Those Were the Days, My Friend…

Published May 2, 2021 by Nan Mykel

Source: The X Family in X County, Virginia, with stories, mainly of the W B Branch compiled by X in 1976.  (Sorry, I don’t know how to protect privacy and credit at the same time).

                                           DAILY CHORES  

   Papa was always an early riser. Winter and summer he got up at 5 o’clock. Long before light we would hear him shaving off a few splinters of lightwood to kindle a fire in our bedroom heater.  From there he went to grandpa’s room, made a fire in the fireplace, then carried a shovel of coals to the old kitchen in the yard.  He brought two buckets of water from the spring, whistling as he went.  This was only the beginning of Papa’s morning chores.  He fed the horses and hogs and milked and fed the cows before returning to the house for breakfast.

     In the meantime, the women had their chores. Aunt Mattie cooked breakfast.  There were hot biscuits with bacon, sausage or other meat or eggs, fried apples, coffee and milk, the last brought to the dining room table in china pitchers, one for buttermilk and one for sweet milk.  In our childhood the coffee was roasted in our oven and ground fresh for each meal.

   Mothet made a fire in the dining room stove and set the table for breakfast, making sure that there was plenty of butter, honey, preserves and sorghum molasses in the center of the table. She also made the beds and helped us children get ready for school. Alice’s hair was sometimes short and had a little curl, but mine was very long and straight and had to be combed and braided by Mother.

   Aunt Manie helped prepare Grandma and Grandpa for breakfast. Grandma was an invalid and was served her meals in her room from the time she broke her hip when I was seven years old. Grandpa was very deaf, but usually had good health until the last year or two of his life.

   After breakfast everybody had other duties. Papa began whatever farm work was in season, overseeing hired help, caring for farm animals, tools, machinery, harness, etc. Mother raised chickens, cared for the milk and butter with help from Aunt Mattie, Alice and me, helped with the house work and with caring for Grandma and Grandpa, supervised the garden and did much of the tending and gathering of vegetables.  She sold surplus chickens, eggs, butter and milk and, occasionally vegetables to help with family expense and to put away savings to send her children to high school and college.

Aunt Manie took the responsibility of caring for Grandma and Grandpa, but was helped by Mother and other members of the family as needed. She also supervised the house-cleaning downstairs and raised beautiful flowers. I remember, especially, her violets, roses, August lilies and chrysanthemums.  Aunt Mattie did most of the cooking. This was done in the old kitchen in the back yard until 1918. Food was brought hot to the table for breakfast and dinner….Too dry cake was served with a sauce.  Many ways were found to use left-overs…..

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