Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Memories of Mary Pack

The following is written by Jennifer Killby, a granddaughter of Cleopatra Harvey.  The story is about visits with her Aunt Mary:

 Aunt Mary was married to my Uncle Bum (I can't remember his full name). I believe she was 13 when they married. My aunt stated that she remembers Cecil Pack (our grandmother) saying she was angry at Uncle Bum for wanting to marry her at a young age. Aunt Mary spent lots of time at Cecil's home prior to their marriage and I believe that's how he met her. Cecil told him to let her grow up to be a woman, but he didn't and they married. My aunt stated all of Aunt Mary's daughters were post masters also until they retired.

I remember being really afraid of going to Aunt Mary's because my grandfather scared my sister and I to death about copperheads and rattlesnakes and we had to use the outhouse to go to the bathroom at her house. Of course, being the jokester my grandfather always was, he made sure we were good and scared when we had to use the facilities. I also remember the dog she had that would always be under the porch when we arrived. For the life of me, I can't remember its name. Aunt Mary always kept a picture of my grandmother's first marriage sitting out. And it wasn't til years later that we found out who the man was. I know he only lived a week after my grandmother had married him. She always had something cooked, but I remember the pies. She always seemed to have pies. She made my grandfather mince meat, my grandmother and sister a cream pie - usually banana or chocolate. And for some reason she always made me applesauce pie. I didn't like applesauce pie and always complained to my grandmother who made me eat the applesauce pie so not to hurt Aunt Mary's feelings. I forced it down, dreading every bite of it. Now, I miss those pies and have made applesauce pies to remember those days. No one seems to know what I'm talking about when I ask them about an applesauce pie or say they never heard of such a thing. When my grandmother sat and talked with Aunt Mary, my grandfather would walk us down to her friend (or relative - I can't remember) who lived in a one room house just a little bit down the road and we would visit her for a while. She was such a sweet lady. I liked visiting her. Every generation  have had their pictures taken in front of the the postal house she has in the front yard. I didn't get to see Aunt Mary in the 90's. I last saw her in the 80's.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Notes from Holiday Conversation

This is an extension of my conversation with Vernon about the Holidays (*see the previous post for stories about Christmas time in Streeter!)   These topics are not related to Christmas, so I broke them off into a separate post.

Vernon:  ...I'd use a ball for playing jacks.  That was a game I played a lot and hop scotch at school.  Rarely did we play ball at school.  Only one teacher let us play softball and that was Audrey Lilly.  He bought the bat and ball.  He wanted a different kind of atmosphere  at school.

           We had field day at the end of school.  We were to practice for sack races, overhead relays (like volleyball), stick relays.... We won every game at Jumping Branch (where all the schools met for field day).    We took home about every 1st Place prize.  Audrey Lilly knew all the techniques necessary for us to win.
        A little later we talked about the structure of a school house...

          They had a recitation bench - the teacher would call forward each grade, "2nd grade for math", etc.  To the recitation bench.  We had debates.  Bum Pack (one of their teachers) loved debating - he also liked spelling bee's.  He would often say, "learn your lesson well, before you have to spell."

         One time I was asked to spell picnic, but I spelled it "p-i-c-k-n-i-c-k".  I was upset that I had misspelled it ... made fun of me and would ask, "are you going on a p-i-c-k-n-i-c-k today?"  

        ...I'm a good speller to this day.

Christmas in Streeter

    Here are some Christmas tales via Vernon.

Me:  What was Christmas like?  What presents did you receive?

Vernon:  80% of the kids were lucky to have bare, meager things.  Sometimes I would receive an apple or an orange, or maybe a little dab of candy, English walnuts, maybe a ball.

              In 1938 I received a sled with an iron runner.  If I got a pair of boots in the winter I could go out in the snow. I would also get a pair of woolen socks with a red stripe at the top.  I had cousins that put hog nails in their boots to keep from slipping - they projected from the bottom - the similitude of cleats put in by cobblers.  

          My memories are beautiful.  I didn't care if I got anything at all.  A sponge rubber ball would be nice.

Me:  What about decorations?  A tree?

Vernon:  The decorations were mostly handmade - a handmade chain of different colored paper and we would drape that around the tree.  We also popped popcorn and strung it on the tree. We cut our own tree.  People kept an eye on a tree they wanted and they would cut it down (unless someone else had an eye on it too).  We didn't have electricity-

Me:  -Did you use candles on the tree?

Vernon:  A tree could become dry.  That would be dangerous.  We often didn't use candles (on the tree).  

            We would take a pan - like a bread pan - and put wax in the bottom then place 7-8 candles in, and place on a dresser top.  

Me:  What about outside decorations?

Vernon:  Rarely.  Sometimes 2 or 3 trees were cut and put on the porch as decoration.  I did see that.  Interior decorations on the wall sometimes.  If they had enough money they could get decorations from Murphy's.

Me:  What about on Christmas day, did people go to church?  What activities?

Vernon:  The place to go was the Streeter Schoolhouse for a large congregation.  It was full of people.  It was a special time of year (like Easter) when people could visit.

  On Christmas day my dad would set up shooting matches and there were presents for the winner (there was moonshine too).

  The shooting day was a tradition for him (shotgun not rifle shooting).  They would have a splatter match.  A card is passed around and each would circle his name on the target along with everyone else.  You tried to hit your name on the card.  There was also an individual card for the individual match and you would do the shooting at your own card.  There were prizes for the group and individual shooting matches.  One large prize: like a ham, or a knife...something of considerable value.

Me:  Did anyone have a sled or horse and sleigh?

Vernon:  A guy who lived up the creek did - he put paper around the horse's harness - an ornament on the hames - and sometimes sleigh bells.  This might have been one of the Adkins, but I was 6 years old...

Me:  How did the generation before you celebrate?

Vernon:  Mother spoke of Christmas past - almost the same as how we celebrated Christmas - most of it was handmade.  Mother made dolls out of socks - probably a tradition from her day.  They had trees- decorations.