaned stalls. They fed horses. These animals were not allowed much food. Horses ate seven ears of corn and some hay. Horses eat the corn and leave the cob, but cows ate it all. Cows don't have front teeth. Geese shovel corn and chickens eat one grain at a time.
Barns usually had some cats and a black snake or two. They kept the premises rodent free. They were fed a little milk as a reward for their work. Barn sparrows were always around. Snakes ate their eggs and cats ate the birds.
How often do we see a horse or a mule? A flock of white Leghorn laying hens, a boy or girl milking a cow? Some one fed a bucket of water and Ship Stuff mixture to pigs. Putting timothy hay in a manger for horses or a cow eating a bucket of bran and some cow peas?
School children ride Buses. Not like the first one Bill Heck drove from DuBois area. A ton flat bed truck with a box built on. It was better than walking. The Shurtz kids and others rented rooms in town. Right Madyline? Some students walked three miles each way daily. In all kinds of weather. Those were the days. . . It was a way of life. People did things to eat, keep warm, eat and I'll call it a key to survival.
This week I came across a picture of Dr. Claude J Sanders. He was being graduated from Medical School in St. Louis. My first recollection of his practicing medicine. He practiced on delivering me and I entered into our Great country.
I remember being in his office. Its' location was on the second floor above the Ashley bank. The steps we used seemed like going on a long journey. Some years passed and I learned to read. On the waiting room door was a new sign. Please enter and be seated. There was a sign inside that said, "Doctor is in". Occasionally the doctor would open his door and say, "Next please." Most times a whole family entered.
This room had a high ceiling, that being the style in those days of yester-years. Hanging from the ceiling was an electric light, just one mind you. It was a small bulb and the room was dimly lighted. The summers cooling system was hand held fans. The faster you waved them the more hot air would blow off a bit of the perspiration. Winters warmth was provided you with heat from the stove. It was rather large and around it set coal buckets filled to the brim with coal from the DuBois mine. Another coal bucket was laden with ashes. Charles or Nelson Coleman filled them every evening and swept the room. Some of the times they dusted the table and chairs. Old magazines adorned the table. Many people could enjoy the pictures. Many adults were illiterate. During office hours he saw patients. A patient would leave his office and he would say, "whose next?" A parent would arise trying to manipulate several crying and sniffling into the office. One by one they were examined. Many times after fever was tested, then opening of the mouth and saying, "Aaaaahhhh" you had your examination. Most times it was a bad cold and fever, Dr. Sanders gave instruction saying " am giving you some fever medication, some Calcidina tablets and cough medicine and Sip it often as needed. All take the same pills. Go home and go to bed. Stay in bed and when I make house calls tomorrow I will drop in on you. You ought to be better. " I always welcomed the part of missing a weeks schooling. He made house calls by walking, some times by horse back and times in a spring wagon.(Those were days when doctors came to homes for treating a patient.)
At later years he purchased an automobile and used it weather and roads permitting. Doctor used both means of transportation and later a car took over. Fred Sherman was his first driver and Harold Schubach was the second one. His horse barn on East Second Street was torn down and moved to his farm. Clarence Schubach said the barn on the premises was built in part from Doctors horse barn in town. To this day as you drive by the remains of the Schubach farm you can still view part of the barn.
Walking and riding a horse is only a remembrance of by gone days. Some walks still exist that were built in the 1920 era. Many houses have brick walks in front of the residence unknown to the owner. People used walks because roads were knee deep in mud.
Those times were very slow. We did not need very much. We did not have to be any place at a certain time. We didn't know the meaning of appointments. Tomorrow was much like yesterday.
Just today I received a story from my nephew in Colorado and it had many interesting points and it caused me to do another friendship thing. It had a fork involved and it set me to thinking.
In one way or another the loss of friendship comes too all. The high way of life is strewn with many wrecks. We think nothing can happen to our friendship. There are storms and collisions. We think that these things cannot happen to me. I concur that accidents happen to the best of us.. There are certain pathos in all losses, but there is not always pain. Many are unavoidable I reckon you lose a friend naturally. The loss is out of our control and we say finally its' in the hands of God. I am to the opinion that some loss of friendship may mean gain. Some children or most of them grow into adulthood. We gain a different class of friends. We begin thinking about our way of life. The friends we once had were casual. We had friends for years at work and never met their spouse. After working years we never saw them any more. I am thinking they were the kind of friends were for mutual convenience. When it came to an end it was a friend that served a purpose. Kind of like retiring from work. I missed work about two days. Some friendship leaves with the death of a partner and that is a friendship you cannot easily forget. Lest I forget the story about a friend passing. Pre-arrangements were all made, but she wanted a fork in her right hand. The reason being that when meals were served at family gatherings the host said "Save your fork." That met the best of all was still to come. The story this lady was portraying with the fork, even though death had claimed her body, the best was yet to come. ( I read this fork story in anothers writings.) I meet people who and where is a rare occasion. Their leaving words are, "If I don't see you any more I'll meet you on the other side."
Some of these friendship partings don't jerk out our feelings by the roots. We can go our separate ways with out much loss or regrets. Many of us lose friends as we call them, but our life in not much poorer due to the loss. A man came by the house asking about first grade teachers and pupils of sixty five years go. Mrs. Stroube was the teacher. She was a students friend who cannot be for gotten and she is now 105 years of age.
I can tax my memory and can't remember very many of my schooldays friendships. I can remember what caused the separations. We say the world has many stages and we forgot about the players. I have said times before Miss Addie Woodrome was a friend of anyone who sat under her teaching. Teaching isn't done the old time way. Children don't know about the friendly paddle, the friendly pointer, the friendly face slapping, but she was an un-noticed a friend. When schooling is over the chance of gaining a life time friend becomes less. Cares of the world uses up the precious connections. We seem to remember the friends of our youth. Was it because I was less cautious? I am thinking it becomes a little more difficult to give him self to another in later years. I guess we kind of let the younger years friendships lapse. Life goes on. Life differs and so does friendships.
I look for material for the Historical room at the library and many brings back friendship memories. Some I cannot locate and one is the board that was between the bank and Laundromat. In 1940 Jessie Spear lettered the names with all Ashley area whom had gone to war and a gold star was placed by he ones that lost their lives. No pictures available.
The older I get I find out about all I have is memories. I am me, myself and I. I enjoy many things and I reckon my Church ranks way on top of my list.
I enjoy History and that is the reason I spend so much time at the Ashley Library Historical room. I have so many stories to tell and most are true.
I want to name some things that made for a fun time years ago. One boy in town had about every thing he desired, even though it was in depression times.
This young man got a bicycle for Christmas. It was called "a well" dressed. bike. I don't remember the maker. The frame was kind of heavy and there were two top bars on its frame. The tires were extra large and were called balloon tires. The brakes were on the front wheel as well as the rear. The tires rims were shiny and may have been stainless steel. The spokes of the wheel were also very shiny. The front axle had a little leather ring that kept the wheel from dust build up. On the front fender that was extra wide and two toned painted. On this fender was a light and it contained a battery with a switch on top. On the bikes frame was a small generator and light was furnished while you pedaled it. A generator was very important, so one was installed 0n the front wheel. Also mounted on the handle bars and it was in the center was a spot light The rear view mirror was on the right side and it was rather large. You could really see behind. There was a bell crowded onto the handle bars. The rear fender was equipped with a light. Mud flaps were on the rear. In the center was a red reflector. A large book rack was on the back. This was equipped with a leather strap to keep books from falling off. It doubled as a dog rack. Many a small dog rode when he got the balance mastered. Attached to the handle bars was a large wire basket. It was kind of a carry all. The bicycle had a fancy seat. Pure leather and it also had extra springs for an easier ride. The chain guard was important. On one of the bars was a bracket and it held an air pump. There was a tiny tool pouch that held a Screw Driver, an adjustable Wrench and a Hammer. A small can of tire patching material and a flat bar with narrow edges to help remove a tire. Many times the bottom of the legs of the trousers became entangled in the drive sprocket. On each pedal was a small red reflector. This bike was not to lay on the ground so it was equipped with a kick stand. None was fully equipped without playing card attached by a clothes pin to give it that click-click noise. Attaching four playing cards in different places so as to hit bike spokes gave off a purring sound when pedaled at high speed. That was a Bike with class. High Class. Can't you just imagine seeing this piece of art.
Since we are talking Cycles. A child of five and older needed a Tricycle. It had three wheels. The large wheel in front did all the work. It was pedaled it and was the power. Every family had one and they eventually wore out. Some were equipped with places to stand on the back axles. Several benefited from it.
I like the big Harley Motorcycles. I liked a low rider with a twelve hundred. One of the most enjoyable rides. Many years ago a Methodist Preacher gave the oldest member of the Church a ride on her ninety third-birth day. What a joy for her and one to be remembered I believe it was a high spot in her life.
She has long ago left this world. You have missed much if you have never driven a big Harley or a Gold Wing. What a joy to ride along at the speed limit and the breeze hitting you in the face. What a great feeling. Deceased son Jim owned a bunch of Motorcycles. Son Larry enjoyed those big bikes. Me? You better believe it. Little air planes were fun.
Its' been many years ago. Grand Parents.I knew they both tired of me. Grand paw would work in his spacious garden. I would go with him sometimes, but he was always looking for a way to get rid of me. He would carry a little brown jug of water and when he was thirsty he could drink with out riding him self of a tobacco chew. He would offer me water, but I would not drink after him. When I got too thirsty for water I would go home. He used many gimmicks to get rid of me. There was one that frightened me most. Here Son. Hold this hoe. You might need it. I just seen a snake go into that hole. I wanted to go back to the house. He knew how to work things out. Hey Son, your grandma is calling. I bet she has a hot bun covered with jelly and butter waiting for you. I was so thirsty it took little begging. I ran all the way to the house and granny would ask, "Did gramps send you back here?" I thought no one loved me. Moms working, Grand pa sends me to the house and granny sends me back to him. Dad was busy raising double breasted, four legged and four winged chickens. He was an old time Fiddle player. His services were needed at dance parties to.
Grand paw was my favorite for he told me many stories. They sounded so real and he said they were. He was in a Calvary regiment during the Civil war. He trained the best horses for the Generals and the Captains. He knew the officers so well he was allowed to call them by their first names. He showed me the gift watch he always carried. He was always rewarded for his expertise. He was given expensive things. In fact the farm we lived on once belonged to a High Ranking general and he rewarded gramps with this for helping them win the Civil war. He told it so well is reason enough to believe it was the truth. I will remember it forever.
Many time as gramps was telling a story and during the most interesting part, Grand ma would say, "Careful what you tell that boy. He will believe every word you say."
I liked rainy days for gramps would say, "Let's go fishing.A" I was always ready. I always kept a can of Earth worms in the shed in a cool place. Our fishing poles were cared for and all were tied in one bundle. I carried the worms and grandpa carried the gear. We arrived at the big creek and he taught me the spots where fish were hiding. I liked to fish in the rain and we nearly always brought fish home. I remember grandma asking about the trip. He always had the let the big one got away story. One time she asked, "Son, is grand dad telling the truth?" I surprised him by saying, "He is lying. I let the biggest one get away."
My grand mother could fry the best fish I ever tasted She had a frying pan full of hot pork fat and when the temperature was just right she dropped some well covered pieces with meal and spices and cooked it such a short time. My, my, was it good. I like the onion rings she made during the frying of the fish. I have searched many years for the fish cooking recipe. I tried to remember and I determined my tasting has changed.
I kind of gave up on ever finding the original recipe. I sat in the old chair many times that was grand pas favorite for many years. My wife always said , "If you don't fix that old chair, you will fall through and be on the floor." The chair fell apart. On a board from the bottom I found the "fish" recipe. Grand pa had burned it onto a board with a red hot stove poker. Now I have a real recipe for fried fish, but no desire to go fishing. Thanks Gramps. I miss you as much today as I did in during my child hood Eighty years ago. I have wished for other people to have a grandpa like mine.
It's getting to be that time of the year! Eighty years ago I remember all about storms. Seemed like with out them there would have been little excitement. Night storms were more frightening. After going to bed, nothing could wake me except the afar off rumble of thunder. It seemed like hours before the thunder got louder and my Dad, John McCoy had it timed just right when he would call out, "You kids get up. There is a bad storm brewing." We would gather in the living room and he would say,"Have you got on all your clothing on, I think we might get blown away." Uncle Bert Flanagan and Aunt Celli visited us much of the time so when it thundered a little they would be at our house. Uncle always carried a coffee cup and asked if we had any coffee left. I believed my parents made a gallon. The pot was always on the stove and simmering. When the last drop used, more was made. A cup full of coffee to a gallon of water.
The back door rattled and we all jumped with fear, but dad would say, "That's Bert and Lucille. Don't be afraid." Dad had to remove a chair he had placed under the doorknob and let them in. Uncle would say, "Going to a bad one, John. Looks like we might get blown away this time." You never seen Uncle without a cup and he would go to he stove and pour himself a cup of coffee.
Soon the wind started blowing stronger and dad would yell, "Under the bed." All children were experts at diving under the bed. After a few blasts of strong wind we got the 'all clear sign'. We came out and headed for our beds and uncle and aunt decided they would stay in case the storm came back. They slept on the floor and when morning arrived they would have breakfast with us. This was always expected. I have heard it said about uncle because he worked so little. Dad always said that Bert was too heavy for light work and to light for heavy work. .
Day storms were different, so to survive was taken over by the women of the house. All men were working with the exception of Uncle. Ladies got the storm on its way early. They would talk in small groups and say, "This day is sure stuffy. This wind is going to blow up a storm. It was hazy when we got up and that's another good sign." They would agree. Next some one would say the old laying hens are staying close to the chicken house. That's a good sign. Another would chip in, "look at the cows. They are grazing with heads to the South east. That's a sure sign." One might say, "I looked at the Old Farmers Almanac. It said storms for today." After all the didja hears and didja knows they separated for the kids would be home for lunch from School.
Some time after lunch it seems as if storm clouds were gathering and that was reason for the ladies to walk around and wait for thunder. After a bit some one thought they heard thunder afar off and there was a darker cloud in the west. They visited some more and one would say, "Didja see that? I think I saw a flash of lightening." Mrs. Shanks red chickens headed for the hen house. Another storm sign.
The situation was carefully observed. The clouds were getting darker and they had a green streak. The storm was getting closer. Oh! I hope it doesn't hail. My garden will be ruined. My tomatoes are just now setting on the vines. My green beans are blooming. I have small cucumbers, but it won't matter. The beetles will get them. That wind is picking up so some one would say "I wish my kids were home. If we get blown away, we could go together." The storm came a bit closer. Soon it passed by. Nothing to do but wait for another storm. What fun it was to live in Tornado Alley.
Old timers and they are few can tell about making cane syrup and Sorghum molasses. I remember a family that made sorghum molasses. The way it was made never looked very appetizing. There had to be a beginning. Spring time found farmers planting cane. It was well cared for and as soon as crisp fall weather "set in" it was Sorghum makin' time. Each plant had to be stripped of its' leaves and this was hard work. Some farmers chose to burn it off. There would be a day when the wind was blowing right the field was fired. This made for dirty cane cutting, but after it was cut and be-headed and layer on a sled or put in a wagon box it was to the sorghum mill.
This was quite an operation for man and mule plus the helpers. The day began around day break or earlier, some times four in the morning, The operation began with a mule at the end of a long pole and as he plodded along cane was fed into a squeezer. This squeezer consisted of rollers. The cane was fed by hands and the juice came out. When enough juice provided it was cooking time. This may be the time too add there were different kinds of cane. Cane syrup and sorghum was cooked off in much the same way. Jerod Kyser sells cane syrup in Atmore Alabama. It is very good and it's a secret where he purchases the product. As I say, "The best in the west, Excuse here it is the South."
I prefer Sorghum because I was raised on it. The last tasty sorghum came from South East Missouri and that was several years ago.
I have watched the mills with the big pans and the green scum that was removed while cooking wasn't very appetizing in appearance. Cook and skim, cook and skim was the order of the day. The finished product was put in eight pound containers.
I like this part of Alabama. I am guessing this town has approximately Eight Thousand people and by exaggerating it seems like there are eight hundred places of business.
I have learned to eat turnip greens called turnips. Collards and mustard greens. Red beans and rice. I have never seen any scaly bark hickory nuts and no black walnut trees all around, but lots of Pecans. I have never seen a white squirrel. I have never seen a black squirrel either.
I watch for big cats, Emus, bears and it seems like there are enough Armadillos to go around. I never see a rabbits. We say, "Where do all these rabbits come from?".
I have not seen snow in ten years. That I don't miss. I know children in South Alabama don't get to enjoy a foot of snow and use schools closings on snow days,or a two days rain in twenty degree weather. The snapping of trees limbs breaking due to being ice laden. Can you live with out 4 buckled over shoes, sheep skin coats, sleds, Snow mobiles, ten inches of ice on ponds, Bon fires, Weiner roast and ice skating parties. Well, try to think about high humidity days with temperatures over a hundred for weeks.
Southerners know little about 'Hog Killun Days' and these days start after cold weather begins. Many do butchering any time after the 25th of November. All things afore mentioned are finding there way out. Seasons change little. We expect all things in stores. It's easier to but than grow our own.
A thing of note is buying four legged fryers in meat markets. Double breasted Fryers. I have mentioned before how McCoys were the first to raise them. All who believe what I said. Write me and I will do a story on them.