AND THEY CALLED IT INDEPENDENT
submitted by Jean Champion Butterworth
We had Sunday School one Sunday a month in the p.m. and preaching every quarter (3 months apart). My Granddaddy Champion was a religious man (Christian) and he always carried me to every service, foot as he called it. I always loved to hear him talk to God about our needs and to thank him for what he had given us. I didn’t understand it then, but now I do.
We had weekdays and Saturdays to romp
Besides all the hardships of life, we did not know the difference then, so in our then condition as boys, we did enjoy life. We had weekdays and Saturdays to romp. Sunday, we went miles from home through the woods in search for things to eat such as wild grapes, chestnuts and hickory nut, they were plentiful. And I kept a supply at home all the time (in season). My hobbies were hunting and fishing. I didn’t own a gun until I was a teenage boy, but the opossums we caught at night. The most we ever caught on one night hunt was eleven. Another boy borrowed a dog-named Dan from old Uncle Church Kimbrough, an old colored man. Old Dan treed several that we didn’t get. We got home that night around 2 o’clock a.m. cold and wet, but thrilled beyond words.
The big job was skinning them and drying the hide (pelt) to sell. We didn’t have a buyer except a pelter that came through our community about twice a year, but he paid very little for whatever people had to sell.
He did the Veterinarian work
My dad was the neighborhood jack-of-all-trades. He could do most anything that people in the community needed such as sharpen plows, file cross cut saws and axes. He did the Veterinarian work for people who owned bulls and hogs also pulled colt teeth. I never knew him to charge anyone for work that he did except for 14″ to 20″ sweeps he charged 15 cents each. He did most of this around noon after coming out of the field for dinner. One of us boys would have to work the air bellows to make the fire burn to heat the sweeps. We used pine bark for fuel. We didn’t know what coal was. Years later, we would go to the Rail Road track which was near 4 miles from home and pick up coal that had fallen from RR cars that was carrying the coal to Mobile and other small towns along the way.
I lived a life as most any other boy in that day and age. times of gladness and times of sorrow. The social environment in the community was poor. However, we usually had a Bar-B-Q every 4th of July. My dad and uncle would do the roasting as they call it. They usually cooked one goat and 1 sheep and several chickens. It was an ideal spot for such an occasion. The location was a long ridge with deep hollows on each side. With every running spring, cut out of soap stone rock in the head of one hollow cool refreshing water was plentiful. The ridge area had several large beech trees draped with moss hanging down from the limbs. a complete shady place.
Distress in family circle
I remember quite well the sadness and distress of our family circle during the years of 1915 and 1916. A sister Alene was born in January 28th. 1915 and she lived until December 23, 1916. It was the first death that I had ever witnessed. I remember seeing her die lying across Grandma Hare’s lap, also some of the consoling words between Mama and Daddy. These words I remember hearing him say. “Don’t worry now, she has gone to glory”.
During these years many things came about that made our welfare worsen. Most of our corn land was creek bottom patches located on Beaver Creek. All the community men had certain plots they worked on. this particular creek. one day in July 1916, it began to rain and lasted several days causing the creek to flood all the low lands and cover the corn patches, causing the ears to sour. I can see Dad now, as he would wade out shoulder deep and try to pick the corn.
During cotton picking time, drinking creek water and sleeping in a house without screens and being bitten by mosquitoes. It never failed to happen. Some of the family would come down with malaria, chills and fever as we called it. This would last for several days until we could get enough quinine in our system to stop having them. I had them every year until I was grown. Finally, a good old country doctor saw me having them and gave me a 5-gr. capsule of quinine morning and night for 30 days. And I have never had a chill since that day. That was more than 40 years ago. My daddy and uncle carried me to the doctor’s office. I walked most of the way, but went piggy back the rest. Doctors traveled then by horse and buggy and they would always come to see sick people that couldn’t go to the office. However, they didn’t have many kinds of medicine to prescribe except quinine. Calamel tablets and castor oil, sometimes. We got a bottle of Grower’s tasteless chill tonic, which was recommended for chills and fever.
Mama made a salve
However, those home remedies that Mama knew about was a cure-all. We were bad to have boils on our arms, and legs, so Mama made a salve out of pine tar, sweet gum, kerosene and sulfa to draw the boils to a head. She would put this salve on the sore, wrap-a rag around the boil area and let it stay for a day and night before taking it off. If a head or not. Dad would split it open with his knife.
You’ll never make me believe that the Lord didn’t watch over us. I believe in him more and more each day of my life. Only through his loving goodness could we have survived through such ordeals.
Some of the old home remedies were making tea out of green pine straw broad leaf plant called Mullin. This was a spring tonic for pinworms. Also red oak bark boiled in water for sore feet like ground itch, and a cream of sweet milk for poison oak.
Besides the home remedies, we had many weather signs to go by. If you heard owls hollering around noon, you could set the tubs under the drip of the house because it would rain very soon. I remember one night in the early summer. the chickens began to cackle and squeal, so Dad eased out of bed, got the gun, went out on the porch and in the edge of the yard, a big owl had killed a grown hen and was dragging it, trying to air born. The moon was shining bright so Dad ground him for good. with a shotgun blast. Speaking about owls, Mama would tell us kids what they were saying. it went something like this (Owl language) “Rough shorts, shoe boats, chicken soups, Oh, So good. Who cooks for you? I cooks for myself, Who cooks for you? Old Aunt Sally do all” . .