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Back in time

Published: Thursday, June 15, 2017 3:43 p.m. CDT

The faintest glow of the coming dawn could be discerned in the east. Now and then fragrant breaths of stirring breezes also heralded the awakening of the farm and its inhabitants. In one of the old Roman Stem apple trees an early rising Robin gave a sharp chirp. A horse stamped his foot on the plank floor of the barn, snorting hay dust from his nostrils. Still the family slept. The old dog awakened from one of the catnaps he had taken now and then through the night. The darkness was pushed back moment by moment, colors appeared in the sky, mauve, purple, lavender, pink, faint yellow and streaks of red. The breeze quickened as light appeared in the sky. The first rays (hot) entered the east window.

Cows were bawling to be milked and for their calves. Pigs squealed and an old sow grunted along followed by a dozen little replicas of herself. Dad’s quick footsteps crossed the living and dining room floors, stove lids rattled as he laid the breakfast fire before putting on his shoes and hat and opened the screen door as he went out to do morning chores. Soon mother began to grand the coffee-the sound so familiar to our ears and the pleasant sensation of a final few minutes of relaxation as the grinding proceeded. Then coffee was purchased at the little Jamison store not far away.

As the work day began the older boys and girls began to straggle down stairs finishing donning the meager garments worn in hot weather. There were six boys and six girls although not all were at home at one time. Feet were usually bare and brown, but clean. Before retiring each must wash his feet in a bucket placed on the cement floor near the door and each must thoroughly dry his feet on some cast off shirt or other rag towel before he got between the sheets. Woe to the careless urchin who left dirty streaks or spots for Mother to notice. The next night he was sure to be singled out and carefully supervised and admonished as he washed his bare feet.

A peach sprout was always laying on the warming shelf above the kitchen stove as a stirring reminder to all wrong doers. Occasionally the wrong child got the licking but Mama said “probably needed it anyway”.

When the milking was finished, breakfast was ready. Table manners were observed. Bread was baked in large amounts. At one time it took a fifty pound sack of flour a week. Cornmeal was used nearly every day in making mush and cornbread. Sorghum was raised on the farm and taken to the mill to be made into molasses. Sometimes 30 gallons was brought home in jars and jugs.

We had great fun and the folks were with us if we didn’t interfere with work or destroy things.

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