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

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    October is a beautiful month with warm days and cool nights. And what a beautiful sight when the leaves turn to crimson and gold!
    These parts are aptly named "the Beautiful Ozarks." Pehaps God did give it a little special treatment when He was busy creating the earth!
    When we were growing up many years ago, October was a busy time on the farm. The harvesting of crops, gathering corn, picking apples and peas kept us all busy.
    When father "laid by" the corn, he planted whippoorwill peas in the middle of the season. Picking them in the fall was a weary job. The rows seemed endless.
    All the farmers had large cane acreages and I well remember helping strip the leaves from the cane. Two wooden knives with notches cut like a saw blade were used. One held a knife in each hand and did both sides at one time.
    The cane was then cut and put in piles. The heads had to be cut and saved for the seed for next year's crop. It was quite a job, let me tell you.
    We children helped on Saturdays as we attended school weekdays. Our parents never kept us out of school to work, though some parents did. Neighbors would "swap" work when needed.
    The sorghum mill was on our farm and neighbors would bring their cane to the mill. My father built a stone furnace with a chimney. It was long and two or three feet high. The pan was placed on that, and wood was used to make the fire to cook the juice.
    It was fun to watch the horse or mule hitched to a tongue that pulled the rollers to extract the juice from the cane. The juice would then be put in the pan. Two men would have "skimmers" with holes in the bottom to take the foam off as it cooked. The men had to be expert molasses makers to know when the juice was cooked enough to pour off.
    I remember Mamma cooking for the "hands." We often took food to them as they couldn't leave the job of cooking the molasses. Mamma would bake a large pan of apples in the woodburning cook stove. She always had home baked bread. Usually, she would bake a ham and a pan of sweet potatoes along with other vegetables.
    It wasn't all work on the farm, though. We children had time for fun, especially gathering nuts. Do you remember chinquapins? There was an abundance of them. I haven't seen a chinquapin tree in a long time. My grandchildren have never seen one. Anyway, they grew in burrs, and when frost would come, the burrs would open and the nuts would fall to the ground.
    We had fun finding them and would have a game to see who could find the most. We always carried some to school to play "Hull Gull," one of our favorite games.
    Hazelnuts grew alongside old rail fences. Persimmons were good after a freeze. There were lots of wild grapes to gather for jellies.
    Farming is so different today. It seems it is all done with machinery. Cattle and hay are just about all one sees on today's farm. We seldom even see corn growing now. It used to be a source of food for both man and beast.
    Yes, October, with its warm days and cool nights, its changing colors on the hills, brings back many memories of other Octobers long ago.

Mellie Smith
October 1970

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