I have discovered a new blog to follow! Earl B. Russell writes about growing up poor on a Tennessee farm. He’s posted on such memories as his mother doing laundry with a washboard, smoking fresh sausages and salting hams after the hog-killing, living without electricity, and racing around with the boys in a ’59 Dodge Pickup. Among other stories of his life. One of his links led to the RootsWeb.com page (part of Ancestry.com) for Mary Carol’s Weakley County Tennessee Genealogy and History site where I found fabulous stories of life in days gone by. Mary Carol’s site and some of Earl’s posts are all about my husband’s side of the family, all from the East Tennessee countryside. I’m thinking about how I need to write down all those stories, and soon.
Farm life is just not the same anymore. Small family farms are disappearing fast, replaced by big factory farms, so if you’re from a farm family you’ve definitely got history worth writing. My husband remembers pulling eggs from under crabby setting hens lined up on shelves of hay in a long chicken shed. His mother and her siblings picked cotton by hand, hoed out weeds, and shelled peas when they were yet little kids. Actually she still shells peas (beans). I remember eating Granny’s supper of backbone and beans – and liking it – when I first joined the family. And then there’s the big breakfasts of fried tenderloin, milk gravy and the red-eye gravy made with fat and coffee, homemade biscuits, and scrambled eggs. Oh, heaven.
I do have a videotape of Granny and her daughter (my mother-in-law) sitting at an old wood table, reminiscing. During our Christmas visit to Tennessee I wrote down some of my mother-in-law’s famous recipes and her comments about them. I’m supposed to be reflecting on how to write her stories of early life in the Tennessee countryside mixed with her classic Southern recipes. Thank, you Earl, for setting some kindling under me.