Shopping with the Grandmothers

Every Tuesday, my mom would take Mawdie to Paducah so she could get groceries for the week. Sometimes, Grandma Thomasson would go too. Grandma was a pretty serious person; but when she went to town with Mom and Mawdie, they usually made her laugh.  I know that one time when she went with them, Mawdie told Mom to be sure and stop at the liquor store on the way home just to see how Grandma would react. They got the reaction they were expecting; Grandma got pretty irate over it. After she figured out they were messing with her, she started suggesting they stop at the liquor store.

In the summer, when we were out of school, my little sister and I went with them.  It was a fun day because we got to eat lunch somewhere other than home and that was a real treat. We usually ate at Kreske’s Dime Store and Mawdie and I always got a grilled cheese sandwich with potato chips and pickles.  Kreske’s was pretty much a general store; it had everything like household goods, clothes, jewelry and cosmetics.

Cheryl and I were each given 25 cents to spend while we were in there and let me tell you a lot of stuff could be bought for a quarter back then.  But, my purchase was usually the same:  false fingernails (because I kept mine bit off in the quick).  Now, the fingernails back then were not the nice fitted ones like we have today.  And the most sticky, messy glue was included to use to put these puppies on your fingers.  They didn’t stick well because you could just bump one of your fingers and the nail would go flying off into next year.  I never learned my lesson though because each week I would get a new set.  I don’t remember what Cheryl got with her quarter, probably a ball or some other kind of toy (she was a lot smarter than I was).  Sometimes, Greg (our cousin) would go and he also got a quarter to spend.

Anyway, after lunch we would do a little shopping in Kreske’s and then go to John Green’s so Grandma Thomasson could pick up thread or material.  As I’ve told you before, she was a wonderful seamstress.  Sometimes we would go to Thom McCan Shoe Store or J.C. Penneys.  I need to add here that there were parking meters downtown so sometimes Mom would circle the block two or three times before she found the exact spot she wanted.  Of course, we had to make sure we kept the meter fed so we wouldn’t get a parking ticket.

Once we got all of that shopping done, we would head to the A & P Grocery.  Uncle Cliff was the butcher there so we got good cuts of meat and also visited with him.  It would take forever for all three of them to get groceries; but when Grandma went, she would buy a one-pound bag of cashew nuts; then she and I would eat them on the way home. There have been many a day that by the time I got home, I was deathly ill from eating too many cashews.  But, I didn’t learn my lesson on that either because every time Grandma went with us, she would buy the cashews and I would make myself sick eating them.

You know, I really miss those good ole times and sometimes wish I could go back for just one day and go grocery shopping with my mom and my grandmothers.

See ya next Wednesday.

The Garden Wedding

In one of my December posts, I announced that my son Joel and his lovely fiance Amanda had gotten married in a civil ceremony at the courthouse in uptown Charlotte. Well, this past Sunday, May 20, 2012, they renewed their vows in a garden wedding at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont, North Carolina.

The botanical garden is a beautiful place and has flowers of every kind blooming and there are several water features.  It was a quaint little wedding ceremony with relatives and close friends attending.  Amanda made an absolutely beautiful bride and Joel was most handsome, but then I’m a little prejudice about him.  Sherri, Amanda’s mom, made the bridal bouquet, the matron of honor’s bouquet, and all the boutonnières for the guys.  They were all so gorgeous; she did a wonderful job.

The wedding took place on this little bridge so that’s where Joel, his best man and best friend Brent Kornegay, and the minister waited. There was a young man playing guitar and singing before and after the ceremony.  Amanda’s father, Jim, walked her into the wedding area and everyone was so moved by their entrance.  Of course all of us were trying to take the most perfect picture of them. The ceremony was not long; they repeated their special vows to one another and also exchanged rings.

I am so happy to say that my little sister and her roommate Val, made it to the wedding.  Cheryl had attended a conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and had to drive to Charlotte from the Atlanta airport on Saturday afternoon. I didn’t get to visit with her for very long, but I sure was glad she got here. Anyway, when the photographer started taking pictures of the wedding party, I gave her my camera so she could take the same pictures as the photographer.

After we finished with the pictures, everyone headed for Indian Trail, North Carolina, where the reception was held. Amanda’s Aunt Dot made the wedding cake which was in the shape of a panda.  Katy, Amanda’s sister, ordered the topper which was two little pandas.  Not only did Sherri make all the flowers, she also made the centerpieces for the reception. We good ole moms prepared the food for the reception.  But it was a labor of love for both of us and we would do it again for our wonderful children.

Joel and Amanda are now in Jamaica enjoying their honeymoon and all of our best wishes are with them.  They are a perfect pair and I am so thankful that Joel has Amanda in his life.  And you know something – I kinda like her too.

See ya next Wednesday.

Playing in the Corncrib and Barn

When we moved to our new house on the Bottom Road, we actually moved back to the farm where my grandmother, Mawdie, was raised.  And, on that farm was a barn and corncrib.  After my Mawdie’s parents died, there were no more cattle so the barn and corncrib were pretty much empty.

My mom and her sister used the corncrib for storage.  I remember that after Greg was born, Rose put all of his baby clothes in the corncrib.  She also put a lot of the clothes she didn’t wear in there too.  Well, let me tell you that was a veritable treasure for my little sister and me.  There was also some pieces of furniture in there, and the biggest treasure of all was a genuine Tiffany lamp that belong to some of my grandmother’s people.  It was the prettiest thing I ever saw and I told Mawdie that I wanted that lamp when I got older.

Cheryl and I would take our dolls to the corncrib and dress them up in Greg’s baby clothes and then we would dress up in Rose’s old clothes.  We also made a playhouse with the furniture.  There’s no telling how many spiders and snakes were also living in that place but we never saw any so we just never thought about them.

Now, the barn was huge and had several stables where my great-grandfather housed his cattle, mules and horses. Dad kept hay in the hayloft for the garden and also for the few cows he had.  We made another playhouse in the hayloft and used the bales of hay for furniture.  We did see a bunch of little baby mice one time in the barn and they were the cutest things.  Just a quick note here; this picture was taken during the 1937 flood and that’s my great-grandfather standing by the corncrib.  Now, the 1937 flood is a story for another day.

I may have mentioned this before, but I’m gonna tell it again.  Dad built a dog pen beside the barn with a doghouse for two little hunting dogs.  When he bought his cows, he had to fence in an area around the barn so the cows wouldn’t wander off. Every afternoon, one of us girls had to feed the dogs with the leftovers from supper. One afternoon I took the food up there; and once I got to the dog pen, I started calling the pups so I could feed them.  While I was standing there talking to the dogs, I heard the most awful thundering noise and it was getting closer to me all the time.  I looked up and here came the cows and they were coming at a pretty good pace.  Oh Lord, they were run all over me and kill me.  My only escape was to climb the fence so they wouldn’t stomp me to death.  Now, just picture it — a kid hanging onto a fence for dear life and a bunch of cows just milling around waiting to be fed.  You see, when Dad fed them, he always called them so they thought I was gonna feed them too.

Well, I didn’t get that Tiffany lamp that I wanted so much.  Some lady sweet talked my grandmother into giving it to her.  I was really disappointed about that but I guess I didn’t need it anyway.

See ya next Wednesday.


Making Strawberry Jam

Today I’m gonna do something a little different.  My son and I have always loved challenges, especially when it comes to cooking.  We have tried all kinds of recipes and made up several of our own.  Sometimes the dishes turn out good; and other times, well, let’s just say they needed something (throwing out would be a good thing).

So, last year we decided we would make some apple butter.  In one of my earlier posts, I told you about going to the mountains with a couple of my friends and buying apples.   Joel and I got all the fixins for canning and one day we tackled making apple butter.  The directions said to let it come to a hard boil and I don’t think we got that right because the apple butter turned out more like spiced applesauce and still tastes good.  I also use it when I make applesauce bread.  I dried some apples and have made fried apple pies with those – you talk about yummy.  I pickled some green tomatoes and made green tomato relish and both of those turned out good.  But I digress.

This year we decided to make some strawberry jam.  I bought a book from Ball and it really has some great recipes in it.  So, a couple of weeks ago, we set up to make our first batch of strawberry jam.  We put the jars in a hot water bath and heated the lids like the directions said.  I washed the strawberries, capped them and mashed them with a potato masher.  We added pectin and lemon juice and let the berries come to a rolling boil.  Now, the directions said to bring the strawberries to a boil on high heat; I’m here to tell you that is wrong because we almost burned them.  Once it started boiling, we had to add several cups of sugar all at once and and again let the berries come to a rolling boil.   So, after the mixture boiled for a minute, we put it into the jars, made sure the rims were clean before we put the lids and rings on them and moved the jars to the hot water for processing. We ended up with 11 jars of strawberry jam.  And, they turned out beautifully.  After we finished, we went for some barbecue.

Since we had such a good time making jam the first time, we decided we would make some more this past weekend.  Joel got the strawberries this time.  Actually, he and Amanda picked them at a U-Pick farm on Saturday.  He came over bright and early Sunday morning and the adventure began.  It was basically the same process as before, but he brought a bigger pot for boiling the berries.  We made 12 jars of jam.  But, since this went so fast, we decided we would go buy more berries from the fruit stand up the road and make another batch.  We got what we needed and came back and ended up with 13 more jars of jam.

We totally trashed my kitchen.  There were strawberries and strawberry juice everywhere, especially on us.  But you know, that’s why God made soap and water. And no matter how big of a mess we made, we had a great time working together, trying to figure out how to make the jam and getting everything done the right way.

And guess what — we’re gonna do more canning this summer.  We plan to can some soup, tomatoes, veggies and meat.  Joel is gonna get a pressure canner for these so this will be another new adventure for us.  Hopefully this time, Amanda will be able to join us.

See ya next Wednesday.


Learning to Drive a Straight-Shift Car

Today I am going to tell you how my dad taught me to drive a straight-shift car.

As I have told you before, the Bottom Road was a one-lane gravel road, as were all the secondary roads, and was full of loose gravel and ditches.  When meeting another car on a gravel road, you would have to get as close to the edge of the road as possible without running into the ditch.  And you had to be careful of the loose gravel because if you hit it traveling too fast, you could lose control of your car and end up in a ditch or in somebody’s front yard.

My first car was a Corvair which I absolutely loved; but I always wanted a Mustang and my Uncle Chapel finally found one for me.  The only problem was the Mustang was straight-shift and I had absolutely no idea how to drive it.  So, Dad decided he would teach me how to drive the Mustang on our gravel road; and I’m here to tell you this little event was not pretty.  If you have ever driven a straight-shift car, you know that the first thing is taking off in first gear without killing the engine. That takes time to learn and lots of patience from the teacher.  So, in learning how to get it out of first gear without killing the engine, I would gun that sucker and that’s when I would throw loose gravel all over the place.  It was a no-win situation for me because my dad was not a patient man and fussed at me the whole time.  It took several tries before I conquered the straight-shift; but I finally learned how to drive that Mustang and I have my dad to thank for sticking with me during that scary time.

One winter day, we woke up up to snow.  I was attending business school in Paducah and they didn’t dismiss classes for a few snowflakes.  Before I left, I had to promise my mom that I would call her when I got to school; otherwise, she would have worried all day about me.  I left home driving very carefully and didn’t get off the Bottom Road before I came upon this big hill that I had to drive to the top of in order to get to Highway 68.  I had never driven in snow and was also driving my Mustang.  Anyway, I started up that hill and began to slide around a little bit.  That scared the crap out of me; and I since I had no idea how to stop skidding, I just gunned that puppy and didn’t take my foot off the gas pedal until I got to the top of that hill.  I also cleaned out a ditch while I was at it.  I went on to school like nothing had happened.  And, I didn’t even scratch the car.

I kept the Mustang for several years and finally gave it to my little sister.  She had to learn to drive that straight-shift monster too, but Dad wasn’t brave enough to take that on for a second time.  Cheryl’s best friend, Diane Dole (we called her “Dirty Diane”) taught her how to drive the Mustang when we lived in Eddyville, KY.

See ya next Wednesday.