Showing posts with label The good ole days. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The good ole days. Show all posts

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Good Ole Days

An Old Grismill

This afternoon a look at this old gristmill brought back memories of its original use––or at least what my dad intended to use it for.  I think he bought it at an old junk store called Fry’s on North Main Street, here in Weatherford, and being a do-it-yourself kind of guy, thought he could grind his own cornmeal.
It did grind the shelled corn he poured into its hopper, but turning the wheel produced nothing close to the fine meal Mother used for cornbread, It was very coarse, more like chicken feed, so it was retired to the barn where many years later I retrieved it and have now placed it in use far different from that of long ago.
I think he frequented the junk store quite often, and probably for the same reasons most of do nowadays–-to find something useful at only a few cents on a dollar, or something surprising nice. Like the cobalt blue cathedral bottle he bought for my mother. 
One day he came home with an old cast iron kettle and from then on, it sat on the back of the cookstove, providing a constant supply of hot water. It held the heat much longer than the previous aluminum one. And yes, I still have both. Would I throw anything away?  

No, of course not, and  glad I haven't. The    old "hot water heater" has turned into a great piece for holding those Christmas poinsettias.

            Usually, Dad’s suggestions were followed withoutquestioning. There was never, never, any argument––until the time we had no milk.
         Cows are not providers of a constant supply of milk. They take a break to have a baby calf and then again become a dependable supplier of fresh milk. This  eventuality is something a farmer plans for, but plans are merely plans, and occasionally  reality rules. So for several weeks we had no milk.
         In these modern times, a trip to the grocery store would be the logical thing to do, but these are tales of farm life in the Depression Era. A person did not drive twelve miles to town to buy milk, plus the ice to keep it chilled, in order to have fresh milk for a couple of days. Not even to pour over your morning cereal.
         Dad started each day fortified with a hefty breakfast: a bowl of oatmeal, some sort of cured pork,( although it usually began to taste a bit stale between hog-killing times),  an egg, and several biscuits.
         On the other hand, I refused to eat those slimy oats, merely poked at my eggs, would not drink milk, and was generally a bratty kid at breakfast time. So, even in those hard times, I was humored with boxed ceral—usually Post Corn Flakes which at that time cost less than 10¢ for a large box.
         So-o-o, we had no milk. Dad doused his bowl of slimy oats with generous helpings of butter and sugar. I stared at choices: my box of dry cereal, the platter of scrambled eggs, or the remaining dish of oats.  My father suggested I add sugar and water to the corn flakes and they’d be almost as good as before.
         With the choices before me, that seemed like the best idea so I dished up my corn flakes and sugar, and tried the new watery taste. It was a taste I never tried again. And Dad never suggested it again.

Ah-h, the good ole days!




Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sewing in the Good Ole Days

         Remember when we sewed? Department stores had bolt after bolt of fabrics and sewing notions of every description: thread, buttons, lace, and a counter of pattern books. These were huge hard backed catalogues filled with  pictures of available patterns, which were filed in large cabinets.
        These catalogues changed with the seasons and if a seamstress was alert she could be the first to place her name on the front cover and when the new one came in the old catalogue was hers to take home.
     Over the years I managed to reserve several and kept them until they were badly outdated before finally selling them and some old patterns at garage sales.
       It appears that I would have been smarter to have kept them somewhere, anywhere, even collecting dust bunnies under the bed, and listed them on today's eBay!  Today I followed a link to eBay’s collectibles RARE VTG 1940s HOLLYWOOD COUNTER Pattern Catalog 1946 and viewed a 1946 Hollywood pattern book that with only four bids had reached $316. Several pages of patterns were shown.  
      I do not remember our stores stocking Hollywood patterns but there were Simplicity, Butterick, McCalls and Vogue, which was the queen of them all. The Vogue instructions were sometimes difficult to follow and I remember once making a suit and coming to a halt when I could see no way to make the limited directions work. I remember going to bed a very frustrated seamstress and after sleeping on the problem decided to quit thinking and start sewing as the instructions stated and the garment turned out perfect.
      My daughters did not have ready-made clothing until they left home and my youngest continued the hand made trend throughout her college days. Several times I made four of five garments (all needed immediately, naturally) and put them in the mail. I expect that today's postage wouId be near the cost of the entire group.
 I enjoyed the sewing and most of all, picking out the fabrics. Occasionally it became a design project with yards of fabric spread across the dining table and pieces of different patterns fitted together in an effort to create a style I had been unable to find in the pattern books. Those were the times I became a wee bit irritable if I were interrupted by rough-housing kids running through the house.
      This prom  formal was a real problem. The shade of fabric we had in mind was not available so by combining two layers of tulle, one apricot and one beige, we were satisified and did the same with the net that was used. The tulle roses were also made of the two combined colors. there were about forty of those with tiny green leaves all thandmade. Yeah, those were the days but somehow, I'm thankful that today all that fabric is not covering my dining table.
      It was fun, fabrics were beautiful and it saved a ton of money. Not so, today.  In the past I often made a garment for a third of what a pattern alone costs today. The remnant table always called me to browse, much to the despair of my daughters. They preferred making their choices from nice fresh bolts of fabric, not a garment made from a pattern adapted to fit on a remnant..  Remnants were a bargain and a challenge I loved to tackle.
      There were occasions when the challenge was greater than I expected and I remember once when working with a Vogue pattern and a remnant of velveteen (one way nap) it took every speck of my patience and every inch of material to make my outfit. Then I discovered it badly needed a self belt and pieced togather the remaining scraps of material  to create strips that then had to be braided to hide the piecing seams. I don’t have any of that remnant left in my scrap box! I do have a cedar chest stuffed with a few favorites including the dress shown.
      As a "fabricaholic" I also have drawers stuffed full of 'bargain fabrics,' their colors and prices were irresistable.
I wonder if I would have the patience to again make a garment. I even have some already cut out, waiting.

Patterns from long ago. Back to the
days we square danced and went

      A few years back fabrics disappeared from our town. Even Walmart discontinued their stock and patterns became nonexistant. Our Gibson's continued to stock cottons but little else. Yesterday I noticed Walmart had created a new area of sewing materials but I didn't investigate the type. Nothing fancy, I expect.
      Did you know that patterns can be viewed and ordered online? I haven't but that sewing machine and those drawers of fabric are whispering to me. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Old Weatherford Square

     Have you noticed our square lately? Probably not for few of us voluntarily navigate the area. The square has had many changes since1855 when Weatherford was first designated the county seat of Parker County. We citizens have protested each change since our original spacious square surrounding the courthouse was sliced away to accommodate the increased interstate traffic demands of Hwy 80. In my opinion, the trees have now grown large enough to compliment the courthouse and the surrounding landscaping is attractive. Of course, we will continue to exercise our right to criticize and complain ……..
      In the beginning we had a courthouse made of logs or split timber and log cabins and tents formed the square. In those days navigating the square was simple…unless a horse chose to buck or something caused a team and wagon run-away.
      My family moved to this county in 1929, one of many seeking a new beginning after the October market crash. Of course I don’t remember the move…truly I don’t! I do remember coming into town from the east side before the bridge over the railroad tracks was built.
         Weatherford, as the hub of the county, became the marketing center for the area’s farm products with the north and east sides of the spacious courthouse square utilized as an open market. In the earlier days the produce was usually brought to market by wagons and teams but by the late ‘30’s many old cars had been modified to carry a load of produce in a makeshift bed covered with canvas to help shade the highly perishable
produce from the sun.
    The ladies of the town could shop from a wide range of produce, some for fresh fruit or vegetables for the evening meal and some buying larger amounts for home canning. Most of the growers preferred to sell in bulk and usually had baskets of tomatoes, black-eyed peas, or peaches displayed for sale. Occasionally baskets of wild plums or grapes were brought in. As a child the job of picking ripe plums fell to me because I was the lucky person small enough to crawl under the low growing trees. What a bit of malarkey but I picked several bushel baskets of those tiny plums. Prices were low: a half-bushel of tomatoes might be 50¢ and might not sell at even that low price. Often a depressing amount of produce was returned home and fed to the hogs. When watermelons ripened, loads of Tom Watsons, and Black Diamonds were brought in and like the vegetable, were priced cheap, the price declining toward the end of the day as the farmers tried to avoid hauling them back home.
          On First Monday,the traditional marketing and trading day of many counties, the square swarmed with horses, mules, goats and dogs. There were crated chickens, geese and rabbits and probably a few wild critters. Anything that could traded for something useful or turned into cash was brought to First Monday, and tools and farm equipment, home canned goods and hand pieced quilts could usually be found.
          Although the marketing portion of the square retained a driving space between its two rows of parking and vendor sites, it was still a navigational nightmare. The square’s parking space had four exits; one on each side of the square but the traffic was two-way.  Shoppers were wandering around, other vehicles were leaving and even a few wagons with their occasionally very .nervous teams, had to make their way out these exits from the square onto the street that circled the entire complex
   Model Ts chugged as they waited an opportunity to move and old Chevys, that collectors would “die” for today, also took their turn, all giving a few “Ooggles” from old horns, their drivers fervently hoping their engines would not die and cause even more confusion while their vehicle was being cranked.
     If you think learning to drive with a stick-shift and stalling on a steep incline is a bad experience, reflect upon the days a car had to be cranked. First the driver needed to adjust the spark and gas levers properly, then getting the crank and going to the front of the car he started cranking to make the engine catch. Sometimes he was lucky and one turn sufficed. Sometimes he cranked and cranked and sometimes there was that dreaded odor of gasoline: flooded!
      The lucky guy whose car started immediately had to rush back to the drivers seat and again adjust those levers and hope that dagburned contraption didn’t stall again.

The next time you are caught in traffic around the square, just think about those good ole days.