field notes ➤ Stella Roberts, 1982

❝ We were raised south of Mason, my two brothers and I. We never had anything like we do now. Lot of people you hear them say, “the good old days,” well, I don’t believe that, because right now I have everything I need. But then?

What I really can remember is mama planting all the food we ever ate, and we had hogs.

They took us to town, maybe once a year, in a wagon. They used to take us down near the creek to do washing. We’d stay there all day while my mother did the washing, because we had to haul water. We’d stay down there, my brothers and I, and throw the clothes on little trees. When they dried out, she would fold them and put them in a tub and we’d haul them back to the house. And that’s the same waterhole we used to take corn to. We used to take corn down there and boil the corn, and dry it and bring it back to the house and dry it.

Everything my mother raised she dried so it would store better. Pumpkin, for instance, she dried pumpkin. She dried peaches, dried apples, everything was dried. But, I don’t remember anything like cabbage or anything like that, but all the stuff that I remember her drying was corn, pumpkin, and fruit. And they used to wrap pears and apples in paper, put them in boxes, set them in the cellar or under the bed. They really smell good after they were fully ripe and you could smell those fruits all over the house. And meat the same way: she’d cook the meat down. She had cans, five and ten gallon cans, meat fried and pushed in there, and it would keep because it had grease on it. Of course, there’s no such thing as that now, because everything is handy.

My mother, when she shopped in the fall, that was for the winter. Like sugar, salt and stuff, she’d buy enough to last through the winter. . . .

When I tell my boys and girls how we used to live, they say you all sure was poor. I say, we may have been poor but we was lots happier people than you all are today. You all got everything, you all are never satisfied, but we never heard so much griping until we got older. Now you hear all kinds of griping. ❞

The World and Way of the Creek People
edited by David Michael Lambeth
(privately published, 1982)

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