"TREASURES THAT I HAVE SAVED FOR MY GRANDSON, JOHNNY."
AUTHORED BY MILDRED GARNER RICHBURG
My story would be incomplete without these precious gems that I have treasured all these years.....
When you gave me this book, I asked myself what can I write of my quiet simple life that would interest anyone, but then I thought, anything of the "olden' times" would please Johnny.
I was the third child of seven children. My father, Millard Lee Garner, married my mother, Agnes Virginia Freeman.
He bought a farm joining my grandfather's farm, Columbus W. Garner.
We would walk down a path to grand pappa's house. I remember the apple trees and the little green apples we would sneak and eat and we knew that we were not supposed to do it. We were told that they would make us sick, but being children, we did it anyway.
I remember the wood stove in the kitchen and all the good things my mother cooked on that ole' stove that included homemade biscuits, cornbread, sweet potatoes, collards and turnip with cornmeal dumplings. I remember the lace cornbread cooked on a black iron griddle and it was very thin, crispy and delicious. My baby sister, Frankie, liked to pinch the edges from all around it and eat it.
I would sit in my dad's lap and comb his hair while he was resting on the back porch.
My mother would go out into the yard with an ear of corn and call the chickens and shell the corn for them and would reach down and pick one up and dress it for dinner. Sometimes she would cook dumplings with it or rice. This was called "chicken bog". It was the best in the whole world.
We had cane and took the cane to a sugar cane mill and they made syrup and between meals, we would take a cold biscuit and punch a hole in it and pour it full of syrup for a snack. They were crisp and then and none any better in the whole wide world.
I remember that my mother would bake cookies (the best I ever ate) and put them in a clean flour sack.
I remember the big pans of baked sweet potatoes, with the juice coming out of them.
I would stand by my mother and watch her cook and I picked up cooking ideas from her that has stuck in my mind.
We were carefree and happy. We didn't have much but we made things to play with. We would play all days with mud pies and made houses and things with clay...the days that daddy would be dobbing and filling the cracks between the logs in the barn. During the tobacco season, they would have to sit up at night to keep the furnace filled with wood to cure the tobacco and then get up the next day and work on the farm, after not getting any sleep, except "cat naps". It was hard work in the summer because of curing the tobacco and then the cotton had to be picked in September, and "oh", I hated to pick cotton because my back would get tired and I couldn't stoop long at the time, when I was a child.
We had a garden with all kind of vegetables and they had to be picked and canned in jars for the winter. There were a lot of mouths to feed and my mamma tried to be sure we had canned enough. We had collards and turnips for the winter and sweet potatoes to help out with the food that she had canned.
We canned peaches and apple, our fruit for the winter.
We had a black iron wash pot that we used on "wash day". We had a bench with three tin tubs half full of water. Clothes were washed on a washboard and rinsed them in the other two tubs. They were put in a wash pot to boil first and then rinsed and hung on the clothes line with wooden clothes pins...Then we had a day to iron the clothes. The irons were placed on the fireplace, close to the heat and when they got hot, we wiped them with a clean cloth, in case smoke got on them from the fire. Think about it! We had to cook the starch to starch some of the clothes, like white dress shirts. We ironed most everything, sheets,towels and underwear.
We had a hand pump to fill the tubs.
Then there was "hog-killing" time, when the weather was cold enough to keep the meat. It was salted down and hung in the "smoke house". It was a wonderful smell to wake up in the morning to the smell of country ham frying.
My grandpappa, Wesley Columbus Garner, was called "Lum" Garner. He was a kind, sweet man. He wasn't a big talker, but had words of wisdom. I remember him for his kindness and the sticks of candy that he gave me. After supper, at night, he would get up out of his rocker, by the fireplace, and get a box of peppermint candy sticks and treat us with them.
Then there was Sunday, and "oh boy", we were glad to get to go to church, not so much for the sermon, but to see all of our friends.
On Saturday nights, we would bathe in one of the tin tubs that we washed clothes in. We would put on our "Sunday best" and go to church. Sometimes the preacher and his family would come home with us for dinner. The preacher had about a dozen children. One of them was Doris. She was my best friend. She would do something to get you to laugh and my mother would give us a long hard look. Then we couldn't stop laughing. The preacher's children could seem to get by with more that we could.
We would go swimming in a pond behind the church. We might have gone "skinny-dipping", but I don't remember taking any clothes off. We were not as brave as people are today. We called them the "good ol' days". One day, on the way back from the pond, we saw a cornfield with lots of peas growing and we picked a "mess" of peas. They were the best peas that I ever tasted...
I remember, Johnny, the wild flowers and the butterflys and running through the fields and I was so carefree, not a care in the world.
I remember going fishing with my step-grandmother.