Sunday, November 24, 2013

Streeter during Thanksgiving

The following taken from an interview of Vernon Pack, 11/24/13:

Me:  What was Thanksgiving like in Streeter?

Vernon:  I didn't recall having a turkey, but we would have meat of some kind.  Dad would kill a rabbit or we would have pork.  Turkey was rarely seen.

Me: Wild turkey were rare?

Vernon:  Yes.  I read somewhere that it was common to have 3 deer a day - in the 1800s and back.  But, you never saw a bear in the woods, rarely a deer or turkey-

Me: This is in the 1940s, right?

Vernon: Yes.  The hunters had just about eliminated all the big game around the Streeter area.  A friend recalled the only time he saw a deer it was dead on someone's fender - killed by a hunter and put on the fender of the automobile.

      [Thanksgiving] we maybe had a rabbit or some pork, sweet potatoes were of course plentiful, regular potatoes, brown beans (dad loved them), and cornbread.

     We would have a pig or hog butchered on that day and the ladies and their husbands would come and some members of the neighborhood would come and help butcher - it was an all day and sometimes all night affair.  Butchering day was Thanksgiving Day.  Salt was rubbed in the meat to help preserve it - we didn't have electricity.  Usually the hogs were 300 to 400 lbs, so it was a chore to get them prepared.  The people who helped were given some of the pork for the benefit of helping.  Not everyone had pigs, but dad often did.

    Thanksgiving wasn't a day of leisure; it was a day of work.  You had a heated water barrel - boiling and hot - you stuck the hog down inside the barrel a number of times to get the hair softened to scrap off.

Me:  What about pies, desserts?

Vernon:  Chocolate pies, apple pies, pumpkin pies and cobblers -

Me: Did your mom make the pumpkin from can?

Vernon: she grew her own pumpkins and selected the best from the field.  She would then cook it down.  I didn't like pumpkin pie because I had to smell it being prepared.  I liked the cherry, huckleberry, and blackberry cobblers.

  [On activities]:  My uncle Alex Pack [William Alexander Pack] was invited.  He would stick the knife in at an angle [when slaughtering the pig].  The men would bet he would punch the heart - normally he would puncture the heart.  He knew what he was doing.

  They [the men] would chew tobacco and have spitting contests.  They also played Mumble (or Mumbley) Peg.  You open a knife partially, place a piece of wood on the floor, and cover your sight of it with one hand and see if you could stick the wood with the knife tip.  It would stick if you knew what you were doing.  The men bet 5 to 20 cents.