Farm Life of the Past: July 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Family Ties

There's much to be said about the benefits derived of being born into a big family.

For one...with that larger number of people in your life you have a much better chance of , at least
some of them liking you a lot! :)

Charles was always close to all his family - Parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins...and all the little nieces and nephews that came along later.

Being one of the youngest of the 10 children he was still a kid or a teenager when the new additions started coming along! (his nieces and nephews)

He always talked a lot about his family and I know he missed everyone when he joined the Air Force , right out of high school...but he never went back to Alabama to live, instead, settled in South Florida!

He enjoys going back every year for the reunion. I do too! I love seeing the places of his growing up years...and matching them up with the stories he's told me all through the years. :)


I got this E-mail from one of Charles' (and my) nieces . This shows a bit of the love - still alive and well- with the family!

I thought this was sweet and asked Kathy's permission to put it here on the family memories blog! :) She didn't mind - so here it is!!


Hi June -

I can't seem to find your personal blog - can you send me the
link ?
I want to let Mom catch up on the family stuff -
I just read Mud Bottom and can't wait to share that story with Mom she
will love it ...

I look forward to Uncle Ed telling wonderful stories during the reunion
this year - and maybe this siblings might have a story or two they can
share on him ... : )

My stories would be much too new -for the blog - But here are a couple you
can share with Uncle Ed - I think you and he both will get a kick out of
them -

The one I think you might get the biggest kick out of is...

When I would look at my Uncle Ed's picture (the one when he played football
for West Limestone) and then later on his picture in uniform at Grandmother
Kellum's house...I remember thinking ...he is the most handsome man I had
ever seen - plus I knew how much fun and loveable he was - but when I was
6...I can remember the shear disappointed when somehow I found out - you
couldn't marry your uncle... it wasn't allowed ...even if we did come from
Mud Bottom.

and the story I think my Uncle Ed will lol about is ...

How totally impressed I was when we came to Miami for a visit and he took
us to the Drive In movies - I will never forget - I was so excited he was
taking us to the opening of "Gidget Goes Hawaiian" (1961) ... and I could
not believe it - we drove right up to the ticket booth and MY Uncle ( who I
idolized) flipped out his police badge - and they just waved us in - like
royalty - I was so impressed I could hardly believe it - I think this was
the first memory I have of being on cloud 9 and I knew right away we were
no longer in Mud Bottom !

There is no wonder to this day - I fondly call him my Uncle Ed -

See you guys at the reunion...



This is a picture of the time she's remembering when they came down to visit us in Miami!
Charles and I had been married just a short time. I was 20 and he was 26. The picture is Charles' sister and brother-in- law and his nephew, Steve and niece, Kathy! My little boy, Chris, was less than 2 here. (Chris is from a previous marriage- but Charles has always been his DAD!)

We're looking forward to seeing everyone in about 2 weeks!



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Farm Life of the Past: Breakfast Time more little story from my husband's memories of growing up in a big family in Alabama...
  (First posted, May 2006, at Junie's Place~ comments can be seen there)


Breakfast Time

Breakfast, to feed a family of twelve people, had to be a big thing.

There was the platter of sausage patties, piled in a mountain, perhaps, ten deep at it’s highest point… the biscuits counted in dozens…rolled out and cut in perfect round circles…to rise and brown to perfection… the butter, hand churned and molded in neat blocks, lightly salted… Jams or jellies from the summer’s bounty and canned by Mother and the girls, to mix and melt with the butter inside those biscuits… the eggs, gathered daily, cooked, sunny side up, stacked, one atop the other… the browned, milk gravy – to top it all off!

There was always milk to drink - and buttermilk!

And coffee, hot and black for the adults. It was the custom in those days to pour coffee from the cup into the saucer for cooling- a curious thing to do and something that is seldom seen in today’s world!

Some child among the ten, at almost every meal, would manage to spill a glass of milk!
Being one of the youngest it was often Ed who would have this mishap, resulting in a stern look, at the least, from the head of the family, Daddy! Invariably, with eleven sets of eyes watching, tears would follow!

Sausage, when available, was a favorite of one and all in the family. The platter was passed around the table and everyone took what they wanted. It was considered poor manners to take the last of anything left on a serving dish…(if you were a kid, especially) in case somebody else wanted it.

Once there was one lone sausage left on the serving plate. Several eyes were on this fine morsel but no one had yet worked up the courage to make the move on it.  Finally, one of the older sisters went for it! Her fork was half way back to her mouth with the sausage when it was taken, in mid air, by the older brother; and was gone in a flash!!

So much for manners!!


June Kellum
May, 2006

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Mud Bottom Cotton Chopping-Summer 1944

This is another story from my husband's growing up years in Alabama -  and this is mostly in his own words!


Mud Bottom Cotton Chopping - Summer 1944

The area where this story takes place was known as Mud Bottom. It was in the bend of the Elk River, where Alabama and Tennessee joined, in northern Limestone Co, Al. This river bottom land was excellent farmland. It was called Mud Bottom because of the, often, muddy conditions - especially in winter.

Cotton had to be chopped three times between it’s coming up out of the ground and laying it by. (end of plowing and chopping) With a family of ten children, and Daddy supervising, the work progressed at a steady pace!

(Or a steady CHOP- as it were!)

It was hard work in the sun all day, so we had to have drinking water. Usually one of the boys would be designated for this job. On this particular day Jack was sent to the house where the well was located, on this errand. The well water had to be transported in glass gallon jugs.

This day, Jack was gone an unusually long time, for the two-mile trip- there and back.

Finally, we could see him coming up the field road, with his bare feet kicking up the dust.

It seemed he would never get to us with the cool, fresh water! When he finally reached us we could see why it had taken him such a long time to make the trip.

On the way back with the water he had stopped at a blackberry patch and picked the jug half full of blackberries! That cool, fresh water was filled with all manner of trash, not to mention the small spiders, ants, and bugs!

He thought we would be thrilled that he had brought us the berries but water was what we needed and no one wanted to drink that water!

True to Jack’s sense of humor and personality he said, ”If no one else is going to drink it, I will! I don’t care how trashy it is! I’ll let my kidneys filter it out, all they do is set up in there and ride!”

And with that he tilted the jug and took a long swig!  ;)

Daddy looked at the sky and saw that the sun was about an hour high and said, “Let’s quit for the day!”

June Kellum

May 2006


Thinking about this story I've wondered if there might not have been some secret gratitude felt by some of the others,  for Jack's dallying on that trip for water that day.

In the end  it made for a shorter day!  :)


The group is from about the time of the story. It's the oldest brother  and the 2 youngest sisters of the family.

The mischievous boy peeking around the back is Jack!

The second picture is of Jack , about 19 47.


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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Chopping Cotton

This is a little look into the life of my husband and his brothers and sisters lives in the mid- 40s ~ as retold from his memories.

(Re-post from 'Junie's Place' blog - May 1, 2006 )

Chopping Cotton

It was mid-summer in the cotton field in Alabama, with tempers rising right along with the temperature!

Each face was soon glistening with sweat, attracting a light coating of the dust that resulted with the hoe working the weeds from between the cotton stalks.

The long and weedy rows of cotton seemed to go on and on, endlessly!

This summer the two pre-adolescent sisters, little more than a year apart in age, were getting on each others nerves in a big way.

The brothers, working along with them moved ahead with their work at a good pace, wanting the day’s work to end… though that was not likely to happen before sundown!

The girls, though, seemed to have found a diversion from the boring job of - chop-chop-chop!

The boys, on more than one glance backward toward their younger sisters, had seen

the two girls going at each other- tooth and nail- along with hair pulling! At times, all to be seen was a swirl of dust, as the girls went round and round!

One was overheard saying to her sister, “I wouldn’t mind fightin’ with you if you’d take a bath once in awhile!”

LOL…Life on the farm…


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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Cotton Fields

Charles has many stories of picking cotton, chopping cotton, plowing the fields and planting the cotton ... and of playing in piles of cotton as a kid - with his brothers, sisters and cousins! All things cotton ~ in fact! ;)


This is a modern day cotton field and an OLD red barn! This is near the place where Charles grew up! This farm is near Athens, Al~ the 'town' of my husband's childhood and teen years.

I can imagine that this cotton field looks pretty much as it would have in the early days...though modern ways of growing and gathering of the crops are totally different now! ( Thank goodness for that!)

We got these pictures on a recent trip back to Alabama.


Some stories of cotton picking/chopping days are coming up soon! :)


And this~~~


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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Penny

( first printed at 'Junie's Place'~July 2, 2006 )

...another story from my husband's memories of his childhood. This event was probably in 1939...

(photo of Charles Edward near the time of this story)

The Penny

The baby sister played with a shiny penny she had found or someone had given her. As the young will, she would bring it to her mouth for this new sensation - the feel of it in her mouth and the metallic taste! She would drop it and watch it roll, pick it up and drop it again. What was inevitable, happened, after a while. The penny fell through a crack in the floor of the old log home where this family lived!

The youngest brother, about age five, was told to go under the house to find the penny for the baby sister! The little boy, Ed, thinking of spiders, snakes and other scary things he might meet under there, nevertheless, did exactly as he was told!

The penny was found!

What happened after that has bothered Ed, all the rest of his life!

He told the family he did not find the penny. He put the penny in his own pocket. It became a hot, burning, secret thing, there in his bib overalls!

In the next day or so some of the older brothers and sisters were walking to a little country community store. The mother needed something to prepare the suppertime meal,

perhaps some dried beans! Although it was a long walk to the store in Leggtown, Ed tagged along with the older siblings.

Along the store route, most travelers knew of a natural spring near a church. It was customary for people to stop there for a cool drink of the water. The water, always fresh and cool, flowed out of the rocky hillside; pooling in a cement basin. These travelers to Leggtown, on the errand for their mother, gratefully, stopped for a drink from the spring!

A plan evolved here…or maybe had been in the works all along! After being refreshed with the cool water, and as they started to resume the trip, the little boy, Ed, unobserved by his brothers and sisters, dropped the penny on the ground and ‘Found it’ for the second time!

A found penny! What luck!

With much excitement, and relief on Ed’s part, the group of children traveled on! Ed was now free to contemplate what he might buy with the penny!

At the Leggtown store, Ed was dazzled with the array of candies available for just one penny.

He finally settled on a ‘Walnettos.’ This was a black walnut and caramel candy, which came packaged with several indivually wrapped pieces to the pack!

He shared this with his brothers and sisters, on the long walk back home, having only one piece for himself.


IMO- having known Charles Edward for 46+ years now, this experience was a big influence in helping Ed become the honest, giving and caring man that he is.

He always felt guilt for what that little boy had done, all those years ago!

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Cotton Shed

(Another farm memory re-posted from Junie's Place)

The Cotton Shed

My husband, Charles, grew up in north Alabama, in a farm family of 10 kids. He was number 8 in the line-up, having 3 older brothers and 4 older sisters. He would have 2 sisters born after him.

He has so many stories of his early life, growing up in the country in a family that farmed for a living, as most did at that time in the rural south. The stories are entertaining in the re-telling but not, necessarily, in the living through them.

Charles has memories of living in several different locations during his early life, but all in the general area of north Alabama, Limestone Co.

The home place of this remembrance of my husband was what the family always referred to, in later years, as the frontier place. The house and all the outbuildings were made from rough-cut logs! Even in the late 1930s, that farm had to have been old! The time of this account was when my husband was about age 4 -as near as he can determine - probably in 1939. He was born in April, 1935.

The family grew cotton, with all the kids, as they grew old enough, doing their share in the fields and around the farm. Old enough, in those days, was by age 6 or so.

The fields were plowed in those earliest days, not with a tractor, but with a plow pulled by mules! (Joe and Nell are 2 Mule names I remember hearing!) Between the planting of cotton in the spring and picking of the cotton in the fall, came the hoeing and thinning of the growing crops; a dreaded job, I have been told.

Cotton was the main crop, however a garden was always a necessity, too, with 12 people in the family, to feed. They always had cows for milk and butter…chickens for eggs and meat…and hogs for lard and sausage and other meats!

(And that’s another story for later!) :) *Jake*)

In 1939, Charles was not yet old enough to work but tagged along after the older brothers around the place. I suppose it was fall because they were harvesting cotton. It was stored - just loose cotton- in a shed (cotton crib) built just for that purpose - a building about 16x16 ft. Like all the buildings of the farm this small building was made of logs, but unlike the house, it had small spaces between the logs not filled in with mortar! Breathing spaces…which would come in handy!

Being near the end of harvesting the building was 2/3 full of fluffy, loose cotton; to a height of 5 feet or more. The older brothers, in fun, decided to dig a hole in the pile of cotton, and put the little brother down in it… face down, flat on the floor, with his nose against a breathing crack between the logs! They did this and then covered him with the cotton, completely… telling him to keep his nose to the crack and lie real still! Miraculously, this little boy did not panic but did exactly as his brothers told him to do.

I feel sure they didn’t leave him like that for long, but to a little boy, it had to be scary! Dangerous too! …However, it ended well. You’ve all met my Charlie! :) Country boys CAN survive!

(his own words ~well~ and Hank Jr's!)


Every July we visit the folks in Alabama, and we always ride out and see all the old places of my husband’s childhood.

On this particular place of this story, the only building still there is the cotton shed! I have taken pictures of it a few times and we have even talked of trying to buy it, dismantle it and bring it to our place here in Ocala, Fl., and re-assemble it. I would love that!
It would make such a wonderful addition to our place here…for a garden shed! Or just for the HISTORY of it!

#1- a recent pic of the cotton shed
#2- another original building, from that time and place,
with the wood shingled roof.
This was the smoke house.
The baby is Charles’ youngest sister, Mildred!
(This photo, late 30s)


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