Many have forgotten what it was to live like these people. A lot of people I know would not survive living in a world like this. But I have a feeling it will not be to long before we are back to having to live like this again. I hope and pray that young people can learn to live in the world like I grew up in.
A word that instantly awakens a longing for the mountains in the hearts of those who were born and reared here. In other minds; it brings a mental image of poverty, illiteracy, and just plain ignorance.
It all began in the remote coves of Jackson County in Western North Carolina for many; that lifestyle that involved a hard scrabble life, no nonsense theories and learning to survive the cold, hard facts of the world. Wars took the lives of many of the young men who were born here, and the families left behind learned to deal with the fact that likely there would never be any more money than they had at the time.
Mornings began early, there was a cow to be milked, breakfast to be cooked, and children to be readied for school, many of them barefoot by choice as soon as the sun began to warm the cold earth. School lunch was not provided by the government and those who could not afford the 15 or 20 cents needed for lunch carried a bag to school. Inside that bag, many times a bag left over after using all the sugar it contained, would be a biscuit with a slice of tomato, or a slice of home cured ham from a smokehouse that held the hams from hogs butchered and preserved. Nothing was wasted, the fat was rendered and used for cooking, soap making, ointment or waterproofing boots. Most people kept two hogs to be butchered around Thanksgiving and a community effort was shared by each family in turn. The meat was carefully preserved and sausage was ground and fried, then canned in quart Mason jars; the grease poured over it so that it was kept separated in the can. That lard was off white, and necessary to use for frying the sausage again when it was ready to be eaten.
Chickens provided eggs, and when the old hen stopped laying eggs, she became Sunday dinner. It was the task of youngsters to find where the “Old setting hen” was protecting her eggs which would later hatch out small chickens. Springtime brought the sounds of Gee and Haw, the right and left signals to the horse pulling the plow which would till a large garden.
Saturday was the time for preparations for Sunday morning. Shoes had to be shined, clothes ironed or pressed and Sunday best placed within easy reach. It was a time before TV, cell phones, computers and most homes had an old battery operated radio and “The Lone Ranger”, “Wild Bill Hickock” and the Grand Ole Opry was the entertainment center. Families who were blessed with any voices would blend to sing the old hymns, usually accompanied by an old organ, a guitar, banjo or “Juice harp” harmonica. “The Old Rugged Cross”, “Rock of Ages”, “Take it to the Lord in Prayer” could be heard floating on the air around many homes.
Those days are gone, gone like the ways of our grandparents, but our roots are here, wherever we roam; the memories still remain with us and a longing for a simpler, calmer, saner world flits though the minds of many.