Spring is making her debut in the hills this week, although the cloudy skies and gloomy weather belies that fact. March is known to be tempermental, yet the mood so far has been sullen, with only a few fair days. However, there are definite signs of the coming of spring, with yellow daffodils (we always called them Easter flowers) and tiny crocuses blooming through the winter grass.
Spring peepers are trying their best to call forth spring, with their twilight serenade of shrill piping voices. They may have to bury back in the mud if the nights grow colder, yet we know that they will again throng the pond’s edge and sing their springtime song.
Easter is early this year, and it calls to mind holidays in the past when the weather was still cold. I think of Daddy, rising in the early morning frost to hide our colored eggs. Then we would run to and fro to hunt them, shivering as much from cold as excitement. We never thought then what a sacrifice it was for him to crawl out of a warm bed to hide eggs in the cold morning.
Mom had labored hard over our Easter dresses—dotted Swiss and organdy material with lots of ruffles, lace and bows. The cold wind would whistle around our skinny little shanks as we strode off to church in our black sandals and white anklets. Our everyday clothes were mostly made from printed feed sacks, but on Easter Sunday we were dressed in finery.
Our Sunday school cards would feature the sepulcher of Jesus, and the seals that we stuck on it would be white Easter lilies. Sometimes we would have baby chickens, or puppies to decorate the appropriate cards. I think of the teachers of the past—Hettie Brown, Hester Everson and Myrtle Oxley among others—and my heart is touched by the memory of these long ago ladies. Those were sweet, innocent days that are gone.
The foundation of our lives was built in those young days. We were brought up learning about Jesus and His love for us, and how our lives were to be molded by His example. These teachings have followed us all our lives, and have made us into the kind of men and women we are. It is sad that so many of our little ones are being brought up without any religious training at all.
Winter is dwindling away, and we’re not sorry to see it go. Although there have been many worse winters, this one seemed to drag along with so many gloomy, cold days without sunshine. There seemed to be a lot of sickness this winter, and Criss and I caught a flu germ more than two weeks ago.
Like the winter, the after effects seem to keep hanging on. We had flu shots back in the fall, but they didn’t have any affect of this particular bug. There was no argument of who was the sickest—we were both sick. For a couple of days we tried to help each other—sort of like the blind leading the blind.
The violent coughing was the worst symptom. I coughed until I couldn’t sleep. Our neighbor, Sandy, urged me to try Vick’s salve on the bottoms of my feet. I had heard of this remedy before, but had never tried it. I smeared my feet liberally with the salve, put on a pair of white socks, and went to bed. It worked!
We had used Vick’s salve for the babies, until Old Doc Harper advised me to use camphorated oil instead. (Wonder why we always said Old Doc Smith or Old Doc Goad? I am sure they were not always old!) He said Vick’s salve opened the pores too much; and to cover the chest with a flannel cloth after using the camphorated oil.
These old time remedies were effective. I thought of Della Summer’s recipe for “granny grease” that she used on her children (and adults) for chest congestion. It was composed of lard, (use a right smart of lard, she cautioned) turpentine, lamp oil, and camphor or camphorated oil.
My cousin Katie recommends a mixture of apple cider vinegar and honey (two tablespoons of each) in a glass of water for flu and colds. This is to be sipped slowly throughout the day. Cousin Ray McCune mentions slippery elm bark for a sore throat, and I can testify that this does work. We used it all the time I was growing up.
There is another excellent herb for colds, mouth sores, and sore throats which is goldenseal or yellow root. My sister-in-law Ruth mentioned that was an old standby which is still in use. I like to keep the dried roots on hand, especially during the winter. These old time remedies are tried and true.
The word “snickelfritz” is an actual word. I should have checked with Bertrand Ash, who is the dialect expert. He writes, “Snickelfritz is a new word for me. I found it listed in Wentworth’s dictionary and also on the internet. It is used as an endearing term toward a friend, and also means a kid, or more specifically, a rowdy child.”
Marion Harless of Kerens concurs with this, and my friend Barb in Indiana is familiar with the word. Thanks to all who responded, and to Carlos Cottrell who sent lyrics to a requested song.
We received a wonderful letter from Tommie Roberts of Charleston, who sent the words to the song requested by Mary Bossie. It seems her family (the Ballard’s) still sing the old songs when they get together. She is looking for the lyrics to “It’s a Wonderful Chance for Somebody” and is about the circus coming to town and how two tigers got away. Hope someone has it.
I RUN THE OLD MILL
I run the old mill, over her in Reubenville,
My name’s Josh-u-a Ebenezer Frye.
I know a thing or two, you bet your boots I do!
You can’t fool me, ’cause I’m too durn sly.
Well, I’ll be swanned, I must be gittin’ on,
Git up Napoleon! It looks like rain.
I’ll be switched, the hay ain’t pitched,
Come around and see me when you’re to the farm again.
My son, Josh-u-a, lives in Philadel-phi-a,
He wouldn’t do a day’s work if he could.
Smokes cigarettes like the same city fellers do,
What he’s comin’ to it ain’t a bit of good!
Circus come to our town just the other day,
Pitched up a tent by the old mill dam.
I took Ma along to see the sideshow,
We had a look at the tattooed man.
Up came a crook, he looked straight at my pocketbook,
Said, “Could you give me two tens for a five?”
I said, “You dang fool, I be the Constable,
Now you’re arrested just as sure as you’re alive!”