Friday, March 30, 2012

Those Were the Days!  
by Dr. Rhodes B. Holliman, Dublin, Virginia

Dr. Rhodes Holliman, a descendant of pioneer families in Fayette County, Alabama, concludes his reflections on visiting his aunts and uncles in Newtonville, Alabama in the 1930s, a time gone by. - GNH

"These wonderful kinfolks never owned a gas or electric stove, a refrigerator or even an ice box; there was no washing machine or dryer and electric lights. No running water, tub or shower.  No indoor plumbing whatsoever.  If you wanted water there was a hand-dug well in the back yard."

Below is a Fayette County example of a 'dog trot' home prevalent in the 19th Century.  While not his Uncle Eura's home, this rustic building has a middle hall way with an enclosed room on each side.  Usually one built first one cabin and then as one prospered added a second side.  Often one side was a kitchen. The wood stove made it extremely hot in Alabama summers, so the family lived in the opposite room.  Photo courtesy of Dr. Rhodes Holliman and his niece, Glenda Norris

"Needed to wash clothes?  There was a big, cast iron, 3 legged pot in the back yard, in which you put water and under which you built a fire. When the water was hot, you would put the dirty clothes in the pot with some homemade lye soap. You would pull out the wet garments and scrub them over a wash board and then rinse with cold water.

Needed a cook stove?  There was a chop block near the well where you would split stove wood. Needed a bath?  There was a 16 gallon washtub in front of the hearth or wood stove. Needed lights?  Kerosene lamps did the trick.  Needed to store cooked food? There was the pie safe. Needed heat in the winter?  Back to the chop block or cross cut saw.  Needed air conditioning?  Get out your cardboard church fan.

Needed to go somewhere? There was a buggy and a horse or mule in the barn. A few wealthy folk had a Model T or A Ford. Needed groceries?  Go to the storm cellar and pick up home canned vegetables and/or take a sack of corn or grain to the local grist mill and come back with meal or flour.  Needed meat?  Go out to the smokehouse and cut down a ham, bacon or sow belly." 
Above, approximately 1905, James Monroe Holliman, Cecil Rhodes Holliman and Elizabeth Baker Holliman at their turn of the 20th Century home in Newtonville, Alabama.  James Monroe Holliman, the writer's grandfather, would become a lawyer, and as many during World War I, he took his family to an urban area, in this case Birmingham, Alabama and became a successful attorney.  Many of  his grandchildren and great grandchildren follow the same profession today in Birmingham.

"Needed a doctor?  Dr. Blakeney could be reached on your crank phone and he would come to your house in his antique car or on horseback.  Need to satisfy a sense of visceral urgency?  There was a path to the outhouse.  It could be a one holer or a two holer. Worried about cholesterol?  What was cholesterol?

In my boyhood mind, everyone was happy and did not seem to miss anything in life and always looked forward to family visiting, family reunions, church homecomings and revivals and all day singing and ‘eating on the grounds’.  It was in this wonderful world of simplicity that I grew to manhood never feeling that I missed anything."

Next posting, a return to our English roots....

No comments:

Post a Comment