Back in the mid 30s or early 40s, there was a joint effort to bale hay or thrash wheat at my mother’s farm. My mother’s job was to feed all the workers. There was just as much effort in the kitchen as in the field. There would be many women coordinating a meal in a very small kitchen and dining room. There would be more than one table of men and sometimes the men would come out of the field to dinner in shifts so as not to waste so much time at the table. Sometimes they all came in at the same time and use the waiting time to socialize.
The menu could be anything that was produced on the farms in the area. The women would bring something from their home and the lady from the house where the meal was being served coordinated this effort.
One day at my mother’s kitchen the work was hectic, and our small house was very crowded. It was getting close to time for the men to come in from the field. Mother reached into the cabinet for an empty plate. She promptly put the plate on the table. Someone in the dining area thought it was inappropriate for an empty plate to be on the table and asked, “Mary why are you putting an empty plate on the table”? Mother replied, “That is for Sadie’s chicken.” Sadie who had been comfortably out of the way spoke up, “Well if y’all want the chicken, it is down in the chicken pen. Y’all can go down and get it if you want it.”
I stayed with my sister, Nellie, and her family many times during my last childhood year and early teens years. Her children, my nephews, were my favorites playmates. I stayed overnight many times. One overnight stay I remember Nellie had picked up one dozen salted fish at Bailey Chelf’s store in Jonesville. She and Ralph were living in the Sand Hollow house at that time.
I guess the secret to preparing fish in brine is to take out the proper amount of the salt. I got up one Sunday morning with Phil and Larry and we go down to breakfast. Nellie was at the stove cooking the fish. Shortly after we arrive we sat at the table to eat the salted fish. We all must have been very hungry. Ralph ate four, I ate three, Phil ate two and Larry and Nellie ate one each. One was left for the hounds. I never could cook salted fish like that. I never tried to hard either.
Breakfast at Uncle Arthur’s is so interesting it should be reproduced. The food is secondary to the acts of all the parties. I cannot remember being there before Ruth was married and left home. I would be sleeping with Tommy and I would arise with him. We would head downstairs, the first to see would be Aunt Ethel at stove ready to take orders for breakfast. Gordon would be seaed at the south end of the table stirring his coffee. Coman would have finished eating and sitting at the table looking as if he were chilly. Uncle Arthur, most likely would have already left the house to take care of the livestock. Tommy and I would be seated and give our request for breakfast. Bacon, eggs, gravy and biscuits were my favorites and I as remember they were always available. Allen would arrive at the table next shortly followed by James. Each would give their breakfast order to Aunt Ethel.
It is mid-spring 1949, in Hammondville, Kentucky. The odor of spring in Kentucky filled the air. I am sitting at the kitchen table eating dinner (lunch main meal of the day). Those with me are my mother, father, two older sisters and my Grandfather’s brother who was epileptic. The meal was, from the beginning, interrupted by my puppy/dog, about nine months old, yelping and barking chasing chickens, pigs, cattle, mules or anything this rabid dog could do to relieve her pain.
I remember that part of the menu was fried chicken. Sometime after the meal began my father said he had had enough, he was taking the dog down to the stripping room, hold her there and see how her condition played out. He came back to the house later and that is all that I remember.
All stories are true as best I can remember or as I was told. One name is fictional