Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Good Morning, Class of '64
Here's the Steeple - Kathryn Fincher

Another Day with Larry

and Other Holidays,
at Our House

Celebration of holidays was different then. We had no electricity, so there were no lights. We had no television so there were no football games or parades. Money was scarce so there weren’t many gifts, and they were not expensive. Gifts were very practical, clothes most of the time. We ate well, but there was no turkey. We ate about the same things that we always did with a bit more sweets. Our celebration of holidays focused more on family, community, and the meaning behind them. Barbara Mandrell recorded a song called “Christmas at Our House” which says “Christmas at our house, was good.” It, and the other holidays, at our house was good.
 Christmas at our House
Barbara Mandrell
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were never a big deal. We usually “celebrated” them like Labor Day - we labored! There were sometimes some firecrackers, and some of the men shot their guns into the sky at midnight, but that was about the extent of those holidays. Some people traditionally eat a particular meal on New Year’s Day (pork and sauerkraut, etc.), but I cannot remember doing that. I’m not sure we had any particular traditions for New Year’s.

Easter was a big deal. After my sisters were married, they always came home for Easter. There were Easter baskets, chocolate-covered eggs, and chocolate bunnies. I remember how hurt and angry I was when I first discovered that the chocolate bunnies were hollow! We dyed eggs and had egg hunts at home and at school. We always had pickled eggs and deviled eggs. We usually had new or more often newly recycled clothes for Easter Sunday. I cannot remember any particular church activities for Easter.

Memorial Day (We called it Decoration Day.) was the next major holiday. It was pretty big in our community. A few days before Memorial Day, the people in the community got together to clean and mow the cemetery. There was often a pot-luck picnic. Then on Memorial Day (May 30th, not the Monday closest to it), each family visited the cemetery to decorate the family graves with fresh flowers - no plastic ones then. We always went to the Ware’s Ridge Cemetery; Mom’s parents and a brother named Stanley are buried there. We often went to the family Cemetery near Elkwater; Dad’s parents and much of his family are buried there. We sometimes went to the Beal Cemetery, the Mingo Cemetery, or the Valley Head Cemetery. Dad always liked to visit cemeteries, and Mom always enjoyed the flowers. I always thought putting flowers on the graves was silly, but I now do it.

Independence Day, which we called “The Fourth of July,” was a community holiday. The entire community went to a picnic area, and we all ate together. Whittaker Falls and Flat Rocks, both on the Elk River, are the only two places I can recall. Flat Rocks is an area of limestone, pretty much flat, that covers several acres; people used to have dances and parties there, often held by lantern light. We went to some other large picnic areas. We all looked forward to and enjoyed the Fourth - good food, good talk, and often fishing, too. We kids got to play together the entire day - a rarity because we could not get together very often in the summer. We were too far apart, and there was to much work to do.

The entire community usually went to the Methodist Sunday School Convention each summer. It was held at one of the larger churches in the district. Cowger and Point Mountain are two I can recall. It was an all-day affair with reports, preaching, singing, and dinner-on-the-ground. Most people went more for the socializing and the food than the religious aspects. It was a fun day of play for us kids.

Edith and Gerald went to several of these conventions with us. One time when Donna was just a toddler, she became amazed when some people in the service got happy and started shouting, a not-very-rare occurrence then. Donna had been taught very firmly and very completely to be quiet and respectful in church. When Edith brought her out, her eyes were big as silver dollars, and she kept repeating, “Dey was hodderin’ in de church!”

The lessons she learned about being quiet in church stayed with her. Years later when her son Jay was a toddler, Donna took him to church. He became bored and, even from an early age, Jay has never been reluctant to express himself, usually loudly. He began acting up so Donna decided to remove him from the service for some specialized counseling. Part way up the aisle, Jay realized the full implication of his plight. He pleaded, loudly, “Don’t beat my butt, Mommie! Please don’t beat my butt!” Donna explained that his protests made it much worse! Another time, Jay saw a painting of Jesus in a church and wondered why Marty Robbins’ photo was there.

Tom Sawyer in Church - Norman Rockwell

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