A series of articles written by :
Wilbert "Bucky" McCoy for :
( Ashley, Illinois )
DuQuoin, IL 62832
September 2, 2008
Time is getting short and if we have any interest people that have pictures better be bringing them. I know that the circulation of this paper isn't too great, but its high time we need search out these things while a hand full of people have heard about. Many things I inquire. People have never heard . I ask about Ashley Cooperage and no one knows what it is, let alone where it was located. Location: Wentworth and Washington Street. This facility made baskets, Strawberry Boxes, Apple Barrels for the greater part. Apple drying establishments. There were three. Trevor Setzekorn told me of hauling two wagon loads of apples a day to have them dried. Peaches were also dried.
Not many people left that know these corn fields, bean fields a wheat field had large acreages of peaches and apples. I have seen a 40 acre strawberry patch. Most farms had a pond. Some small, some large and they were needed. One of the needs for water was to mix spray for fruit orchards.
Most ponds were occupied with gangs of geese and these geese served many purposes. Their swimming kept the pond from completely freezing and livestock had water. There was a certain time to gather geese and remove some feathers. Most people have never seen pillows stuffed with feathers no s huge "feather tick" stuffed full and put on a bed. Instead of a mattress the sleeping bed was padded with feathers or straw. Many beds used both.
Most places had grape arbors. Many people were excellent at making wine. Clara has told me of the huge amount of wine her father manufactured. Recently May told of making 42 pints of grape jelly. No way of my knowing, but I am sure it was of top quality. Many of us liked plum jelly. These were grown in half the people yard in town. We lived for forty years where the Ashley Library is setting in 2008. We had three red plum trees, one green gage plum tree, a pear tree. An apple tree. Also a full lot was in garden.
I read recently a 1964 old farmers almanac about how to do some gardening and how to raise some spices. The tried to tell how much money it would save a family to raise all this foodstuff.
Many families were large. A lady in Ashley, Illinois had 17 brothers and Sisters. Cooking for that many was at least fifty meals a day. It isn't any wonder the grates in the old kitchen stove burned out. Kids saying, "Mom, I am hungry." Can you picture fixing this amount of food with out a refrigerator? I know why people ate so many great northern beans. I know why people raised hogs for winter meat. There were usually thirty six laying hens. Two milk cows to care for. Do you remember taking a quart fruit jar half filled with cream and how you shook it until it turned to butter. Many times you did more than one.
It is easy to say. "You could do that while you watched T.V. Listened to the radio." I well remember no Television, no radio, no air planes, no busses, But their were trains. You could ride for five cents. Few people had five cents. This was called the good old days. Let the good times roll
The history Room is what it is by people giving money when asked. I am about to believe that some things were not correctly done but We didn't know any other way. Rail roaders remember the most important rule in the book. Or they better know when upper management ask the question "what is the most important rule in the book?" It's been sixty five years ago when I knew the rule. I still remember. "In case of uncertainy or doubt, the safe course must be taken." The rule book was written in language we all could understand. Most every work day the foreman would read a rule at days begininng. There were times when people in authority might show on the job and ask what was the most important rule in the book. Hourly workers knew it. Some times they wanted to know what the Foreman had read for the rule of the day. Those were dark ages, HUH?
Some of the new age rules differ. We had Rules when I was supervising people at the Candy Factory. Fine workers. "The best in the West I would say." It was important for the hourly people to meet the daily goal with the best piece of Candy that could be made with ingredients provided. These 400 people were a proud lot. Hard working, honest with a desire They worked as a team. Likes and dislikes had little bearing on their progress. Virginia and Kathy were count keepers of production. They were so particular they had to know about every candy bar.
This group knew the meaning of safety and sanitation. They knew the importance of a good product. They practiced this. Was it dark ages rule or not?? We didn't have injuries. We didn't have an unclean product. The work place was clean to perfection by Keith and crew.
This facility had one of best records in all departments. I am going to do a story on the Candy Factory.
Not a day goes by but I think of these people. I keep thinking that more need to hear about the Library and Historical department. The Books and History is awaiting there viewing. I am interested in all this. You could be too. Snuffy Smith used to say to Loezy that times awastin. So if you want me to tell you area History, you better hurry for I am almost ninety and I don't have much time to waste.
Buy a paper for eighteen dollars. All stuff on page two is worth more It also tell how to subscribe. Buy it for Santy Claws to deliver.
Nearing going home time as we waited anxiously for mothers, the crying had subsided. Most of the crowd determined school wasn't too bad. Tears were gone and our faces had been wiped clean and we had learned how to print our name, Sing the song "America" and could go to the bathroom all by our selves. Not bad at all and I thought mother should have sent us last year.
The day nearing an end allowed mothers inside to pick up their children. That time was now and what a display of love. I am not sure who was happiest. Mothers to see their children or children to see mom. Time to leave and most children ran back to hug Miss Truesdale. We all walked to our homes because our parents did not have automobiles. Cars had not been around very long. We lived on fifth street. This was three blocks from the School.
I had a restless night, but I wanted to see Miss. Truesdale again. I could hardly wait to leave for school. Soon I was there. The room was rapidly filling with same students and same mothers. We didn't have any crying students today and I was learning a variety of things.
I ask, "Did I go to school in olden days?" Girls had long hair and so did most of the boys. Girls were wearing dresses below shoe tops. Many boys wore Knickers. Knee high pants. .Many boys wore new overalls. Shoes were ankle high. Blouses and shirts were different. Our drinking water came from a well equipped with a pump. Toilets were outside, lunch time was to eat a sandwich and choose a friend, egg sandwich seemed popular. We were surprised occasionally with cheese asandwich . We had little time to eat. This was fun time.
We lived together for eight years, We lost friends, gained friends and perfect grades were important. It was a goal, We were graduated after eight years and some students had learned very much and a few were no so fortunate.
I remember the teachers. Some were strict. Some were lenient. Those were days when teacher in my school for disobeying her rules punished students. Many are the times I was whipped with a paddle. A razor strop, or a hit across the back with a pointer or yardstick. I have spent many hours standing in the room's corner, standing in the coat room or supply room. The bad punishment was being sent to the Superintendents office. It always seemed like he was watching you.
Miss Addie taught me more than any grade school teacher. She "Whupped" me the most. May be she "beat" my education in my head.
I may just stay with Genealogy. This past week I have several queries about people who lived here a hundred years ago. I try to answer them either by computer or regular mail. Here is a example. What can you tell me about Van Irwin Smith. Seems like there is always a need for information on a boarding house. I found about Krusa for a man in the east. They are interred in Logan Cemetery. Some one is looking for history on Ralph Pate. There was a need for a picture of the Golden Rule Grocery. The year being 1938 asks a question. How many places in Ashley sold gasoline three gallons for fifty cents or was it seven gallon for a dollar. The answer is fourteen. Can you name any men who would deliver a bag of grain with horse and Wagon? I could name six. One thing that I can't find is the progress Pigeon Farm. During the great depression I listen to men tell what a scrumptious meal they had eaten One supper was a pair of nice squabs. (The are young Pigeons). I have a list of Ashley residents that lived in Ashley at one time or another. Now I say to my self, "Self, What happened to a certain family?" Not many around that knows an answer. I use to ask Trevor or Clarence and they knew. May and I are the only ones left with a good memory. Well, all I can think of. I am doing some biographies.. I think they have been a great addition to the Ashley Area.
Since not a few buy the Ashley News, then time is wasting away. I looked in the last reunion book of Ashley High and not many are around. Gone, gone, gone some place else. Moved to another part of the world and doing what. I have a grand daughter who teaches foreign languages. She teaches school in Australia. Subject is English. That subject is a foreign language to a lot of people.
Just to think of the population with three medical doctors. Three dentist for more than two times the present population. A large newspaper, The Washington County Gazette with thirty two pages. This paper was loaded with news and advertisements.
We were a town full of proud people that followed the schools sporting events, Paul Daniels all school band. The show he put on every Saturday night. Second to none. Now I can't find a picture of the band stand. Oh well, can't win them all. In another item I listed favorite teachers.
Did you know Vi Stroube is one hundred six? I am thinking Vi and Mrs. Morange taught first and second grades. They kept the same students for two years.
I often wonder why people in the Deep South play a variety of instruments. Most "play" the instrument. There are many piano players, but few "plunkers". Musicians have the idea it's a privilege. They do their job well. A large percentage attends church services. Many church buildings seat three hundred and I like it when chairs have to be furnished to a standing room crowd.
I hear from members asking? "Mr. Buck, when are you coming back? We sure do miss you all." We don't seem to have a handle on our South Illinois worship services. I can't grasp what our problem is in our church. Rev. Ken at the Baptist Church delivers as good a sermon as you will hear anywhere. Brother Tom made the front page of the paper, and he leads the Methodist Church. There are ones that don't care for the worshippers in either Church. Many times I don't like me.
This reminds me of the Ashley News. How many people here in town read the local paper? The local paper of years gone by was called The Washington County Gazette, with lots of pages. I've got old papers at the library historical department. Come by and look at them. This was the time when things happened in Ashley. Five church buildings? Sure was, and they had worshipers too. I hear little from questions I ask. Little wonder. You don't subscribe to the Ashley News.
There are not many around who remember Bradley's Barber Shop as the news room. Now news happens, like the recent incident in the paper. Oh, I forgot. We don't subscribe to Ashley News. I never heard. Have our needs changed? No, not that much, but desires have. The church people don't have much to offer. This may be true. We all like to be where the action is. Action isn't, "I remember when." Well, I remember when I had fifteen in my Sunday school class, and I remember when Buck Berry had something once a month for the Church.
Remembering the Ice Cream Socials and how Charlie and others who wore white clothing, a few lights outside, a few gallons of ice cream, and a few nickels. Who called a nickel a 'nicher"?
I have been out of Washington County Illinois a few times and I have learned a few words used in a particular area. I guess that's Foreign language. I have learned the meaning of carry and tote. I can't go into too much detail because I am not an expert on this area language. I have been told by people in the deep south that I don't talk correctly.
I might mention Some hunters say, "Don't you kill that big Buck for the horns." It better be to put meat on the table for the old woman and the young uns. About seasons? Well, is there a season to make moon shine whiskey?
Some years ago you could harvest a lot of White geese. Not true for some hunters. If you can't eatum don't killum.
We have reports of people seeing big cats. Most sightings are not reported.. People laugh about it. Many remember J. D . L taking a bear in Jefferson County Illinois. W S saw a big black cat drinking from a pond. Bill S. He really seen one.
I have seen deer too numerous to count. There are some Bob Cats not too far from your house. I often wonder how many deer are fattened up for the hunters. Aren't deer wastefull? Do they eat half ear of corn? How many bushel of beans are lost, due to eating beans as they grew to maturity??
Early as 1940 there was a covey of Prairie chicken in the area. Remembering the big Quail in the area. They are not in this area today. How often do you see a Pheasant? Many birds are near extinction. Is it due to hunters? I doubt it. I have been told Coyotes favorite food is the eggs from a fowls nest built on the ground. Country Rabbits are seldom seen. They have little chance of surviving due to Coyetes find their nests, There isn't Easter Bunny Eggs, but rabbits have young in a small fur lined under ground holes. Now a days they have moved to town, Too few dogs around to excite a rabbit. A cat makes shot work of young rabbits. So: These rabbits have plenty of time to eat up the victory garden. Erect a fence to keep out rabbits. It hinders these garden predators. Mr. Raccoon could ruin a sweet corn patch in one night. .Mr. Raccoon has help. Mama and kits along with his relation.
The Fox Squirrel helps the raccoon eat the corn. He does more harm too. Some tomatoes getting ripe were sampled. He ruins many tomatoes in search of one that fits his tastes. How do you rid a garden of Squirrels? A Twenty-two rifle works right well. The old 16 gage is more accurate.
When I was small we raised organic food. You remember what was fertilizer? We de-bugged plants by hand. Some times we used a few pet bantam hens that were trained to eat insects. You don't believe me? Sure they were trained. Did you ever watch Strawberry geese work a berry patch? These geese never ate a strawberry. Were they trained?
I would like a short writing from Ashley students who remember this well loved man that most students called Pops. He always has something special to present to the citizens of Ashley.
Most of the students loved this class and you could see and feel the love band members had for each other. It had the appearance of love. Family Love. Not one small member was over looked. An older student seemed to have adapted a younger musician and watched over it with loving care. Mr. D was a built in baby sitter, but the students had instilled in their minds by him how important they were to the School Band.
The Ashley school system had an uncanny way of selecting good School teachers. I could name many, but the grade teacher whose name was Addie Woodrome made you learn and some times against great odds. I loved Nellie Truesdale, my first teacher.
I will tell about some classes I enjoyed. The only Orthography books I know of are in the hands of Mrs. D. This book was great for learning how to spell and learn definitions of words. I learned penmanship. I could write rather well as most students of the day could. I might throw this in. Two years ago I wanted to start a Penman Ship class at the Library. No takers. I really liked Spelling and to this day I can spell.
No one can remember the old six roomed Ashley School burning in 1913. The Ashley area people got busy and the new school was ready for attendance in 1916. The library has pictures of all the graduating classes from 1916 until the wrecking ball did its dirty work. The grade school is now teaching a school house full of grade school scholars on the same spot.
I remember those good old days. Many school buses brought loads of out of town children. This was the time a student drove the buses. The largest bus came from Irvington area and Louis (CedarFoot) Miller was the driver, Bill Heck drove Du Bois Bus .
Students bringing an auto was almost none. I have seen George Creel bring Luthers car on occasion.
In the late thirties Ashley had Tuition students. I remember some from Waltonville, Addiville, Okawville and others.
Ashley had more winning sports teams than any other local school. They won more than their fare share of any meet. Losing was so important that at an occasional loss, well girls cried for a week. Boys studied and practiced harder. Is there any late thirty players around besides Doe Houser?
I have read about these 100-pound women toting 200 pounds on their frail bodies over the Himalayan mountain trails. Rice is about all she has to fuel her body. There are a small amounts of simple foods is all that's needed. I don't have a clue why I can't do the same thing. There must be as many ways to prepare rice as we do using Zucchini. I would not desire a steady diet of either. Most of the vegetables and fruit I like. I probably don't eat three ounces of red meat daily. I like seafood. I think oysters are my favorite. I have been in restaurants and ordered oysters. They just came off the boat and waited until they were shucked.
I am not a lover of crawdads, but many people like them. Some try to call them seafood. I call them mudbugs. The Cray fish never saw a sea.
I am to the opinion we are going to develop a taste for food we once frowned on. I remember food I ate 85 years ago and now it doesn't taste right. I remember the first homogenized milk. I said, "Mom: This milk is spoiled." She answered, "That's all we have. Drink it or leave it." Have you tried raw milk? I can't stand the taste of it. Few families have a cow to provide milk. If you care to know chickens don't lay range eggs we were raised on organic foods and did know that we were eating the best. Organically grown.
Some people in other countries live on certain foods that don't tickle our pallets. I think of bananas. Years ago I saw a banana boat being unloaded. Lots of bananas. I am not fond of coconut. Many people that have eaten them from child hood buy them at the grocery store.
My favorite food is green beans, Parsnips, tomatoes and just about every thing. Not all sweet corn is supering delicious. I like turnips, collard greens, and many more. I am out of cooking pots at my house The one I have put in garbage cooked a vegetable too long. I put something on to cook and part of the recipe was, "Lay down and rest your eyes. The short nap was too long. The house was full of smoke."
Fresh out of garden is the time to use vegetables. Some countries sell as soon as ready because refrigeration is scarce. Most of us put it in the frige and let it cold spoil. Most of us have Room for three tomato plants, a squash hill. I remember the victory garden during the war. There were little foodstuffs in the stores. Many families raised a lot of garden and canned it for winters use Many times near the end of winter many families put them selves on less food until the gardens came on. That may be why I like wild greens. Many find it difficult to believe. Food shortage.
She lived on the edge of town and was fond of gray mules. Daddy Roy worked in a coal mine and the same gray mule pulled his coal car for twenty years. Roy loved this mule so much that it was an insult to say any thing bad her. My wife Mary told me many mule stories. The all family of girls thought they were like a good luck charm, of which they all had bracelets and necklaces with mule charms attached..
Mary was twelve years younger than any one in the family and liked to learn. Well there was an exception. Fixun meals, She loved to work the mules doing farm work. These mules seemed to have a special affection toward her. Did not farm much. Just raising enough food for the animals. The flock of chickens ate a lot of grain. We received eggs.
Daddy Roy retired from the mines and as going away gift, the company gave him the gray mule to be his very own. They wondered how they could get the mule up the shaft. They pondered and finally decided on this and said, "Roy, that's your mule. You figure how to get that mule on top. You know he is your property. All the time before the day of retirement miners would say, "Good luck Roy, heh heh. Roy would smile and say, "Let me worry about.
The retirement day came to get the mule on top. Lots of lip service but Roy said, "I don't need your darned help. I don't want any thing-don't need nothin'. Just get out of my way. He called the mule by name and in a few minutes the mule appeared. . Mine mules knew nothing about bridles and worked by command. That was part of training.. They had one master. Roy said to the mule, "If your ready lets go. They walked to the mine cage and Roy said, "Set down and wiggle on. This he did, but only a half hour of squirming. Roy spoke to the mine boss. Have the hoisting engineer to take us up won't take me but a minute to crowd on. "Letter rip," said Roy and they moved slowly to the top.
No mistakes, no mishaps and in a wink of an eye they were on top. Roy said to the mule. "You just set there a minute. We aint ready yet." After all was settled down Roy said, "all right Honey you can wiggle off the cage." Wiggle and squirm and she was off.
He said "Get up on yer feet" and after a few attempts she was up and he said "giddy up a bit". This mule walked about ten feet and stopped.
What a mule. Put me in mind of Pat's dog "Carnocker" He had the run of the town, but never bothered any body and had many friends. Grand kids rode him to school. He pulled a plow to make gardens, ate grass off lawns, I liked the little saddle bags mom made to carry groceries home. She would clip on a note of what she wanted. Order filled and he would bring it home. The store owner wanted to hire him full time. Roy said "no way" "She is retired" "He was a Her".
The building was small, but there wasn't enough men to fill the jobs. Women were mustered into mens jobs. Very soon there wasn't any jobs for men or women. The jobs were for any one who could handle them.
The first piece of candy was wrapped by hand. Some workers could wrap twenty five bars per minute. They were paid according to the number of pieces that were wrapped. This function was called "piece work."
This candy was hand made due to several reasons. The main one was in the early nineteen forties we were still in an ancient era, so to speak. No automatic machinery.
Ingredients were mixed, stirred with wood paddles and cooked by thermometers to gage the heat. That was why people who cooked the product were called "Candy Makers." Each employee had a title.
A word about ingredients and how time and values have changed. Egg whites came in thirty pound cans and this was frozen solid from thirty dozen eggs. Purchasing people bought a years supply. It was noised around eggs from a flock of chickens in the Spring made the best candy. Corn syrup was brought in fifty gallon barrels. Not always was it the exact needs because some was used for hard candies and some for soft nougat centers. This was the time that it was determined that sugar must be cane sugars, received in one hundred pound bags. Oil that was needed came from different sources. Not much animal fats. Chocolate came in fifty pound bags for cooking. Chocolate for bar covering was purchased in ten and twenty pound blocks. These were broken into smaller pieces and put in melting kettles. Later it was spread onto the finished bars or goods as we then called. They were enrobed and hand decorated.
There was more to making a bar than meets the eye. Every thing was by exact formula. Many manufactured products can't be made by a Recipe. Refrigeration is required to make this product. Ammonia was the coolant for these times it did an excellent job
Candy was a life saver for many families. With grand pa and grand ma working one shift and other family members working it made for a tidy income. The hourly wage was small. Very likely many workers by todays' standards would be too young or too old.
I worked in the Candy business for many years. I have been asked by younger people if I remember when? The Ashley Candy facilities closed in the early 80-s. Nothing left but a dilapidated building. Some years ago it housed hundreds of birds. These birds for the most part gave up also. The Ashley elevator closed and the bird seed supply was cut off. Those were the days and gone forever. Nothing left but memories.
Speaking of gifts. What did you enjoy the most seventy five yeas ago. I got a ball glove and was so happy, but a friend took it home and my father got it. It was gone six weeks. I don't know which time made me happiest
Getting or giving. Some kids bought gifts for friends. They bought cigarettes for the price of a dollar forty nine for a carton of ten pack. Chewing tobacco was twelve cents for a large package. Bull Durham roll your own tobacco was five cents a bag. Free cigarette papers. This was an era when many people smoked, Some time grand Ma would have a few puffs of the clay pipe. I think it was supposed to have some sort of healing power. Maybe tooth ache or ear ache.
There was quite a "Doinz" for the coming of the New year. Many mid-nite parties and celebrations had been planned. Some Church denominations had New Year suppers. Beans, Corn bread and a drink was the mid night fare. Beans were a symbol of wealth for a new tear. Some places just waited for twelve O'clock to go away so they could go to bed.
Dad always put on the same little skit each year. Uncle Bert would say, "I would not miss it fir a hunered dollars." Nor would he pass up food and sandwiches. Neighbors came and brought food and a Chair. They anxiously waited for eleven thirty. That was starting time for thirty two minutes of top rate entertainment. Dad had a double barreled, 12 guage Winchester shot gun. Two shot gun shells one red and one green. He had emptied the bird shot from both to avoid injury to any one. He had an alarm clock set for twelve. He drank wine from a fruit jar. Well, sipping it. Walking and stomping and looking mean. Dad kept a careful watch on the clock and checking the time. At five minutes to twelve the red shell was put in the guns chamber. Dad started looking intensly.every where. At that time some body came in wearing old ragged clothing, bent over with age and dragging a scythe.. Dad hurridly took him to the kitchen door. Dad threw out the scythe and this old man He took the shot gun, fired the gun and yelled. "Outa here Old Year". He slammed the door, rubbed his hands together and loaded the gun with a green shell. He said, "I heard noise at front door", He hurridly opened the door. In walked a young man wearing shorts. Of al the bowing scraping of feet, smiles and dad said, "Welcome to our house New Year. Welcome, welcome, welcome." Dad got the gun and fired he green shell out the front door.
. The table had been set with new years goodies. Mr. New Year was placed at the head of the table and he drank the first cup of Egg Nog. Every one else poured their own. Plates were over filled with food. I was happy when dad led us singing, "He's a jolly good fellow," Soon fun time was over. Next we will have a repeat performance. Start making plans forthe next year performance.