Grandma Mellie's Scrapbook
Copyright © 2001, Michael S. Cole, M.D.

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Farm Life

    Away back when I was a girl, I have some fond recollections of how my father made money on his farm. He never worked on public works. As a matter of fact, there were no public works in that day in these parts.
    We were not wealthy by any means--moneywise. However, Papa ever was mindful of obtaining the necessities of life, material and spiritual. Our parents sent us to school for the five or six months term. They expected us to obtain a better education than they were able to get.
    We attended regularly and walked the mile and a half through all kinds of weather. If there came a deep snow, Father would take the team, hitched to a log, and break the trail.
    To get to my story--
    Father planted enough acreage to have a surplus to sell. He would plant enough cane to make 200 gallons of sorghum. He would sell 150 gallons and keep 50 for our use.
    Land was productive and one could expect a bountiful harvest. My brother and I loved to work in the field and help with any chore.
    Papa raised enough hogs for our meat to do from one "butchering" until the next one. We had chickens--sold eggs for six or eight cents a dozen.
    I remember the things we had to buy were not expensive. One could get calico and lawn for three to five cents a yard.
    My mother was a weaver of different things. We had sheep and she would card and spin the wool, making blankets, dresses, and yarn for knitting our stockings. She had lovely carpets on the floors.
    Sometimes she would weave carpets for others at ten cents a yard. I have sat for hours helping her thread the warp through a sley.
    At another time, we grafted 30,000 apple grafts for a local nursery. It took us the whole month of February, for which we received $30. There were four of us working. I wondered what my folks would do with so much money. They had no monthly bills and just a small tax on our land.
    Perhaps there would be a small doctor bill, but not often. Even then, probably he would take his pay in potatoes and many other things the farm would produce. The preacher would do likewise.
    Sometimes or in some years my father would plant peach seeds in the fall. In the spring, about June, we would "bud" the small trees. We would keep them a year and sell the young trees to a nursery.
    My mother also made baskets. We helped gather the vines of the buckbush. We would boil them three or four hours, then slip off the skin and trim the knots. Also we gathered honeysuckle vines. They make lovely baskets. It was a hobby of my mother's and she found ready sale for those baskets.
    The money was used to help educate her five children. Three became school teachers ... Me, I did not make a teacher. I loved the great outdoors too much. I did not want to be confined in a schoolroom. Our parents taught us to work and the value of money.
    It was not all work on the farm. We were happy, and our activities included skating in the winter on the big pond. At parties and singings a group would gather around an old-fashioned organ, singing hymns and love songs such as "Wildwood Flower," "Pretty Saro," "Tiny Blue Shoes," "Fanny Moore," "Steamboat Bill," "Casey Jones," and many others. The more mournful the tunes, the better we liked them.
    Always on Sunday our parents took us to church and Sunday school. Those were wonderful times. We had no cars, radios, shows, nor televisions. We were happy with the things we had. Young folks of today cannot realize what a happy childhood their grandparents had.
    We are so grateful for the heritage of the good influences affecting our life and development of character.

Mellie Peery
March 8, 1963

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