The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
One day back in about 1934, Ouida Seal was going up to spend the day with Nellie [Ballard] Chisum and she wanted me to go along with her. “Miss Nellie” was married to Big Walling Chisum.
|Ouida Seal Bourke|
Photograph by granddaughter, Amber Bourke Martin
She was Ouida’s great aunt through her mother, Olga Knight Seal. Big Walling and Miss Nellie lived a couple of miles up the road towards Wisner on what we called the Green Place.
I don’t remember how we got up there but somebody took us.
“Miss Nellie” had a hammock in her yard. One end was tied to a tree and the other end was tied to a post. There was a long rope tied on another tree off in the distance from the hammock. The other end of the long rope laid across the hammock. When you got ready to swing, you would just pull on the rope.
That was the first hammock I had seen rigged up that way and to tell the truth, I don’t think I have seen one like that since then.
Miss Nellie was about fifty-five years old when Ouida and I visited her and saw that hammock. At the time, we considered that as old. It doesn’t seem that old to me now being as I’m looking at sixty-five next June.
In 1934 my mother would have been thirty-four years old. I’m sitting here now thirty years older than my mother was at that particular time.
It’s funny how the older you get your definition of "old" changes. I think of so many people who I looked upon as old people.
Uncle Wes Ogden, who was married to my Aunt Dick [Lucille Steele Ogden], died when he was about fifty-seven years old. I remember him as an old man.
Grandpa Steele died at sixty-four and I thought he was old, old.
I remember as children a bunch of us boys and girls were up at Rufus Knight’s filling station back in about 1935. It had to have been in the wintertime because we were closed up inside the station. We were all talking and some girl told us she was nine years old. Somebody else was eleven. Seems like I was about eight years old at the time.
One of the little girls asked Mr. Rufus how old he was. He said, “Twenty-nine.” I remember I just couldn’t believe anybody was twenty-nine years old. Twenty-nine years old! I remember thinking how long it would be before I was that old. Heck, I’m a good bit more than twice that old now.
Milk Cows and Bitter Weed…
In the late Spring or early Summer, the cows would get in bitter weed as they were grazing. The bitter weed would just ruin the milk. One of the most disappointing things was taking a big swig from a glass of milk only to discover the milk cow had been grazing in bitter weed.
|Courtesy of Bayou Momma Photography|
As a young boy, I drank milk like most people drank water. Nothing was better than a cold glass of milk. I’d come inside hungry and thirsty from playing and make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I would reach into the icebox and grab the cold milk and pour me a big glass of it. After taking a bite of my sandwich I would take a big swig of cold milk.
When the milk turned out to be bitter I would just be furious. I’d even blame the ole milk cows! My mother always laughed at me when I got mad at the milk cows.
Worse than that? I remember the time we made some homemade ice cream. No one realized the milk was bitter. That was the most awful tasting ice cream I had ever eaten!
Julia Rogers worked for my mother for years. Every morning at about 9:30 or 10:00, Julia would make a hoe cake. Anybody around who knew Julia was making hoe cakes would happen to stop by about that time.
Hoe cakes were made by mixing a cup of plain flour, a teaspoon of baking powder, and a half a teaspoon of salt together. A heaping tablespoon of lard was cut into the flour mixture before adding milk or butter milk. You would add the milk slowly until the mixture could be made into a ball of dough.
After rolling out the dough to the size of hoe cake you wanted, you would place it in a big cast iron skillet that had been coated with a little bacon grease.
My wife, Mildred, still makes hoe cakes and I love them!
Note: Parts 1-65 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.