Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, June 6, 2004
IW: I’m 96 years old.
CW: That was a long time ago that you were born.
IW: Yes. 1906.
CW: 1906. Do you remember anything about your childhood or youth?
IW: Well, My mother died when I was a couple days old.
CW: Oh, really? What did she die of. Do you know?
IW: Childbirth. And I was raised by my grandparents.
CW: And that was where? Was that in Henry County?
IW: Yes. D. H. Meyer. Mr. And Mrs D. H. Meyer.
CW: Oh, a lot of Meyers.
IW: Yes. I was born in Florida. And I was raised about a mile west of Florida. Dr. Wynn’s farm. Do you know where that is?
IW: The first big farm place on the other side of Florida. The house and barn is up on a hill.
CW: Oh yes.
IW: That’s where I was raisedd.
CW: That’s a nice place.
CW: Beautiful view from up there.
IW: It was.
CW:hliy did they can Flrida “Snake Town”?
IW: I don’t know.
CW: Were there snakes when you were young?
IW: Yes there used to be.
CW: A lot of them?
IW: Actually I’d say that I didn’t see too many.They did say they was around. I never got out too much. I was kind of bashful.
CW: Oh, were you?
IW: Well, my grandparents didn’t take me any place. You know you don’t go like the young people do.
IW: Well, sure. Things were very different then. Did you have a farm?
CW: So probably helped tend chickens?
CW: Did you feed any lambs?
IW: No. We didn’t have no sheep. Chickens and cows and hogs. We did have a few ducks, I don’t know which they were, or geese, I guess.
CW: So you were raised sort of like an only child?
IW: Yes. And then my uncle got married. He lived there with us, with my grandparents. And they had six children when I left there.
CW: So it was a lot like you having a lot of younger sisters and brothers?
IW: Yes, I helped raise them.
CW: How old were you when the uncle came to live there?
IW: It was 1914, I think, so I was eight years old.
CW: So you were still a child?
IW: Yes. My father used to run the, or have the sawmill along 24 there, 424. You know where the park there in Florida?
CW: Oh yes There was a sawmill where the park is now?
IW: Yes. That’s where my father had the sawmill, and I was born across the street from that, across the road from that. It was the fourth house from this end.
CW: That would have been an interesting place in those days. The canal was coming through here, wasn’t it?
IW: Yes. It went through. I can remember the last houseboat going through. It wasn’t pulled by mutes or anything like that anymore.
CW: Did it have an engine or something?
IW: Must have. I can just remember him telling me, “Now that’s the last houseboat you’ll see.”
CW: Well that was an era that didn’t last very long, did it? When the railroads came in that was kind of the end of an era.
IW: Especially when 24 came here, with the trucks.
CW: Oh, I remember when 24 used to go where 424 is. It went right down through the center if your town.
IW: And they took quite a strip off of there, too.
CW: To make it wide enough for the trucks, I suppose.
CW: We used to live on Washington Street and 24 used to curve up and around and by the post office. We were not far from the post office. There was a red light there, and those trucks’ brakes would just make the most racket.
IW: You’re telling me. We used to have quite a curve here in front of the house. It was not unusual to see somebody sitting in your front yard or in the ditch here. They couldn’t make the curve. Going too fast.
CW: Do you remembered when the roads weren’t paved and they had to pull them out?
CW: You do? What was that like? What do you remember about that?
IW: Well, we was married in ’26. This road was built in 1928. I suppose it was ’27 and ’28. This was a gravel road here. In the spring of the year by the line fence the cars would get stuck. My husband would have to take horses and pull them out. And when the snow come, same thing. Even after 24, seemed like it always drifted here.
CW: And they didn’t have the snow plows out like they do now. Did the framers have to plow out the road in front of their houses?
IW: Well, you tried to, but it was too dangerous to get out there with horses.
CW: The cars?
IW: Trucks. The trucks.We used to own 40 acres, about where these houses are down here. It just got too dangerous. You couldn’t even get down the road to farm it, so we sold it.
CW: They must not have slowed much
IW: No, they didn’t. Corning around those curves. They drove that much faster.
CW: Evidently you and your family escaped being run down.
IW: Yes I did. I tell you, I escaped a couple close calls.
CW: You did?
IW: Yes. I was glad I didn’t have to go across the road much. But I know one day I was going across the road, looked both ways. Thought it was all right. I left one truck go past and there was another one behind it. didn’t see it. Just made it.
CW: Are there any stories that you remember of things that happened in your life, like in your childhood in those days?
IW: No, not really. Like I say. I had a very quiet life.
CW: Until you were about 10 years old. Then things started to get lively when your uncle and his grown family were there.
IW: Yes. I tell you. I shouldn’t say it, but I just got tired of taking care of babies and I just as soon take the milk bucket and go out and milk a cow. Had to take care of babies all the time.
CW: Well, I bet you did because you were just kind of a child yourself, and yet you probably had a lot of responsibilities taking care of those little ones.
IW: Yes, I stayed there with them. My grandparents moved to Florida – the town of Florida up here, and I stayed there for a couple years. Then I got married, moved down here.
CW: How old were you when you were married?
IW: Nineteen and a half.
CW: That was not young in those days.
IW: Well, I tell you. I just didn’t have the education to go out and go to the city and work and I didn’t feel like that.
CW: Probably a little too shy.
IW: Yes, I was. And my husband was the only son. He had six sisters. Some of them was married. Some of them wanted to go work. He says, “Let’s get married!” Then we lived here with his folks.
CW: Oh, his folks lived on this farm?
IW: Yes. His folks bought this farm about a month before he was born, in 1901.
CW: So it’s been with the family for 100 years, hasn’t it?
CW: Well, you’ve kept good care of it. It’s a nice place.
IW: He was very proud of it.
CW: How many acres were on it?
IW: Seventy. That was about an average size.
CW: That’s all you’d want with horses.
IW: You had your hands full.
CW: What did your husband raise?
IW: Usually corn, wheat and oats. And he raised sugar beets before we was married, him and his dad.
CW: That was hard work with sugar beets.
IW: They took care of it themselves – blocking.
CW: Blocking, that’s what my husband said was the hardest thing he ever did, blocking sugar beets. How they do that?
IW: With a hoe. It was planted in a row and every so often they’d pull them out.
CW: Oh, so you’d have to dig them out with the hoe?
CW: I thought maybe you’d have to lean over with each one, but I guess not.
IW: No, you used a hoe. But you had to see that you got them pretty well thinned out.
CW: Did you help with canning?
IW: Oh, yes.
CW: Had a big garden?
IW: Yes. When I was 16 or 17 they started 4-H here.
CW: I bet that was exciting for you, wasn’t it?
IW: I didn’t join, but the neighbor lady was the head of it. and she told how they canned stuff, and I tried it. Maybe you don’t know, they used to can tomatoes one day and the next they’d be startin’ working, mold, cans would break open. And I started cold packing them and that was the last of that.
CW: Last of that spoiling?
CW: You must have done a good job of it, because I’ve canned and I did what I was supposed to do and they still didn’t keep very long.
IW: Yes, I did a lot of canning and I still do.
CW: You still do?
IW: Yes. Canned what I could last year.
CW: Do you have a garden?
IW: A little one. Don’t need much for one person.
CW: What do you put in the garden?
IW: A few tomato plants, few cabbage plants, some mangos, some pickles, beans, onions. Peas I didn’t raise. I used to.
CW: I remember my mother having sweet peas, not in the vegetable garden, but in the flowers. I always thought those smelled so good.
IW: Yes, I always liked them. I had some too, years ago. Liked to grow up on the fence.
CW: Any memories that come to mind?
IW: Nothing special. I always liked to sew. I done a lot of sewing.
CW: What did you sew?
IW: I made all my children’s clothes.
CW: How many children did you have?
CW: You had six children of your own after raising your uncle’s?
IW: Yes, I helped six of my uncle’s and I raised six of my own. Four girls and two boys. Two girls are gone already. Do you know Ronnie Upp? His wife is one of them. Lois Griffith. Charlie Griffith. His wife is my youngest.
CW: They were both pretty intelligent, I thought. What did she die of? Cancer or something?
IW: Pancreatitis. She had a hysterectomy and she never got straightened out from that. It just went from one thing to another. Couldn’t get ahead of it. He’s teaching at Northwest State. Walter Meyer’s wife is my daughter.
CW: Well, you certainly have a clear complexion. Ninety-six years old and you have hardly any wrinkles at all. My mother used to say, “Well, if you’d put on more weight, you wouldn’t have those wrinkles.”
IW: I’d like to lose a little. I don’t know if it’s for the good or bad. You mentioned something about Girty’s island. I don’t know much about that.
CW: Is that across the street from here?
IW: It’s down that way. You know where the Gunn’ s live?
CW: No. What does their farm look like?
IW: Oh, where the bridge goes across the ditch? That’s the Gunn farm. Girty’s island is this way from that – a little ways. Where you go around that curve, there’s a house here and across the road from that, that’s Girty’s Island. Well, I guess it’s connected to the Gunn farm.
CW: Do they own that island?
IW: No. I don’t know who owns that now, but they own the ground next to it.
CW: Did you ever hear any stories about Girty and his brother out on that island? I read about them in the history books.
IW: I have, too.
CW: I thought, Oh my it would be valuable if anyone would have heard any local stories about them.
IW: No, that was before my day.
CW: They were bad people according to the local people, and I think rightly so if they turned on their own people, helped the Indians to destroy their own people.
IW: That’s for sure.
CW: Did Florida, was it the same when you were there as it is now?
CW: What was it like originally?
IW: I was told years ago, they had 11 saloons.
CW: In Florida?!
IW: That’s what I was told at one time – 1l saloons. That was before my day.
CW: That probably was in the time of the canal.
IW: Oh, yes.
CW: And probably had an inn or something where people could stay all night.
IW: I don’t know if they did or not. I imagine they did. They had a place for where they made flour, flour mill.
CW: Was that close to the sawmill?
IW: It’s just before you cross the canal bridge where that restaurant is. It was a big building in there. It was just like an elevator. Could be that they had places where people could stay there, I don’t know.
CW: I bet they did, because they didn’t go very far, about 15 miles an hour would take them a long lime. Did you go to school in Florida? Did they have a school there?
IW: Yes. A three room school. Two year high school and the eight grades.
CW: Did you have, they must have had more than one grade.
IW: There was four grades. First, second, third, and fourth grade in one room. Fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth in the other room and there was two years of high school upstairs. Then there was another room where they played basketball and stuff like that.
CW: Where was this building then?
IW: The School House?
IW: You know where the school house is now? It was this way from it. There’s two little houses built back there, and the one house sits where the school house was.
CW: So, they must have torn the school house down.
IW: Yes. And they built the other one, and that was all school ground there in that vacant ground that’s back of them. That was the school ground.
CW: So you walked to school probably.
IW: Yes, all by myself.
CW: Even in first grade?
IW: Yes, I did. First day I went to school they took me. I rode in a wagon. In a wagonbox with my cousin.
CW: Bet you can still remember that, can’t you?
IW: Yes. Scared to death. Well, my grandparents talked German and I couldn’t talk English. You can imagine.
CW: And they only talked English in the school, I suppose.
CW: Well, how did you manage?
IW: Well, I just picked it up. My aunt and uncle, they could talk German, but talked English. And my grandmother never did learn to talk English. She could understand you, but she couldn’t talk it. My grandfather could talk it. He was born here in the United States.
CW: Out here in this area?
IW: Around Okolona.
CW: And your Grandmother must have come across from Germany?
IW: Yes, from Germany.
W: With her family, I suppose. Did they come up on the canal boat then?
CW: How did they get here?
IW: I don’t know. I don’t know.
CW: You wouldn’t have any of you mother’s memories since she died when you were a few days old.
IW: Yes. She was a seamstress. Done a lot of sewing.
CW: Did she sew for other people?
CW: Did you, too, for other people?
IW: Had enough of my own. With the other work. There was always baking and churning, washing and ironing, gardening. You name it.
CW: Did you have that schedule? They used to say Monday wash day, Tuesday iron day.
IW: Yes. Pretty well.
CW: What did you do on Wednesday?
IW: Well, it was usually baking or churning or something.
CW: How did you chum your butter? The butter you were talking about.
IW: Well, you separated the milk. You run it through a cream separator to get the cream.
CW: Was that electric?
IW: Oh, we used hand power. And before they had a cream separator, they used to put the milk in crocks. And let the cream come to the top and skim it off.
CW: Then they would use the cream to make butter? How did they go about making the butter?
IW: My grandmother had a small churn, about that high. That big around. You put about 2 gallon of cream in there. Then you turn it.
CW: It had a crank on it, on the end or something?
CW: You had to turn it a long long time, I bet.
IW: It all depended on the condition of your cream. Sometimes it turned to butter easier.
CW: Just like we used to whip cream. Some days it was easy to whip cream and some days hard. I think the moisture in the air had something to do with it.
IW: Yes, I think so.
CW: How did you know when the butter was formed?
IW: You could tell by the sound of it. It slopped the sides. Just like you had water in it.
CW: You could feel that heavy object, too, as you churned it.
IW: Yes. Then after we got married, I, we had small glass churns here That’s what I used after I was married.
CW: They had a crank on the top, didn’t they, and you could see then when the butter was formed?
CW: Now, the liquid that you poured off after the butter was made. Is that what you called whey?
IW: Buttermilk. That’s buttermilk. Whey is when you take sour milk and heat it so it’s good and warm, and that separates the water and… that’s where you get your cottage cheese.
CW: That’s where you have curds and whey? The cheese is the curds and the whey is the whey?
CW: LEt’s go back to this butter. Turn the churn and you’ve got it made. What do you do with it then?
IW: You take it out of the churn and put it in a bowl. Then you got a paddle and worked the butter around. Work the buttermilk out. You put cold water on it, just like washing, then work it.
CW: So you like massage it with the paddle.
CW: Then do you have to press that water out?
IW: You just gradually drain it off.
CW: I remember seeing my grandmother shape this butter once it was made, and I think she did that with a paddle.
CW: And then did you mark it on the top?
IW: Oh you could, if you wanted to make it fancy. Then you didn’t have no refrigeration either. You couldn’t make too much ahead. It’d get strong for you Tried to keep it cool in the summer.
CW: Did you have apple trees?
IW: We did up there where I was raised
CW: At your grandparents?
IW: Yes. Had all kinds of fruit trees. We had our own fruit.
CW: Then you canned it?
IW: Yes. We had some fruit trees here. You didn’t spray them and then they wasn’t too good.
CW: When you don’t need them in the winter, you’re not as careful about keeping them up.
IW: In the fall you’d bury them in the ground, cover them with straw and take them out about February or March.
CW: Would they still he good?
IW: Yes. If you got enough stuff on them so they didn’t freeze.
CW: You had this hole in the ground rather than a fruit cellar or anything.
CW: You put your apples in there. Pears too?
IW: We never put pears in.
CW: They maybe didn’t keep as well.
IW: No, I don’t think so.
CW: Any other kind of fruit you raised? …trees the way they do now?
IW: The big orchards did. My grandfather tried. He didn’t have the patience with it. That takes a lot of work. My daughter-in-law, they had a lot of fruit trees. They always spray them.
CW: You have to spray them ever couple of weeks now.
IW: Yes. She hates to use them when they got worms in them.
CW: We used to have to just cut those worms out, didn’t we?
IW: Yes. My husband is interested in that spraying, but he just died.
CW: That’s a lot of work and dangerous work, too.
CW: Did you have grapes?
CW: Did your grandfather or your husband make wine.
IW: Tried to.
CW: Had a lot of vinegar. I’ll bet?
Yes. We had a lot of grapes up there. Then they had quite a few here, too. And when they built the road, they took on. Right along the road.
CW: Now that would have been the state, I suppose, that came through, take the land, and put the road in.
CW: Did they ask your permission first?
CW: What if you wouldn’t give it?
IW: They’d take it anyhow.
CW: Did they pay you for it?
IW: think so, a little bit. Butchering was another big deal.
CW: Now, if you didn’t have pigs, then you butchered cows, right?
CW: Tell me about it. Tell me about butchering cows.
IW: I don’t know too much about it. Years ago when I was a kid, you didn’t eat much beef. It was all pork.
CW: I wonder why.
IW: I don’t know. I know up there, if they got a quarter beef for the family it was plenty.
CW: For the whole year?
CW: So that was sort of a treat, beef was?
IW: The reason was, it was hard to keep.
CW: Oh, it didn’t keep as well as pork?
IW: Well, how are you goin to do it? That was before they canned beef. Years ago they never canned beef They used to cut it some way, and then they’d dry it, smoke it. We never cared much for that.
CW: They used have smoke houses, but that would have been pork, I suppose?
IW: Yes. First you salted them, cut them dried out and then smoked them. Then you’d eat them in the summer when they got so strong that you didn’t like them. And they didn’t trim them like they do now-a-days.
CW: Did they have fat on them?
CW: How did they preserve the beef?
IW: They didn’t. You just got a quarter and eat it.
CW: When it was gone, no more beef for a while.
IW: That’s right. They used to make summer sausage and put beef with that. I think that’s why they really got the beef.
CW: ‘Cause that would keep, would it?
IW: After it’s smoked and cured. A lot of work to that, too.
CW: How ‘d they do that?
IW: You grind your sausage. Then you put it in casings, beef casings.
CW: And beef casings are something you got from the store?
IW: No, you had your own or else you used the… I can’t think what you call them. When you butchered, the inside where the fat was there’s a skin on there. You skinned that, and you sewed that for to put your summer sausage in.
CW: So it was how big around?
IW: Well your beef casings was that big around.
CW: Oh, about as big around as a big round of bologna?
IW: Yes, but these (I can’t think what they called them) were this big and then you had to sew them up, but they kept good in the summer time, and that be stuffed. Then you had to press them, get them solid. If you didn’t get them solid, then they’d mold.
CW: Well, how did you press them, then, with your hands?
IW: No, you’d put them on the table, and put your sausage down, then you’d put boards, about a week or ten days. Got some salt to cure the casings with it, pressed them, then hung them up and dried them and smoked them.
CW: Well, that’d he a pretty lengthy process. I remember I was at my husband’s family. They lived on a farm near Archhold, and I remember one day when they must have been butchering or something . They had a little machine, worked by hand, that they would thread the intestinal casing on to that and then they would put the sausage in the top somehow, and if they would turn the crank, sausage would come out.
IW: Sausage stuffer.
CW: Yes, sausage would come out. Then they’d cut it every once in a while and twist it.
IW: Then you’d fry it down.
CW: Before they preserved id, they’d fry it down?
IW: That’s the way they preserved it. You roasted it in the oven. Get it out, then pack it in a jar or a can and then put the grease on it that fried out to seal it.
CW: Then the grease would preserve it?
IW: Yes. And if you didn’t get it done, you had moldy sausage.
CW: You had to be sure you got them good and done then.
CW: What did they fry in the deep kettle, the big iron kettles?
CW: When they were butchering, they’d cut the fat and throw it in this big kettle which had a fire under itt, outside I presume.
CW: And that would gradually melt.
IW: Just like cook it. And then your lard gets just like water. It looks like water when it’s hot.
CW: And then what would they do?
IW: Put it in jars.
CW: Put it in jars so they’d have lard to use during the year.
CW: And the cracklings would be the little pieces of skin, I suppose.
IW: It’s what you fried out, what didn’t … it got pressed. Some people like to eat them.
CW: They still do.
IW: Sell ’em in the store. Don’t appeal to me (ha ha).
CW: You probably didn’t care much for butchering day. It meant a lot of work, I suppose.
IW: I kinda enjoyed it. Yes. My husband made all the different kinds of sausage. One year when we was first married, my husband and his father, they wanted to go out and husk corn. They had butchered a hog a day or two before and had cut it up , and they wanted to go out and husk corn. They said, well the meat had to be taken care of. I says, “Well, I can cook it and I can make prettles and I can make sausage.” I guess my father-in-law thought, “She don’t know much about it.” But I don’t know if you know what head cheese is.
CW: I often wondered what was in head cheese. I’ve seen it, of course.
IW: It’s, well, you might say, it’s left overs You put rinds and a little meat.
CW: What kind of meat?
IW: Bone meat, a little and that’s where you use your rinds from the cooked meat. He didn’t put no extra meat in it. And you’d put your heart and tongue in with it too. Cut that up, and I was learned that you’d put a piece of heart and tongue with it. When they come in, I had it done. They was kind of surprised. After that the head cheese was made different. (ha ha)
CW: They decided they’d better make it themselves?
IW: No, they liked it the way I made it. Had a little extra meat in it, something else besides just the rinds.
CW: Was that done like the sausage that you put it in the casing and pressed it, then fried it? And once it was fried, then did you hang it up to dry?
IW: You mean the summer sausage?
CW: The head cheese.
IW: The head cheese. No. That was put in the stomach. You skinned the stomach. You took the inside out of the stomach, then you throwed the stomach with it, and you cooked it.
CW: How’d you cook it?
IW: Cooked the whole stomach in a big kettle out in the yard outside or if it was done on butchering day, you take out of the kettle, just like your blood pudding, liver pudding.
CW; How was that made? Same way?
IW: Yes. There was a lot of work to it. Made plenty of them casings
CW: On this sewing, I’ll bet you were good at making quilts too.
IW: No, I didn’t have time for quilts.
CW: Sure, you had a big family to take care of and sew for all those girls.
IW: I made a couple before I was married. Then t didn’t make any until my youngest girl got pretty well grown up. I made enough for one for each one of the grandchildren, which is 20, and the children each got a couple. Then I’ve got a couple left here.
CW: Well, you’ve made quite a few I’d say.
IW: Yes. And then for the great grandchildren I started making crib quilts.
CW: And they all take so much time. You have to have those tiny little stiches.
IW: Yes. I can’t do it any more.
CW: I could never do it, to where it was very good. I’d like to get in on the quilting because they’d all be sitting around talking and enjoying it, but I had the feeling that sometimes after I left, they pulled my stitches out and sewed them back in again. (ha ha)
IW: I’ve seen that done. I used to belong to the Ladies Aid up here and went quilting, but I can’t anymore.
CW: Meticulous work, has to be done just so. That needle ‘s got to go all the way through and so forth.
IW: I’ve seen it already quilted with threads hanging down below.
CW: That’d be pretty careless.
IW: Yes, it was a mess. And they pulled out some of mine, too. (ha ha)
CW: Did you make coats for your girls?
CW: That was hard, I’ll bet, wasn’t it? Bet you put in the heavy outside?
IW: I used old coats and made them over for little ones. Other than that, I didn’t.
CW: Then you could use the old linings, from the old coals. Saved a lot of money that way. did you have a Singer sewing machine?
IW: I didn’t in them days.
CW: A treddle machine?
IW: I had my mother’s, a treddle machine.
CW: Well, they were pretty efficient, those old treddle machines.
IW: Yes. I had that until ’36.
CW: So until you were married about 10 years?
IW: Yes. Now my sewing machine sets there.
CW: Electric now. The one my mother had, you pressed with your knee to make it go.
IW: Well this can be used either way.
CW: Nice little cabinet. You walked to school. Go back to when you were in school. Did you have friends that you walked with?
IW: No. I was the only one from that direction.
CW: You were alone a lot.
IW: ‘Til I was in 5th or 6th grade. There was a neighbor boy. We walked together.
CW: Would you play on the way to school and back?
IW: We didn’t have time. No, we didn’t think of that, I guess.
CW: Were they pretty strict in school? A lot different than it is now.
IW: Yes, well I don’t know whether it was stricter, but the kids was all together different than they are now.
CW: In what way?
IW: I think the kids tempt you a lot more. Dare you to do this or that. Oh they pulled tricks on the teacher, too, in them days.
CW: Do you remember any?
IW: Their folks would butcher and they’d bring the pigtail a shoe box. Big present for the teacher, I guess. (ha ha) That was one thing. Or catch some little animal, put it in a box and bring it to the teacher.
CW: I bet you got so that you were afraid to open the box?
CW: Then when you got into, say, high school, did you go to parties or dances or anything?
IW: Didn’t have anything like that. They had basketball for the boys, but that was it.
CW: No, they didn’t used to have sport for the girls at all, did they?
CW: I remember the girls saying they wouldn’t want to do anything in gym class. They wouldn’t want to play ball or anything. They’d get big muscles and they were afraid they’d look bad.
IW: No, you had your own games in the school ground, and that’s it.
CW: What sort of games did you play?
IW: Baseball, well, I don’t know what you would call it. See, there was a hill in front of the schoolhouse, and that was very tempting for the kids to slide down there.
CW: On their stomachs, or did they bring their sleds?
IW: Just on their feet.
CW: Oh, slide down on their feet?
IW: Yes. Then you’d fall down.
CW: Did you do it, too?
IW: I tried it once. That was enough.
CW: You know, when 1 was in grade school, we girls had a place where the water when it had rained had drained in this one corner of the school house and it went down hill. So it was just kind of a natural slide. And we were enjoying that, and didn’t some big boy come and put ashes on our slide. I was so mad! I started after him. He ran and I ran, and I caught him just in the doorway of the school. He couldn’t get in the school so I got him and I grabbed his hair. He yelled for mercy. Boy, I was so mad, I pulled on his hair. (ha ha)
IW: The boys would try to chase the girls. Then they’d fall. You couldn’t slide down.
CW: Who’d fall? The boys or the girls?
IW: The girls. Well, I’ll tell you, we really didn’t have much time to go play in school.
CW: They kept you working, huh?
IW: Yes. Time to eat your lunch.
CW: Did they carry their lunch?
IW: Yes. Oh yes. There were no lunches served.
CW: They had homemade bread and butter.
IW: Yes, and jelly soaked in.
CW: … wasn’t allowed.
IW: Didn’t even taste good.
CW: Did you help your grandmother with the baking?
CW: That’s how you learned.
IW: Before I went to school, when my grandmother baked, I always had to have a little piece of dough made into a loaf and put into a tin cup for my grandfather for supper. That’s how I started.
CW: And he probably enjoyed having that from you.
IW: Yes. And after my grandmother got oldes, well then I took over the baking.
CW: Did you change the baking the way you changed the head cheese?
IW: No, not really. He got good bread and he had bad bread.
CW: Some days it just wouldn’t work right.
IW: No, in them days you had yeast foam that’s altogether different than the yeast nowadays.
CW: What’d you call it, yeast foam?
IW: Yeast form. It was in little cakes about that square and that thick. You had to start it the day before and let it set over night. Then the next morning you’d start in baking.
CW: You’d have to get up pretty early in the morning.
IW: That all depends on how soon you wanted it done. In the summer time it was hot and it didn’t take long once in a while.
CW: Did you make just white bread? Or did you make other kinds?
IW: Whole wheat bread once in a while.
CW: Did they make whole wheat at the mill?
IW: Yes. Andrews Mill.
CW: In Florida?
IW: Yes. John Andrews. I guess it was John. Where the Agler farm is.
CW: I’m not very familiar around here.
IW It’s across the river. That house that’s nght at the top of the, at the end of the bridge. That’ s where they made the flour. Cracked flour and corn meal.
CW: So they had a mill there.
IW: Yes, it was, I think they still had it when they had the sale a year ago. It was sold.
CW: It must have been kind of a small mill.
IW: Yes. I think somebody just bought it for an antique.
CW:Tthe railroad didn’t come anywhere near here, did they?
IW: No, not any closer than they are now.
CW: So you didn’t have any of that noisy, smoky thing going through. All you had was the trucks.
IW: Believe it or not, when I was a kid my father lived in Defiance, and they a horse and buggy and took me to Okolona. Put me on the train to go to Defiance. Then my father met me at the depot. You know where that is?
IW: And he lived across from where Diehl’s Brewery is, and then he had to walk.
CW: He had to walk from the train station? That was a long walk.
IW: Yes, he had a horse and buggy, but he walked down to meet me.
CW: Did he remarry?
IW: Yes. I have four half sisters and a half brother.
CW: That was pretty common in those days, wasn’t it?
IW: Yes, and they’re all gone.
CW: They would he younger than you. How many of your siblings are living, your real brothers and sisters?
IW: I didn’t have any.
CW: Oh, you are the only child?
CW: That’s right. You were the only one that was taken to your grandparents.
CW: No wonder you had kind of a lonely life.
IW: Yes. Well times then weren’t like what they are now.
CW: How were they different?
IW: You just stayed to home. You didn’t go here and there. There wasn’t so much going on.
CW: And you couldnn’t talk to other people on the telephone.
IW: Yes, you could.
CW: Oh, you had telephones?
IW: Oh, yes.
CW: What do you remember about, you had the old crank telephone? What do you remember about that?
IW: Well, everybody had their own ring, you might say. Each number had different rings.
CW: What do mean different rings?
IW: For example, our number was 1016, so that was a long ring and a short ring when we answered. Then there was some that had four longs, some two longs, two shorts. That’s how they told the difference. See you was all on lines – so many people on the line.
CW: So, did you have to connect to Central before you could talk to anybody?
CW: How did you do that?
IW: Well you’d turn the crank, and then she’d answer.
CW: Oh, Central would answer first.
IW: Yes. And then you told her who you wanted. Only the people that were on your line, you didn’t have to do it then. You just rang their ring.
CW: What about when somebody was calling you. Did you just pick it up and talk to that person?
CW: You didn’t have to talk to Central then?
IW: No … there was a lot of people listen in on you, too. (Ha ha.)