Days Gone By - stories from the past

Nature was the only kind of refrigeration or curing device we had – Wilcox County, Alabama

AND THEY CALLED IT INDEPENDENT

PART IV

By

Marvin Malley Champion

submitted by Jean Champion Butterworth

This community had an open range. Everybody turning their cows mules and hogs out of the pastures. and pens to make their own living through the winter months. However. we would always have to round-up the milk cow in case she didn’t come home. Most of the time she did by keeping the calf penned up and a few loud calls. We named all of our cows and most of the time. they would respond to name calling. Some of the best were Silky. Nettie. Dolly and Catherine.pigs pasture


A man named Mr. T. A. Steed operated a milking barn. He owned lots of jersey cows. But lost lots of them in the winter. especially calves. He used the milk can method; by that I mean he would ship his milk by train every day to Mobile or Selma.  I have  seen lots of his yearling dead and dying from starvation. He gave me a Jersey Belle one time that was down not very far from home. I managed to pull him through the winter by feeding corn shucks and corn a little at a time. I named him poor boy. In the early spring when weeds and grass began to come up. we had a pretty big frost one night. so I let him out as usual to graze so the next morning we had to drag him off. It was a long time before I ever owned another calf. I guess the frostbitten grass fermented in his stomach; anyway. it’s like I heard. an old negro man say that let his old horse starve to death…dem’s got gotta Lo~er.

Collard Kraut

The winter months were always the worst time of the year for us. Really not enough of anything to make life comfortable. I remember one thing along the food line that we did was making collard kraut. All the neighborhood families had their garden patch wired in and they would set up kraut making in the middle of the patch.

Mama owned a wooden barrel that would hold about 20 gallons. so they would chop the collards into this barrel. adding salt packing as the process went until it. Was full. then placing a weight on top to hold them down in the barrel. Somehow this briny water would preserve them after sitting several days. They would tie a cloth over the top and weight down a piece of tin to keep out the rain and insects.

Banking potatoes

We also used the garden patch to bank sweet potatoes. Actually. the fence around the garden was not wire as I mentioned before. but it was made from rough boards or slats about 6′ long and about 4″ wide. The reason for the fence. we had what we called free range; everybody turned the cattle and hogs out of the pens and pasture after gathering time. We piled the potatoes up in a cone fashion shape. covered them with pine straw. first and then dirt. Then we would dig a hole into the bank of potatoes on the south side of the bank so some air could penetrate. This was done to try to keep them from rotting.Sweet potato transplants.JPG

Preserving food

Nature was the only kind of refrigeration or curing device we had. So we used methods  to try and preserve food. Many things  were prepared on a day to day basis. During summertime, food left over would sour.

Previous to this statement. we attended school in a church building with a cemetery located nearby. I don’t know how long this custom has been in effect, but to my first remembrance, they were having what is called Decoration Day. On every 2nd Sunday in May. people from all the area and some that bad moved away returned to this place on every date, bringing baskets of food and spending the day in fellowship and worship service.

Before lunch, flowers were placed on every grave in the cemetery. Children enjoyed the day more than adults because of playing together and probably learning new games to play. Some of the game! were hopscotch and jumping spots.

This community~Independent. was located in the South eastern part of Wilcox county, about 8 miles from the Alabama River and about 3 miles from the Southern Railroad. This was a dense wooded area. However, there were many areas of opened land of which the community) farmed. Most of the time referred to as, “the hills” by the neighbors.

Chinaberries and Other Memories of Alabama by Jean Butterworth

 

 Alabama history and genealogy books

 

Chinaberries and Other Memories of Alabama


Do you remember 4-H clubs? Eight-party lines? Fashion in the 1950s? Going to school during World War II?
In this collection of Alabama memories, Jean Butterworth takes readers on a nostalgic journey through growing up in Alabama during the Great Depression, World War II, and beyond. She pays homage to a time before the Internet, cell phones, and all of the distractions of modern life.
Readers of all ages will enjoy taking a step back in time and preserving these memories, which, like Chinaberry trees, may soon be hard to come by.
List Price: Price Not Listed
Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

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About Jean Butterworth

Jean Champion Butterworth is originally from Tuscaloosa County, graduating from Tuscaloosa County High School, Druid City Hospital School of Nursing and The University of Alabama. She is a retired nurse. Working 27 years at The Children’s Hospital as Department Director, Specialty Clinics. She has traveled extensively in Europe, Africa, The Middle East, and Eastern Europe. You can contact Jean at [email protected]
See additional stories by Jean Butterworth on www.daysgoneby.me

She also now has a Kindle Ebook Chinaberries and Other Memories of Alabama

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4 comments

  1. Don’t forget the old smokehouses. I remember grandaddy having smoked meat hanging in the smokehouse where it was dried with hickory smoke. What a taste and flavor. Granddaddy also had an overflowing well and the water was cold. You could put milk in Mason jars and let them sit in the cold water along with other things to keep cool to drink later. Nothing like cold fresh spring water to drink.

    1. Overflowing well is an artesian well possibly?

  2. Vicky Hudson

    Wilcox county an champions a combo i know a lot about lol

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