ALYCE FAYE BRAGGIt seemed that the daisies always started to bloom as the school term ended. They lined the path down the hill from the schoolhouse, their yellow centers gleaming like sunshine. We ran down the hill with our load of books, ecstatic in our “freedom of school let out.” Was there ever such a feeling of liberation in shedding the shackles of schooling as that was?

We looked forward to a summer of pleasure. There was no thought of summer’s chores; hoeing corn in the hot sun while fighting sweat bees, picking berries while fighting more sweat bees, girls doing housework and helping with the canning, and boys cutting sprouts and clearing brush.

No, these things never entered our minds. We had lovely daydreams of sleeping late, jumping in the swimming hole, playing in the woods and riding our bicycles. (We did manage to combine these things with our farm chores, so it was not all work.)

Work on the farm starts early in the morning. I remember Daddy coming in the bedroom and saying, “Get up—the old cow ate up the grindstone!” (How many years has it been since I’ve heard anyone say that?) Mom would have breakfast ready and we hopped up, washed our faces in the wash pan, and gathered around the table.

There’s nothing like a farm breakfast. We had hot biscuits every morning (Mom had a bread pan that would barely fit in the oven) and we always had our own fresh eggs, home cured bacon or sausage and plenty of fresh cow butter. She would fix creamed tomatoes (tomato gravy to some) or thickened blackberries—Daddy called it “flummery.”

We ate hearty and had no weight problem—we worked and played hard. Some of the chores I really liked. Sometimes in the summer evenings, the milk cows were reluctant to leave their picking and failed to come to the gap to be milked. I loved going after the cows. They were usually high up in the meadow, and sometimes it took a little prompting to get them started down the hill.

They would mosey along, stopping frequently to crop some succulent grass, and that gave us time to loiter along and examine the flowers and animal life. There was a pink flower that grew in the upper pasture field that we called “St. Anthony’s Cross” but actually is a “pink” or dianthus. To me, it smells like nutmeg, and a bouquet will scent the whole house.

Farm life really wasn’t dull. We received a note from Roberta Hart Woods of Summersville, recalling an incident that happened when she was young. Her little brother taught a calf to butt. He would put a bucket over his head and go at the calf. This went on until one day the calf butted too hard and little brother ended up with a bucket over his head that he couldn’t remove. That scared all of them—except her Mom and Dad.

Andy’s little bottle-fed calf Carl is getting bigger. He still demands his bottle, and can suck it dry in a few seconds and wants more. Patty was feeding him the other day and after he finished the bottle, he still wasn’t satisfied. He sucked her fingers, her elbow, and finally butted her on her hip. I saw him follow Jennifer up the path yesterday and butted her on the rump all the way to the house. I figure she made him another bottle.

Spring house cleaning is still going on in some homes, as the weather has been so rainy that it’s hard to get anything done. I found a letter that my good friend Faye Fleet of St. Albans sent some time ago. She wrote it when they moved from Lewis Street and had to discard a lot of things– it echoes my sentiments exactly.

I toss away the lace-trimmed, heart-shaped box of pink that was my Valentine—
How long ago?
I take it back again.
I can’t give up the satin ribbon, the plastic rose,
That youthful hands caressed in pride of giving—
So long ago.

They say I cannot keep forever these cherished tokens,
Now all packed away;
And so I give them up, a few at a time—
But in the spaceless reaches of my heart and mind
Are all the roses and violets on cards that say,
“I love you, Mom. You are the best mother in the world.”

Crooked trees and lopsided suns adorn works of art for me,
Fishes wearing glasses and three-legged horses are all splendid to me.
Velvet lined boxes and love notes on paper napkins
Fill too many boxes you see—
And so I fill the store room of my heart with these treasures dear—
Three times now I toss away the pink heart,
Trimmed with white lace,
And brush away the tear that glistens on the plastic rose.

I am thankful for memories that warm the heart and bring back loved ones of the past. It is wonderful how our Heavenly Father dims the hurtful memories, but lets the precious ones burn even brighter.
MEMORIES By Addie Samples Dawson
Sometimes in the lonely hours,
My mind, it takes a stroll,
Down through the lane of memory,
Back to the good old days of childhood,
To the good old days of old.
The songs my Father sang,
His voice so loud and clear,
And the old time hymns my Mother sang,
I fancy I can hear.

Jesus, lover of my soul, Rock of Ages cleft for me,
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
Nearer my God to Thee.
Shall we meet beyond the river?
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
What a friend we have in Jesus,
And the song, He set me free.

In a little one-room schoolhouse,
Oh! So many years ago,
There we little ones would gather,
Through the sunshine or the snow.
Those are days of pleasant memories,
We had no worries on our mind.
All we have now are fond, sweet memories,
Of sweet days that’s far behind.

Phyllis Carroll of Gassaway sends a request for a recipe for potato salad that is made without salad dressing or mayonnaise. Mom used to make a cooked dressing using eggs, milk and vinegar—wonder if that is what she is looking for. Also, she is searching for a recipe for Ellen’s Nut Cake that doesn’t use nuts—that puzzles me.

We had a request from Phyllis Carroll of Gassaway a couple of weeks ago for a recipe for potato salad made without mayonnaise. The first response came from Ilene Houchin of Summersville. She says that she used to make a homemade dressing with eggs, milk, vinegar and celery seed, but she discovered that Marzetti’s slaw dressing tasted the same. She uses it on potato salad, macaroni salad, slaw, chicken salad or on any salad.

The second response came from Jean Morgan of Teays Valley, and she credits Momma Jarroll of the Country Road Inn for the recipe.

Six potatoes, unpeeled
¼ cup celery, chopped
2 tablespoons green onions, chopped
¼ cup black olives, sliced
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup wine vinegar

Boil the unpeeled potatoes in salted water until they are just tender (Do not overcook.)

Peel the potatoes immediately without cooling and dice them into 1″ cubes. Coat the potatoes with the oil and allow them to cool. Toss the cooled potatoes with the remaining ingredients and adjust salt to taste. Serve cold.

I’ve been thinking about some of our colloquial sayings, and the difference in our expressions that vary from family to family. We always called tomatoes thickened with flour or cornstarch, added milk and butter “creamed tomatoes.” Others called it “tomato gravy,” and Kathleen Slaughter of Winfield says their family called it “tomato dip.” Don Norman of Elyria said that he didn’t know the cow ate up the grindstone, but he had heard the cat ate the mattock!

From Bea McElhinny come these old time expressions: “So tight that she would skin a louse for its hide and tallow.” “Useless as a whistle on a kraut cutter.” Gene Bowles of Point Pleasant sends a collection of old country sayings including, “He’s as crooked as a barrel of fish hooks!” “Pretty as a speckled pup.” (That reminds me of how Daddy described Mom when he first met her, “She was as pretty as a speckled steamboat on a striped river!”)

Tom Miller sends this parting thought, “Judge not! Remember—just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.” I’ve always heard, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to the chicken house makes you a chicken.”

My great-granddaughter Lainee hopped up on the bar stool and asked, “Mommaw, can I have a cookie?” “Sure,” I answered and gave her a bought cookie. She looked at the cookie, and then at me and said reproachfully, “Where’s the Gwammaw cookies?” (Yes, I baked some!)

Alyce Faye Bragg

She writes the "News From the Hills" column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published.

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Alyce Faye Bragg

She writes the "News From the Hills" column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer