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            WE ARE WHAT WE THINK


Our conversations are salt and peppered with our thoughts. Soon eighty-six years of age if the Lord allows me to live till August 1, 2019. I pretty much accept the fact that most will forgive me if we do not remember saying whatever accused of saying.
However, at this age, we still have to keep our thoughts corralled and never let them out of the fence. When things seem to be going contrary, making us feel down, and if dwelled on we will be down. Always try to look on the lighted side of everything, even mishaps or accidents.
Thank God in all things, good and bad. Sometimes we may be working too hard, and it is detrimental to our health. We may have stopped by something we think is not proper. However, God has it planned out ahead of time knowing about it before it happens. It usually is for our good, in the long run, but seems devastating at the time.
Positive talking and positive thinking add sweetness to our lives. Like the song “A little bit of sugar, makes the medicine go down.” On the other hand, negative talking and thinking have a very sour approach to feelings and attitude. Friends had rather talk when we are feeling good and are in a jovial mood and tend to stay from us when we complain and gripe about everything and can not "see any way out of this particular the light at the end of the tunnel."
We tend to enjoy life much better when we approach problems with the attitude of looking for the best way to solve it or make it better. Some when a problem arises go into panic mode, thereby giving up on a problem rather than attempting a change or correction.
Many have faced life, and it’s problems with both approaches. At different times and those with a positive attitude seem to come out much better for the wear and tear.
Lives are more palatable when faced with Heavenly help from the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All things are possible when we align ourselves with the Holy Trinity. A great way to do this is following the Biblical example for Salvation. Believe in Jesus, the Son of God. He hung on a cross, crucified, died, was buried, and left his burial chambers on the third day. Believe in Him, ask for forgiveness, and repent. Giving us the assurance that He will never leave or forsake us.

Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett,
Friday, July 26, 2019.




SMARTY PANTS AFTER ACCIDENT



Most of you know, Smarty Pants, is the man with whom I share my house. His real name is Preston T. Duckett, and he is somewhat fun to be around when nothing is wrong. If someone in your family has an accident, my advice is to let them stay in the hospital or rehab or somewhere but don’t let them come home.
Mr. Smarty Pants, was all black and blue, with bandages all over that I had to get off of him after they put him in the bed and told me to take care of him. first thing I give him some Ibuprofen and a sleeping pill. Had to let him be asleep when I ripped the bandages off him. He still moaned and groaned all the time I was doing it. The next thing was to bath him. The only bath clothes I could reach were in the laundry basket. And the only water I could find was in the bathroom. I could not turn any faucets on so I dipped them in the commode and bathed him as best as I could.
Preston kept complaining of being hot, so I found another bath cloth and dipped it in the commode and laid it across his forehead. Had to repeat this for two weeks before he was able to take a shower.
The routine soon became so I could get Smarty Pants up by eleven o’clock or so, and he would use his walker to get to the power chair and go outside and talk to himself for a few minutes, transfer back to the walker and shower until all the hot water was gone. He then slipped on some walking shorts and a slipover shirt. Then he seated himself in front of the computer and fall asleep for another hour or so.
Smarty Pants is afraid of bad weather, and when the thunder comes, and lightning threatens, he picks me up in his lap so I can give him protection. It never fails that during any thunderstorm he starts rounding me up to sit in his lap to calm his nerves.
On one of the few breaks I have had for the last month, I was able to slip out for a quick visit with Ms. Foxy Fox. She invited me to share her den for a few days, but just as we were getting cozy, Smarty Pants was yelling for help. His power chair stuck in a mud hole, and I had to pull him out am placing an ad for a large helper like maybe a Labrador or a St. Barnard.



Author Royal Barron, Esquire, Pomeranian Extraordinaire.
Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett,
Thursday, July 25, 2019.




AFTER-HOURS



Several years ago while returning from a client Dinner meeting, passing my Office, I noticed a light on that was unusual as I was the last person to leave that evening and I knew all had been turned off. I made a u-turn killing my lights as I was pulling into the drive. There was a car in the spot reserved for the Boss. Sensing something amiss I switched off the ignition and coasted into a parking place next to his.
For the life of me, I could not figure out why he was here this time of night. Upon entering the front door, very quietly turning the deadbolt, proceeded toward the sound of a piano. There was a very thick atmosphere of dread while carefully checking out the room walking toward the noise of a sad tune coming from the Piano. The music was beautiful but creepy at the same time, along with the line of a funeral march.
I stood in the doorway, placing every memory of the room in my mind's eye, trying to think of a way of not startling the man at the Piano. There was enough light for me to recognize one of the new people in the office. As he finished that song and before he could start another, I said that was fantastic calling his name.
He paused and looking over the Piano invited me in. As I pulled a chair in position, I noticed a fifth of Jack Daniels sitting on the left end of the bench with a drink on the left side of the keyboard beside a small bottle of medication. Letting my eyes, drift to the other end of the keyboard, a small snub-nose revolver came into view, making me very glad that he recognized me when I called his name.
The chill that was in the room slowly began to disappear, and his rigid back structure began to ease a little. We made small talk about nothing in particular, he asked about the dinner meeting and if I closed out the contract. I told him not entirely, but we had a meeting in his office tomorrow at ten o'clock to work out the details.
We then talked about his children and dogs, or it could have been that we talked about his dogs and then about the children. While we were talking, he played softly on the Piano as if he was coming to some decision. Also, as if he had made that decision, he stopped the song he was playing and hit a few "chop-stick" notes and stood as if to leave.
I urged him to go ahead, and I would close the office behind him. He sipped the last of the Daniels and swiftly began clearing the Piano of the medication and the revolver, placing them in his briefcase.
Until this day, I have the uneasy feeling that I was there that night, not by chance but for the particular reason of stopping a suicide. We never again mentioned it to each other, and this is the first time I have talked about it.



Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett, Psalm 19:14
Saturday, July 1, 2017.



THE TWO UNCLES NAMED ALEX



The younger one was only a few years older than I was. The older one was a few years older than his brother, my Grandpa. Memory reminds me of the pranks both of them would pull on you at the drop of a hat. Grandpa’s son was my Mothers brother and Grandpas brother was my Great Uncle so that made him sound as if he were more important because of the Great, which he would rub in to uncle Alex from time to time.
Great uncle Alex was always upbeat and positive about everything that happened. In spite of the fact he was wheelchair-bound and had been for some thirty or forty years. The best I can remember he was in a coal mine accident which paralyzed him from the waist down. He would keep us kids intrigued by some of the stunts he would pull. The one that seemed most awesome to me was the fact he could touch the end of his nose with the tip of his tongue.
The tongue to the nose trick was attempted by all of the youngsters including his namesake, uncle Alex. Of course none of us were able to accomplish it. It stayed a mystery until I turned and saw him removing his upper teeth which he would slip into an outside pocket. I let him think he had all of us going but soon the others caught on as well.
His hands were gnarled and twisted which was from the accident we assumed but found out latter that he had a very severe case of arthritis,
With all the good breakfast food that Grandma always put on the table, Great Uncle touched very little of it but had a bowl of raisin bran cereal which I thought was cool at that time because none of us could have any because it was too expensive.
Great uncle Alex, presumably had no children as the accident had happened to him while he was a single young man. Each year he would pay a visit to his brother and sisters from two weeks to a couple of months. He shifted from one family member to the other. Never heard a complaint from him on the subject and never heard of any of his family that wasn’t willing to take him into their homes.



Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett.
Saturday, August 10, 2019.





TALKING ROCK SCHOOL IN  THE 30s & 40s



I attempted to sign up for the first grade in Whitfield County Georgia, and when they heard about my first year completed they told my parents there was no reason for me to go into the first grade because I had completed the first year on Jones Mountain.
Upon completion of the Second grade as was my custom, helped Grandpa thru the summer and stayed on to finish School in Talking Rock. My next year was in the third grade, and my Instructor was Miss. Brown. Who at that time, had to be the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
I had my first crush on a Teacher (but not my last). The females I knew worked in the fields, or as homemakers dressing for that type of work. Miss Brown wore skirts and jackets that matched. Beautiful scarves, blouses, and high heel shoes. This stylish dress was something new for me, but I always did adapt and learned relatively fast for a country boy.
In memory, I can visualize that classroom and remember the sights and smells of the cloakroom. I also noticed girls were beginning to look better, and I guess for that reason, from this time forward, things started looking up. The rest of my time at school was pretty much uneventful except for the usual things that happened at a small country school.
Because of your age, some of you may not remember this. Students are getting free tablets in a lot of schools these days. We were ahead of the game; we had free tablets, pencils, rulers and a few of us had pencil sharpeners, and the lucky ones had Blue Horse notebook binders. They were flexible and could be rolled to fit in a hip pocket. (Of course, they recommended you buy Blue Horse notebook paper.
The free tablets and other items I mentioned above suggested you buy Coca-Cola. However, it was hard to think good thoughts about Coca-Cola when the Teacher had your hand bent back and was busy whipping it with a Coca-Cola ruler.)
I didn’t get too many hand spankings because I wasn’t into pain, so I weaseled my way into being the Teachers Pet. Yeah, I was wimpy like that. Found out early in my School career that girls had sympathy for boys that got injured playing sports. Got hit in the eye while playing baseball and wore that bandage on my eye for two weeks after it had healed.



Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett, August 5, 2015.



ORPHANAGE OFF TROY CAMPUS



As a freshman in college, the young people from our Church had a visitation program to visit with the orphans at a local orphanage. There was one young boy that seemed to search me out each time we visited. The youngster was very polite and somewhat shy and restrained for the first few visits but came out of his shell after that and we seemed to bond more and more at each visit.
The heartbreak for him and me came when he asked me to adopt him and carry him home with me. I tried to explain to him this would be impossible because I was not married and too young to be accepted by the State or the Orphanage. However, we would still get together whenever possible. We will call him Billy, not his real name. Billy would be excited when I visited with him but would always cry when I had to go back to the dorm. The abundance of seeing me and pitfall when we parted was very devastating on both of us. The last time I went to visit with Billy was gone, adopted by a beautiful family,
Shamefully I never revisited the Orphanage after Billy’s departure. I know it was not fair to the other orphans that needed some outside influence. However, I was too much a coward to go thru the same type of heartbreak again. My only excuse is that I was a mere child myself. At the time of this occurrence, my ripe old age was sixteen.
By the grace of God, I had skipped two grades in school, the first year and the eleventh grade. None of these grade skips was for brilliance, but only by fortunate conditions. My earliest year in School was because the one-room School in the mountains had to have one more student to be able to stay open that year.
As there was no other availability, I was chosen even though being underage. The Teacher drove me to school every morning and brought me home every afternoon in her horse-drawn buggy. The reason for skipping the eleventh grade was the fact that Georgia only had eleven grades at that time and to keep me from going to live with my Grandparents and finish High School the Principal agreed for me to move on to the twelfth grade.
I have never been brilliant, but by the grace of God, I have always seemed to have good fortune. And now many years later, at the age of eighty-six, I can announce that good fortune is still mine by the Grace of Jesus Christ, my Lord, and Savior.


Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett, August 26, 2016.



DALTON GEORGIA AROUND 1930s-40s Transition from Talking Rock.


Occurrences from around 1937 to 1948 mostly in Dalton, Georgia. I did attend the second grade in a County School in Whitfield County just outside Dalton, close enough to say I was from Dalton when anyone asks. After finishing the second grade, I went back to Talking Rock to help Grandma and Grandpa on the farm. It was WW II, two of my younger Uncles answered the draft call into the military, and that left Grandpa short on the farm. That left the duties on Grandpa and two of my younger Aunts, and Grandma; therefore, I was drafted to help. We did not fill the shoes of the two Uncles, but we did walk in their footsteps behind Old Red and Old Blue, Grandpa’s two mules. I have told you about them before. Zoom ahead now the war is over, and soon the Uncles will be able to help, and my brother and I go to Dalton where he started the second grade, and I advanced to Dalton High. Mom and Dad had moved from out in the County and bought a house at 1116 Dozier Street. It was an earlier version of a sub-division without gated communities except where a few people did keep a cow and sometimes horses and goats. It was at that time a graveled red clay road. I remember it well because of bicycle spills at top speed down a hill and trying to maneuver a turn into another graveled road where Dozier Street dead-ended, and I still carry the scars some seventy-one years later. We had milkmen and icemen delivering to the house. The Iceman had what I considered a heavy-duty one or two-ton truck that had a bed full of Ice that was one large piece with freeze marks for each twenty-five pounds. An ice pick was used to chip along these freeze lines for the amount chosen. These blocks handled with a pair of ice tongs digging into the side of the Ice, and designed in such a way Ice could be carried by one hand using only one handle of the tong. The Iceman would bring it into the house and put it in the icebox. The Ice Company had furnished us with a four-color plaque, and it had a different color in a triangle design for the various amounts of Ice. Twenty-five, fifty, seventy-five, and one hundred pounds. The plaque to order Ice hung on the front porch with the number you wanted in the top position so the Ice Man could see it from the road and would not have to make two trips to the house. As I recall our Ice Box would not hold over fifty pounds, but I think we usually got twenty-five pounds thru the week but fifty on the weekend. There were street vendors that came by on bicycles that had a sizeable insulated box in place of a basket in front of a three-wheel bike. One sold Ice Cream and had dry Ice in his box that would smoke when he opened it. The other one sold what you would call an icy today we called them snow cones because it was beautiful shaved Ice with the consistency of snow. It was shaved Ice, using a metal shaving head that fits on a cone-shaped paper cup, which he would turn upside down and slide back and forth over a fifty-pound block of Ice until the bowl was full of finely shaved Ice. Then he would pour whatever flavor you wanted over the Ice turning it that color, and it tasted so good on those hot Georgia summer days. There was a bare bulb street light just below our house, and all the neighborhood kids would gang up under it and play different games until we got summoned home by a loud voice from one or more of our parents. It only took one summons, and all of us would drift toward home, yelling over our shoulder, goodnight and see you tomorrow. {To Be Continued}



Published and Copyrighted by Preston T, Duckett, May 7, 2016.




LIFE ON JONES MOUNTAIN --- THE EARLY YEARS.

The death of Old Jack was my first great traumatic experience. Losing a pet may seem a trivial matter to many folks, but to a young child, it can look like the end of everything.
The incident happened back around 1936 or 1937. Jack was either a Sheppard or Police dog or a mixture of some sort, at any rate, he was a big type dog and an excellent companion for a little boy with no brothers or sisters. Jack had gone off with Dad and an Uncle down the mountain, and somewhere in the process, Jack was injured either by being hit by a car or attacked by some wild animal. Never did know for sure just what, but he was damaged so severely that Dad had to “put him out of his misery.”
I forgave my Father, but only after a long while, for what I saw as an unnecessary death. The damage to Jack was so severe he was unable to recover on his own; there were no services in that area, at that time, for taking care of pets, and no money to do so even if a veterinarian were available.
Dad decided to do what was best for Jack and me even if I didn’t think so at that time. Dad tried to explain to me the reason for his actions, and I believe he was distressed as much or more than I was. Dad was sad, unable to console his little boy, who did not even want to be around him, at this point. I now understand the problem Dad had in making the decision he was facing with my dog. He knew what was best, but I could not see past the hurt, unable to comprehend.
This same scenario has been faced in our adult lives many times. With the loss of something or someone dear to us, we have blamed our Heavenly Father and sometimes cried out in anger against Him. Else withdrawn into ourselves and closed God out of our lives, because we could not see what He saw in the future. Had we been able to know what God knew we may have felt differently.


Published  and Copyrighted by Preston   T. Duckett, 

  January  21, 2016.






Swimming in Talking Rock Creek in the ’30s and ’40s


It seems the water was always cold even in the “Dog Days” of summer, but you could survive it if the outside air were warm enough. It was deep enough in the woods and far enough from the road that we did not bother with bathing suits or swim trunks because it was always just us guys no girls allowed.
We had a rope on a limb we would use to swing out to about the middle of the creek turn loose and drop in. The center part was deep enough to accommodate a dive or cannonball or just a “foot first drop.” Had to be careful because you had to swing far enough out, but not too far, or you could get hurt because it wasn’t very deep around either edge.
There were a lot of huge rocks that were under the water, and you had to make sure you had cleared them before turning loose of the rope. And the same problem existed if one went too far before you turned loose.
We smaller boys, usually stayed in the water until our lips turned blue and then we would get onto the bank. Find a big rock the sun had warmed and soak up the sunshine, dry out, and get warm before jumping back into the cold water. Now you ladies are going to have to ask your husbands about the next statement because I can not express it in words without going across a line that drawn in my head, and mind that I dare not cross. The bigger boys would strip down, but they would not get in the water. At the time, I thought they did not know how to swim, but later I found out the real reasons. We called them “Bank Walkers” they would make fun of us younger boys and strut up and down the bank showing off their suntans, muscles, and physical posture. So we would jump back into the water to get away from their jeers.
I won’t mention the names of the older boys because some of their family might resent my intentions, besides later, as we grew up to be the big boys, we would repeat the ritual. You think we would have known better, but after all, it had helped us to mature and not take any ribbing too seriously, and I guess we owed it to the younger generation to let them experience things that would assist them to survive in the big world they were to face in the very near future. I guess you could say we were just good citizens, doing our civic duty giving back to our community and delighted to be able to accomplish it.
I never heard of a Bank Walker drowning, but I did hear that some of them did get mugged by a bunch of young kids.


Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett,
October 16, 2015.





1116 DOZIER STREET 1030s-1940s


Robert Loveman was a poet, from Dalton, Georgia and the Public Library was named after him. I was interested in whom and what he was; I started reading some of his poems. My favorite was, “It is not raining rain to me it’s raining Roses down.” Reading Robert Loveman is what first spurred my interest in dabbling in verse writing. Other poets also interested me, and this seemed to be a good way to get thoughts down on paper and relieve tension at the same time. I still think that way. At Dalton High School, I encountered the first cafeteria; none of the Schools I went to in Talking Rock, Georgia had lunchrooms. Found many different foods, some good some bad, but one food I encountered still is good to me even today. A lot of cheese and macaroni is better than some other cheese and macaroni, but I find it all is good. As best as I can remember, it was .15 cents per day to eat in the lunchroom. Some days we would walk downtown, and a Café there featured fresh French fries, and you got a big platter, toast, and drink for 15 cents. Another small hamburger stand served burgers. They were on a little square bun, and looked, and tasted like Crystal Burgers. They were a nickel each and I never could be filled up eating them. I still eat too many of them when I stop by the drive in window. (It was a walk in window in Dalton.) This old country boy from Talking Rock was thrown into the Big City life. At that time, Dalton was a small town, but compared to where I came from it was a Big City. Learned to walk a lot in going to School, and yes I know you are going to ask, it was five miles, uphill both ways. It was both up and down but on the opposite side of Dalton from where we lived, but I know it five miles and seemed more.


Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett,
May 10, 2016.









BORN IN A LOG CABIN IN 1933


From the memory of 86 years old brain comes the story of my life. I was born during the great depression, around 10:00 AM, August 1, 1933, and maybe that is why it is sometimes hard for me to get up and greet the Sun. I do not remember the beginning, but a reliable source, my Mother, informed me of the event. The birth happened in Pickens County Georgia, in the Talking Rock area.
A rather small cabin where one room acted as a living, bedroom, and kitchen. Hard packed dirt was the floor of this one room. The exterior was made entirely of logs except for a shingle roof. It did have running water; well, you had to run out to the spring to get it.
I was told by my parents most of what I know about the cabin. When I was old enough, I asked Dad to carry me back to see where I was born. He informed me it had burned, and that is why we were now living on Jones Mountain. I always wondered if it burned because I was born there or if it was just an accident. My parents informed me that when I was very young, Mother accidentally dropped me on my head from a buggy. Now, this was not a baby buggy but a full-sized mule-drawn vehicle. Don’t know if this explains my warped thinking or not, but Dad said it was a good thing I landed on my hard head rather than an arm or leg. A recent MRI did discover growth in the back of my brain. The Doctors reported that it appeared ancient and could explain why my balance was never excellent, and the reason for my inability in sports.
We had been on Jones Mountain for a few years and some of the relatives would come for a visit the kids usually wanted to see the overshot water wheel located on the creek behind our house.
The water wheel powered the stones that were used to grind cornmeal. During the summer we would close the channel that carried the water over the wheel and detoured it to one side making a small waterfall under which we played. We also used this as a shower for bathing as well.
When we got tired of playing in the water, usually after our skin became swiveled and we all had blue lips. We would all run over to the Sawmill, which was close to the Waterwheel, and bask in the sun until somebody started throwing sawdust at someone and a free-for-all would break out.


Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett, July 28, 2017.



FARM BOY EARLY 1930'S AND THE 1940'S


Cane Syrup Making Grandpa Cain Style


As a youngster, I used to help (mostly watched) Grandpa make Syrup. Now, this is not the sugar cane syrup that most of you in Alabama, Florida and other states where sugar cane grows. Some of you folks further North, especially in North Georgia, will know it at sorghum cane syrup. They look similar but is only about one-quarter to one-half as big around. Instead of peeling it down to chew the cane as in sugar cane, to get the juice out of the rod you would put the stalk in your mouth, twist it and suck on it at the same time to get the liquid fluid. You had to be careful, or when you spun it, your tongue would get in the way and get cut by the sharp edges of the cane stalk. There a lot of bleeding tongues in that part of the country during the cane season.
Now back to the subject with which we started. Grandpa had the reputation of being one of the best syrup makers in that part of the country. People came from all around to bring their cane, or the ones that were not farmers would come to buy Syrup from him. We put most of it up either in gallon buckets or gallon jugs, never any little bottles or jars. When we sopped Syrup in that part of the country, we would not stop with a small amount of the butter. We mixed up a batch because it along with the eggs and am would have to keep us supplied for hard work until lunchtime.
We would start early grinding the cane by hitching a mule to the cane mill, and as she walked around and around, it would turn the rollers that mashed the juice out of the cane. Transferring this cane juice into a large copper bottom cooker that was about 3 or 4 feet wide and 6 or 8 feet long and around 10 to 12 inches deep, as the juice went from one compartment into another it would slowly cook and become sorghum. There was always a fire going on under the copper bottom cooker. We would all think it was time to drain the Syrup, but Grandpa would say not yet, and when it reached the color and thickness he desired, then he would let it be drained off.
There was always a white foam substance that had to be skimmed off the top of the cooking cane juice and discarded which we threw on top of the cane stalks that had been through the mill rollers.
Grandpa's cane mill was next to the cow pasture and thru the years erosion caused by a Branch that ran through the field. The source of the Branch was an underground spring on the hillside above. As it ran down past the cane mill, this constant flow of water plus the flooding from heavy rains over many years had washed a deep gulley the entire length of the pasture.
This eroded area is where we would carry the processed cane stalks with all the juice mashed out of them. On top of the discarded stems, we would throw the cane skimming that came off the cooking syrup that I mentioned earlier.
Over a period this began to ferment and smelled of the same. The cows were eating the skimming and cane stalks, and we noticed the animals walking peculiarly and staggering. The cows were drunk from eating the fermented cane stalks and skimming. We eventually got them led into the barn and their stalls. Have you ever tried to milk a drunken cow? I could not tell if she wanted to slap me off the stool with her tail, (that was full of burrows which hurt when it hit you in the face,) or lick me to death as she would turn around try to slap my face with that long sandpaper tongue.
My aunt had trained one of the cats to sit in the doorway, and my aunt would squeeze a teat and squirt milk toward her, and she would open her mouth and gobble it down. Today the cat sat there for about five minutes drinking this fermented dairy from this drunken cow then fell off the door jamb and lay there drunk and asleep until the next morning.
We milked about two gallons of milk that evening. This amount would last a couple of days before Grandma put it in a churn to make butter and buttermilk. We all raided the kitchen more often than usual until the milk was gone. However, we all felt no pain for a couple of days.
After moving to South Alabama, we would go back each year and get a gallon or two of Grandpa's Sorghum Syrup, and I have never found any other syrup that had that taste and thickness since Grandpa went to his reward, to that large cane mill in the sky.


Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett,
August 28, 2015,









Playtime at Talking RockSchool when Closed in 1930s & 1948s


When School was closed, especially on weekends, we used the school playgrounds because we could play on the baseball field. That was when we could get enough people together, but most of the time it was just two or three of us, and we would use the outdoor basketball court for a little one on one or to dribble and shoot.
The hillside at the School was rather steep, and I had mentioned the wooded area of Georgia Pines where we collected fallen limbs for the School's pot belly heater. Well, we found another good use for the pine needles that were very abundant all over the hillside.
We had put together several types of devices to work in the place of a sled, and the pine needles were thick enough and slick enough to accommodate us on a trip to the bottom if we could guide it and not wrap around a tree.
Some had homemade wood runner sleds, and others had a flat wood board that was sanded smooth for sliding; Some had Coca Cola signs; some had RC Cola metal signs. Now the metal back then was excellent and thick not like the flimsy metal of today. I found an old Dr. Pepper sign behind the little store, and they said they were not going to use it again, so mine was about 12 inches wide and 30 inches long. I borrowed Grandpas tools and rolled one end up about 4 or 5 inches just enough for it not to dig in the ground as we came down the hillside.
My friend Gene Landers lived at the bottom of the hill, and we would wind up in his back yard close to the barn. It was a lot of fun coming down, but the climb back up was slick and slippery, so we usually went up the driveway to the School and then on up the hillside past the girl's outhouse because it was not near as slick that way.
One year we had snow and decided to try it with snow on the ground. It was a lot faster and slicker than just the pine needles so on the first run about halfway down the hill I clipped a tree and spun out. Gene Landers made it to the bottom, so we went back up for one more ride and this time Gene didn't make it to the base he glanced off one pine tree and hit another one in the center. I was looking at Gene's problem, and misguided my Dr, Pepper sled and hit a pine tree "dead center" and saw stars at 10 - 2- & 4.
I lay there for a while in the snow, and then Gene came over to help me up. Gene said to get back on your horse and let's try again. My Dr. Pepper sign was bent so severely that It would not sit level, so I decided it was time to leave this rodeo and let it be my last run at snow sliding.
Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett. April 30, 2015.

Jones Mountain Country living around 1937
First-year at a one-room School House and
Later at Talking Rock Grammar School


1937 the depression was in full bloom. Money was almost nonexistent. I was an only child; my baby brother was not due to appear for a couple of more years. We lived in a little shotgun type house up on Jones Mountain in North Georgia, around the Talking Rock community.
Dad was making fifty cents a day snaking logs off the Mountain with a pair of oxen. The sawmill was located behind our house and was owned and operated by one of Mom’s Uncles. As weird as it sounds, Dad was able to purchase even with that small amount, what he had to from the little store near us. Somehow he managed to bring me a nickel’s worth of candy, which believe it or not was a large brown bag full and I would savor it and make it last for the whole week.
Needless to say that I had very few toys to play with, but I did have time on my side and had the chance to play outside a great deal. Part of that game time was in working for an engineering degree of building roads in the high banks alongside the unpaved clay road. I dug those roads into the side of the bank with a little pocket knife that someone had given me and a sizeable rusty tablespoon that I had found.
With these two tools and developing skill of digging, allowed me to build a long and complicated roadway that had a vague resemblance to the roads that were dug in the mountainside as they would wrap around the hill country of that area. a
I then drove a half-pint whiskey bottle, that I had found somewhere, over my newly built roadways, and at the last time I serviced it, the odometer was close to a million miles. These were miles I had driven on my knees over the road I had dug in the bank. Every time the road grader came down our way, they would wipe out about seventy-five to eighty percent of my roadway so I would have to get my tools back out and reroute the roads and dig my way back to the nearest settlement.
I must have had a broad imagination even as a four-year-old. Then I had to take time off from my work to attend School. This School was one room that housed all grades. It was about two miles from the house, and the Teacher would come by our home and pick me up every morning driving her horse and buggy. The Teacher called it pre-primer before they had any kindergarten. They had to have a certain number of students or close the School; they made an exception to my age, so they would have enough to keep the School open.
The Teacher was kind to pick me up, but she lived further up the Mountain than we did so she had to pass our house every day, to be sweet and to keep her job, she drove me to school.
Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett, June l7, 2017.


FIRST LOVE IN JASPER (IN THE 30s & 40s  TALKING ROCK


My youngest Aunt, Dorothy Cain Green, was in High School in Jasper. At that time, I was in grammar school in Talking Rock. Dorothy surprised me with a Train trip, to Jasper to attend Saturday, Cowboy pictures, newsreels, continued pictures, (cliff hangers), a bag of popcorn and Coca-Cola.
In the times of today, I know the above does not sound very exciting, but for a Farm Boy in the thirty’s, and forties this was some pretty neat doings. However, the topping of the day was after the movies had finished Dorothy (she hated for me to call her aunt.) took me by the hand and said come on I want to show you something.
I do not remember exactly how far we walked, but we entered a building that was full of tables. These tables had matching tablecloths, all checkered and neat, and there were only one of two people sitting at any of then, Dorothy pointed to an empty one and told me to sit down. I did as she asked me to do, and she moved in beside me.
A lady came over to us and asked if we would like to see a menu? Dorothy told her no, we would have grilled cheese and glass of milk each.
Now here is where the Love part started. When the sandwich, which smelled of the best of all aromas, tasted even better, it was so delicious that I wanted to savor the taste and smell of that room forever.
Being my first trip to a Café and starting a lifelong love affair with grilled cheese, toasted cheese, and cheese in general.
There have been many times of ordering cheese sandwiches but never have found any as tempting and delicious as that first one. However, now at eighty-six years of age, I still enjoy a tasty lunch with cheese.
Several first’s for this old boy, my first time for a ride on a train, first time watching a movie, which was so enjoyable we watched it twice. And the first time a Lady invited me out to a Café.
Some of you old-timers might remember the name and location of that restaurant from around 1941 or thereabouts. You current residents now have one of the reasons I love your homeland, of Jasper, Talking Rock and Ellijay and that entire area of North Georgia.


Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett,
Tuesday, July 30, 2019.


ACCIDENT CAUSES A DELAY IN THE TRIP


Doubt and fear hovered over the Hospital Emergency Room as Preston wrestled with the Idea of how and what to tell Rose. They had planned a visit for well over three months, and now another unexpected delay. Life had dealt with worse scenarios for each of them. However, Jesus had carried both of them in previous disorders and would see them thru this one as well.
Preston said to his Grand-daughter, well honey, it looks like your old Grandpa, stepped into this one with both feet. Preston told her there was no need for her to stay with him; “besides, she needed to get back to work.” “She replied, I am not going anywhere, and when they release you, I will drive you home.” Preston’s Pastor came into the room, and jokingly said, “some people will do anything to get out going to Church.” They bantered back and forth as was their almost daily routine. The give and take continued as they wheeled Preston to the x-ray room, once again offering him a ride home.
The x-ray confirmed the fact there were no broken bones. Only massive burses and scrapes. One more was a brain scan, to which Preston replied: “you will not find anything there except muddy water.” Waiting again in his room for the attendant to push him to the MRI.
Preston asked his Grand-daughter to call Rose for him, which she did and handed him the phone, leaving the room to allow them some privacy. “Rose, I am alright, so don’t worry. I was in a wreck, and they are checking me out in the ER.” The phone conversation continued with Preston saying, “no Honey, I would rather you not come until we get completely over this thing.” Rose, responded that she needed to be by his side, to which he assured her he would keep her informed of his progress daily. Rose’s panic subsided at the reassurance from Preston that The Good Lord, had allowed him to walk away from two other accidents that destroyed the total automobiles, and this made number three.
Stephanie, the Grand-Daughter, posted the accident on Facebook and the phone started full blast with offers of rides and help from everyone and when Preston eventually arrived at home his Grand-Son, Bryan and Wife Heather, had loaded his freezer, along with all kinds of bread and, a significant supply of natural to cook foods as well.
When Preston arrived home he placed another call to Rose, and after many reasons why she should not come down and take care of him, Preston, persuaded her to postpone the trip to visit for a few more weeks and let the dust settle, and make a large amount of healing take place in the meantime.


Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett,
Sunday, July 7, 2019.




FARM BOY EARLY 1930'S AND THE 1940'S
Cane Syrup Making Grandpa Cain Style


As a youngster, I used to help (mostly watched) Grandpa make Syrup. Now, this is not the sugar cane syrup that most of you in Alabama, Florida and other states where sugar cane grows. Some of you folks further North, especially in North Georgia, will know it at sorghum cane syrup. They look similar but is only about one-quarter to one-half as big around. Instead of peeling it down to chew the cane as in sugar cane, to get the juice out of the rod you would put the stalk in your mouth, twist it and suck on it at the same time to get the juice. You had to be careful, or when you spun it, your tongue would get in the way and get cut by the sharp edges of the cane stalk. There was a lot of bleeding tongues in that part of the country during the cane season.
Now back to the subject with which we started. Grandpa had the reputation of being one of the best syrup makers in that part of the country. People came from all around to bring their cane, or the ones that were not farmers would come to buy syrup from him. We put most of it up either in gallon buckets or gallon jugs, never any little bottles or jars. When we sopped syrup in that part of the country, we would not stop with a small amount of the butter. We mixed up a batch because it along with the eggs and ham would have to keep us supplied for hard work until lunchtime.
We would start early grinding the cane by hitching a mule to the cane mill and as she walked around and around it would turn the rollers that mashed the juice out of the cane. Transferring this cane juice into a large copper bottom cooker that was about 3 or 4 feet wide and 6 or 8 feet long and around 10 to 12 inches deep, as the juice went from one compartment into another it would slowly cook and become sorghum. There was always a fire going on under the copper bottom cooker. We would all think it was time to drain the syrup, but Grandpa would say not yet, and when it reached the color and thickness he desired then he would let it be drained off.
There was always a white foam substance that had to be skimmed off the top of the cooking cane juice and discarded which we threw on top of the cane stalks that had been through the mill rollers.
Grandpa’s cane mill was next to the cow pasture and thru the years erosion caused by a Branch that ran through the field. The source of the Branch was an underground Spring on the hillside above. As it ran down past the cane mill, this constant flow of water plus the flooding from heavy rains over many years had washed a deep gulley the entire length of the pasture.
This eroded area is where we would carry the processed cane stalks with all the juice mashed out of them. On top of the discarded stems, we would throw the cane skimming that came off the cooking syrup that I mentioned earlier.
Over a period this began to ferment and smelled of the same. The cows were eating the skimming and cane stalks, and we noticed the animals walking peculiarly and staggering. The cows were drunk from eating the fermented cane stalks and skimming. We eventually got them led into the barn and their stalls. Have you ever tried to milk a drunken cow? I could not tell if she wanted to slap me off the stool with her tail, (that was full of burrows which hurt when it hit you in the face,) or lick me to death as she would turn around try to slap my face with that long sandpaper tongue.
My aunt had trained one of the cats to sit in the doorway, and my aunt would squeeze a teat and squirt milk toward her, and she would open her mouth and gobble it down. Today the cat sat there for about five minutes drinking this fermented dairy from this drunken cow then fell off the door jamb and lay there drunk and asleep until the next morning.
We milked about two gallons of milk that evening. This amount would last a couple of days before Grandma put it in a churn to make butter and buttermilk. We all raided the kitchen more often than usual until the milk was gone. However, we all felt no pain for a couple of days.
After moving to South Alabama, we would go back each year and get a gallon or two of Grandpa’s Sorghum Syrup, and I have never found any other syrup that had that taste and thickness since Grandpa went to his reward, to that large cane mill in the sky.


Preston T. Duckett August 28, 2015 prestontnt.com











MISTAKES NEVER FORGOTTEN OR REPEATED
A young farm boy in the 1930’s and the 1940’s


While on the farm with Grandparents in Talking Rock, Georgia it was part of our chores to furnish “stove wood” for Grandma’s cookstove. We were cutting down pine trees and “snaking” them to the woodpile for stove wood. (We used some in the fireplace, but we mostly tried to use hardwood there.) Two of my uncles were using the two men crosscut saw to cut them down and then double-bladed axes to trim the limbs. (Grandpa insisted on double-bladed axes. He called the other one's pole axes and did not like to use them, even splitting the wood.) Grandpa was ambidextrous and when he cut a tree down he used the ax and never moved around to the other side of the tree while cutting on it, like my uncles, and I had to do he would just switch hands stand in the same spot and keep chopping. My job was to take one of the mules and a chain wrapped around the butt (or big end of the log) and drags it down to the woodpile. Today I was using skinny Old Blue, (she was more gray than blue and had a dull coat.) The mule had to pull the tree down an embankment and then across the highway. Old Blue was doing fine until the butt of the log hit the edge of the pavement, which stopped the logs momentum as well as that of old blue, she fell to the pavement with her left legs going north and the right ones going south. She finally got her footing and tried again following the same pattern of failure. While praying to God to get her up and try again. I thought the world would end right then because Grandpa did not want any missed treatment of his mules. Old Blue scrambled to her legs and tried again, and fell again. I was about to try it again when I heard this billowing, yelling and even if being able to understand it is doubtful if it could be repeated. Grandpa grabbed the halter ropes from my hand. As Old Blue got up, this time, he made her come around to the right. Pulling the log to the right and down the side of the road until it smoothed almost level with the pavement. He slowly turned her to the East until she was able to angle across the highway. Without a great effort, Old Blue pulled the log across the road. After a lengthy and heated lecture, I was once again entrusted with the reins for Old Blue and thanked God, the rest of the way to the woodpile was a dirt road.

Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett,
May 17, 2016, PrestonTNT.com




LIFE AS REMEMBERED IN THE LIFE OF A
North Georgia farm boy in the late 1930’s early 1940’s

Back in those days money was in short supply, and you made do with what you had, and many of the tools used were what things farmers made. This Harrow was “homemade, ”It was approximately 8 feet wide and 4 feet long, with spikes driven thru a wood frame, with the sharp tips turned down into the earth, to level the soil that had been turned by a two mule-turning plow. The ground was turned, harrowed, and then planted. I was not large enough to use the turning plow or the guano distributor. I could, however, operate the planter because it had a full wheel in the back that helped balance it and one in the front to keep it level. I could also use the Harrow because you walked beside it or because I was not all that heavy I rode on top of it most of the times. This particular day I was using the Harrow, and I started around the edges of the field and worked myself toward the middle. Well, it looked so smooth and pretty I did not want to make a full turn as I reached the middle so I turned too sharp and the harrow flipped over on its back. I panicked and turned the mules back across the flipped over Harrow with the spikes now sticking up in the air with the animals walking on the top of them. Naturally, Grandpa saw it and screamed some of his usual utterances as I cringed and shook. He checked all four of the legs and hoofs of each mule and saw no damage to them, but he did very politely explain to me that mules were not designed to walk on spikes. Then he uttered something about the whole blame field to turn around in, and you had to flip the Harrow over so the mules could walk over the top of them. I tried something about the whole blame field to turn around in, and you had to flip the Harrow over so the mules could walk over the top of them. I tried through tears to explain how it messed up the looks of the perfectly harrowed land if you screwed up the design in the middle. My wording is not an exact quote but it was a long time ago, and I cannot remember everything. Grandpa’s exact lecture for that day is one of the things I had rather forget. At least he did not beat me with the trace chain, which was one of the threats that I seemed to remember. Grandpa cooled down after a length of time, and I was allowed to finish the Harrowing with a threat of bodily harm if I ever walked his mules across an overturned Harrow. Which, by the way, I never did again.


Preston T. Duckett April 20, 2016,  


North Georgia farm boy in the late 30’s and early 40’s
DAY THREE:


On the farm in the early 1940s, it was up before daylight and work in the fields until dark, especially during planting season. We would feed the mules and cows and then while they were eating and my aunt was milking the cow, my uncle, and I would start getting the equipment ready to go.
Also, since it was only a 20-acre farm, we would hitch the mules to the plows and pull it to whichever field we were starting that day. Usually, we were in guano distributor and lay off the rows. He often used old Red because she was a little harder to handle than Old Blue, so she usually fell to me for the seed planter. My uncle was four years older than I was and somewhat bigger and stronger and besides he could lay off a straight row. Mine looked more like I should have a DUI ticket, and as I told in another piece all I had to do was keep the seed planter in the row my uncle had laid off. Old Blue knew she was supposed to stay in that row so she would lower her head and start pulling and stayed with the same pace all day. As I stated before the planter had a full wheel in the back which made it easy to hold up and by keeping the front smaller wheel in the row all I had to do was lower my head and follow Old Blue. The full wheel in the back would act to not only plant the seeds but also to semi pack the dirt that the sweeps on each side had pulled over the seeds. My biggest trouble came at the end of each row. I would have to stop the seeds from coming out and let
Blue go a few feet past the end of the row so she would have enough room to turn and get back to the next row. When first starting, I had to tilt the planter over on one side and drag the handles around but then when I got older and stronger I could raise the handles lifting the back wheel off the ground and let Old Blue pull it around on the front wheel. Reaching the end of the row, I would mimic the older folks with a boisterous Gee or Haw. Most of you folks that are from the country and are old enough to remember back before everyone had tractors will know what I m talking about, and this went into this much detail for the younger folks and City folks. Now I did learn how to smoke, cuss and swear but I never did learn to dip or chew.


Preston T. Duckett September 7, 2016 PrestonTNT.com


A FARM BOY IN THE 30’ S & The 40's


Corn pone cornbread baked in the old wood stove is very difficult to improve. However, in the wintertime, while the fireplace was going full blast. Grandma would take what she called a Dutch Oven, rake hot coals over to one side set the Dutch Oven on those coals. Having placed the cornmeal mixture for cornbread inside and the lid firmly on, then cover the whole thing with hot coals and hot ashes and let it cook. Of course, what came out was a big round cake of the best tasting Corn Bread I ever had up till that time or since. Take a glass of milk and a slice of cornbread, and I can make a meal, add some great northern beans (Grandma called them soup beans) a glass of buttermilk, onion and I will eat until I have to unbutton the top of my pants. Love them North Georgia Vittles; I had been to watch Mr. Silvers grind the corn into a meal before so I knew where to go. I hitched old Blue to a sled and put enough corn on there to make two bushels of cornmeal. Several members of the family that liked cornbread. Grandpa liked it so well that a lot of times he would use it to sop his syrup and butter instead of biscuits. I never did develop that taste, did try it a couple of occasions. Unless I have forgotten my measurements there are four pecks in a bushel, and the grist mill would get one peck, and you kept three, so I went back home with six peaks of cornmeal, and that was just the right amount. I did not want Old Blue to fall on the highway again, so I kept her off the road on the dirt surface. I mentioned to you before about making Saw Mill Gravy. Sawmill Gravy was made the same way as regular gravy except cornmeal was used instead of flour. I think the reason for the name was because the course meal simulated sawdust from a sawmill, but Grandpa said it was because if you worked at a mill, you had to make gravy with cornmeal because you couldn’t afford to buy flour. Until we moved to Alabama in 1949, I had never heard of fried cornbread and my wife, who was from Alabama, said the reason we had to bake the cornbread in Georgia was that we used grits instead of cornmeal. I found out rather quickly not to purchase the course cornmeal at the grocery in Alabama because I had to take it back to the store and exchange it for the excellent ground meal. Up until that time I thought cornmeal was cornmeal. My wife had never used milk to make gravy just water and when we moved into the apartment the day we got married she was going to surprise me and make me some gravy using milk. I know it boiled up and over the pan and over on the stove and some even ran down to the floor. To avoid further hysterics I cleaned up the mess while she sat at the table with her hands at her face and cried. She never tried using milk again, but I did learn to enjoy gravy made with water.
In addition to that the honeymoon had just started and there was no time set to let it be finished.

Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett
September 6, 2015.



MEMORIES OF A YOUNG FARM BOY in ’30s and ’40s
HOG KILLING NORTH GEORGIA 1930’s


I was quite young at this time, but I will try to remember as much as I can with as much accuracy as possible. I don’t know the exact month that hog-killing took place, but I know it had to be cold. Still, hear some of the old-timers saying “It’s cold enough to kill hogs.” Or something like “this is hog killing weather.” The animals slated to pulled off the slop feeding for a while before shooting and usually put on a dry feed diet of mostly corn, I don’t think they were ever fed Commercial Hog feed, not sure it was even available at that time at least most farmers could not afford it. Early in the animals slated for the morning, the neighbors would gather around e and someone would have the chore of shooting the pig or pig’s, depending it was usually more than one because that would be the pork supply for the rest of the year and until Hog killing time again next year. A 22 rifle was usually used to kill the hogs because they did not want to mess up any more of the meat than they had too and I don’t think anyone ever used a shotgun, but I have heard of some people that would slit the throat of the Hog and let them bleed to death. The dead pig would have a single tree, or at least I think that was the p. It sometimes said it was a single tree. It was the contraception used to hitch the mule to a plow or wagon with chains going up to the mule’s collar. The chain hooks were put thru the back leg and hooked to a muscle or tendon and dragged over to a tree that was close to a wash pot that was full of scalding water. The chain was then thrown over a big sturdy limb and again attached to a mule to pull the Hog up off the ground. (Some people used a chain hoist, but Grandpa didn’t have one.) With the Hog secured and hung in the tree. Then a bucket brigade was started from the wash pot with scalding water to pour on the hanging pig, and with big knives the would scrape all the hair off. With chore completed, a sharp butcher knife was used to cut down the underbelly area from top to bottom. This long incision was called gutting the animal. Large tubs were under the Hog to catch the intestines. Some point in time the head would be cut off and left in a big container while the butchering of the hams and other parts on a separate large table. Grandpa used the salt curing method since refrigeration was not available; it had to be sure enough cold, or it would spoil too fast. The neighbors that helped would get a portion of fresh meat for their help, and when Grandpa and my Uncles helped them kill their hogs, then the raw meat was returned to them. I do remember very well that Grandpa loved pig brains and scrambled eggs, now I like scrambled eggs but could not warm up to brains. The ladies usually took care of sausage grinding, rendering lard and making and souse meat from the hogshead, pigtails and pig feet and all that kind of good stuff. Was not wild about hog killing or the smell emitted from the scalding water poured over the animal. Good eating overrode the unpleasant aspect of the event.


Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett,
October 17, 2015.






























A FARM BOY IN THE 40’S
YOU CAN LEAD A HORSE TO WATER.


It was our duty to water and fed the animals after we left the fields each day and put them in their stalls and secure the barn doors. The way we usually went about this was to unhitch the mules, and we were supposed to lead them to the branch where the area was damned up enough to have space for the water to be deep enough to make it easy for them to drink. I would get my uncle to help boost me up on Old Red, and as Red would start, Old Blue would usually start before my uncle could get on her back. Alex was my uncle's name, and he would grab Old Blues tail and jump up on the back of her legs that were almost like knees turned backward, and he would ride to the watering hole often with his feet on the back of her legs and hold on to the tail. I don’t know how Grandpa missed this, but if he knew it, he never said anything. One of my cousins wanted to know what Grandpa looked like, and the closest one to him in looks would be like Uncle Doyle in size and Uncle Alex in looks. The hair was thick, and I do not remember seeing it any color but gray. It tried to curl in front kind of like Alex’s  hair did, and when he was lifting something substantial or thinking real hard or was looking for something to whip Alex with and me, he would squint his eyes, and he did this a lot. Being serious Grandpa never punished us a lot, but then he didn’t have too because he was so big and vigorous that just one or two loud shouts usually got the job done. Back to the watering of the mules when they were through drinking Alex would often lead Old Blue back to the barn because Grandpa was usually there waiting for us. My friend, Tommy Sabiston used to have a saying that went like this “you can lead a horse to water, but make him float on his back and then you’ve done something.” Another one was “Behind every dark cloud there is a stiff upper lip.”


Preston T. Duckett April 16, 2016 










LIFE OF A FARM BOY IN THE 30’ S & The 40's
ODDS AND ENDS FARM BOY--Grandpa and Our Shetland pony


Grandpa was a big man, not fat, but big, he could walk into a room and cover the entire doorway. He was big like Matt Dillon, and of course, to his two young grandsons, he was a Giant. He was strong, hard-working as most of the farmers were in that day. Mom and Dad had acquired a Shetland pony for Joe and me which we kept at our grandparents because we lived in town and could not keep animals of this nature there. If you have ever been around a Shetland you know, they are stubborn primarily if not worked often, and as kids, we were afraid of him when he got to acting up. We were having trouble putting his halter on in the pasture. Grandpa came out, grabbed him by the long hair on the back of his neck and pulled his head around to put on his halter. When he turned the pony loose, he spun around and kicked Grandpa in the stomach with both feet. Grandpa did not say anything but just a loud HUFF noise of air coming out of his lungs. He swirled around and hit the pony in the middle of his nose, and his knees buckled, and he went down on them. When he was able to get up, he stood there looking at Grandpa and never tried to kick him again, hereafter when Grandpa came into the pasture holding a halter the Shetland would trot up to him and hold his head out to receive the harness. For a long time after that, we had no trouble when we wanted to ride him or hitching him his cart. There is a moral there somewhere I’m not sure what it is, but we never kicked Grandpa either.


Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett, August 29, 2015 .













A FARM BOY IN THE 30' S & 40'S GRANDMA'S GARDEN

Grandma had a special fenced-in space for her garden every year, located adjacent to the barn and corral. As best I remember it was about fifty feet long and around thirty feet wide. (It seemed more significant than that when you started hoeing it and raking down and smoothing off the onion bed.) This bed ran the length of the garden with a raised bed approximately six to eight inches higher than the row crops. This bed as I remember was used to plant onions, carrots, and at one end loose-leaf lettuce, (I never did know why but I guess it was not the heading type or either Grandma liked to pick it young & tender.) She only had one kind of dressing for the salad she made from the lettuce, and that was bacon grease, but it sure did taste good.
Grandma not only fed us thru the summer with her garden, but she also saved everything not used during the summer by canning it or drying it out and preserving it for the winter. She canned vegetables, made sauerkraut; she would hang green beans across the back porch stringing them with a needle and thread to dry and called them "leather britches," us kids would bring her all the apples we could find, including crab apples. She would set up a couple of sawhorses, put about a 10-foot piece of tin roofing across it with a clean bed sheet covering it and put the slices of apples on top of that and let the sun do the drying for her. These apples sure did make some tasty apple tarts when the cold winds of winter were blowing. I think Grandma's slogan was: "waste not, want not." A tiny amount was lost during those days, even though we did not have refrigerators or freezers. Grandpa would do the meat for the winter in his smokehouse. He used mostly salt curing, but it sure did taste good the next winter. Grandma and we young ones would gather the potatoes, and Grandpa would dig out an area about eight or ten feet wide and about twenty feet long put down some pine straw, and croaker sacks put sweet potatoes on one end and the Irish potatoes in the other end. Cover them all with croaker sacks and pine straw and then with dirt on top of that and most of them would be good all winter. I'm getting hungry sitting here thinking of one of our many breakfast treats of Grandpa's bacon or ham with red-eye gravy. Fresh butter and syrup or Milk gravy made with flour or Sawmill gravy made with cornmeal; all sopped up with some of Grandma's homemade biscuits and a couple of glasses of good fresh milk with the cream still on it. I just shot my diet for today, and I guess I just gained five pounds just thinking about it. I know it is said "you can't go home again," but I just did.


Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett, April 23, 2016.
A FARM BOY IN THE 30' S & The 40's


FIRST TRIP TO COTTON GIN IN TALKING ROCK


We had the wagon loaded with loose cotton, had the sideboards on and cotton was heaped up in the middle of the cart. I found out later; this would make one finished bale of cotton. The ginning process took out the cottonseed and shredded the cloth into almost thread-like cotton strips. Then pressed together with Crocker sack type material over the top and bottom and partway around on each side, and was bailed. With four metal baling straps with a unique tool for binding the ends of the bailing straps together. But on the way to the Gin my Uncle, a big boy only four years my elder, said "we both have to stay on the wagon and use the vacuum pipe to pull the cotton up to the Gin. But we have to be careful because last year three little boys, about your age were sucked up into the Gin and killed, so whatever you do don't let that vacuum pipe get in your hair because then you'll be a goner." This pipe came down out of the rafters above where we drove the wagon and when Alex (my Uncle) started moving the tube around over the cotton it began to be sucked up into the Gin upstairs. When he got about halfway down in the wagon, and he would use the vacuum pipe on each side and each end and that way I would not get too close and be sucked up into the Gin. Alex moved around me about twice with the vacuum pipe telling me to be still and not move or get in the way of the tube. He worked his way around behind me and the next thing I knew the pipe was above my head and sucking my hair up in it and scaring the daylights out of me. After I had wet my pants, Alex started laughing and stuck his head in the pipe and let it suck his hair up. Then he handed me the tube and said you get the rest of the cotton out of the wagon so he could slip out behind the Gin and smoke a cigarette. I was moving the pipe around vacuuming the cotton up to the Gin. At this point I realized it could not suck a boy up the tube, so I started to play with it by putting my hand over it and feeling the pull and over my head again and let it pull my hair up. We made many more trips to the Cotton Gin after that first time. After that first voyage, it became my job to operate the vacuum, cotton out of the wagon. Alex had a blast teasing me about getting sucked up the pipe, and I learned something about how the
vacuum works that I didn't know before. Later Mr. Silvers carried me up to where the Gin was operating, and I got to watch it work. While watching it, I thought to myself that Mr. Eli Whitney must have been one smart man.


Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett, September 5, 2015.



THE BUCK STOPS HERE OR STARTS HERE
A farm boy around 1930-1940


The first Automobile Garage I ever saw was in the late ’30s or early ’40s and even though I do not think Uncle Buck Tatum ever used either slogan in his Garage. He didn’t have a radio station or TV station to advertise in, or he might have used something like that. I do not remember if he had a Sign out front of the Garage or not or how long the shop was in business. I don’t know if I went with my Dad or one of my Uncles but whoever it was needed some particular work on an auto and Uncle Buck (I’m not sure whether he was my Uncle or Grand Uncle, but he was my Grandma’s Brother.)
I know I was very excited to see inside the Garage. Several things that were unusual about this Garage at least for this day and time but not back then. First of all the only light, they had in the building was a big door open in the front a few windows and a big door open in the back of the building. The building itself was, as best as I can remember about large enough for about three or four Cars at the same time, however, there were only two in there at that point. Both had the hood open, and Uncle Buck bending over the fender working on one of them, and I think the other one was getting the oil changed and a grease job. The second one was pulled up over an open pit, and someone was down there working on the bottom of the car. The thing unusual about this was because when Dad changed the oil in our car, he got down on the ground and slid up under the car. I recall every auto we had at that time would change the oil on its own all you had to do put a quart in ever so often and if it stopped smoking you had better pull the dip stick. But I digress, the other thing that was unusual about this Garage was there was no floor in it. It was just the natural clay floor, saturated with oil and grease. I can close my eyes now and almost see the building the floor and the pit the car was pulled up on and smell the peculiar odor of the grease and oil. Some of you may know the scent I mean mainly if you farmed with tractors that you had to grease and change oil. Was this the First Garage in Talking Rock Georgia?
Certain smells pertain to farming, and if you farmed with mules as we did you know that smell especially when you have to muck it out and broadcast it in the fields as fertilizer. That was one reason not to go to Tractors, but then for the muck haulers, they would gladly trade the mules for tractors. I don’t know how long Uncle Buck Tatum had the Garage. As I remember it was not a long time, and one reason for that most everyone then that had any type transportation did most of their work under a shade tree, and I guess that is where the term “shade tree mechanic” originated. There were very few people in those days that had automobiles, and those were mostly Model A’s and Model T’s.


Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett, September 22, 2015.



GRANDMA AND WASHDAY


Never was able to help Grandma much with wash day but I did build a fire under the wash pot and fill it with water. Grandma would get her tubs out for rinsing, and I would fill two of them with cold water. The third washtub was used to hold the scrub board, and the dirtiest clothes placed in the boiling water of the pot then transferred to the rubboard. Grandma would use what she called a battling stick. It looked something like a thick boat paddle, use it to reach into the boiling water. With the paddle, she would retrieve one of the soiled garments that had been soaking. Sling it over to the first tub in the series of three that she had filled with water just about as hot as the hand could stand. She would then grab a bar of her homemade Lye soap rub it over the garment in the tub and vigorously scrub it up and down the rub board. Which as I recall was a corrugated metal mounted in a wood frame. The corrugated metal would help push the soap into the garment and also help remove the dirt. If you didn’t keep the material you were washing between you and the rub-board, your knuckles would be bleeding, and you did not want that to happen because the Lye soap would burn harder and longer than rubbing alcohol. I would push the garments up and down in the rinse water, but Grandma would have to wring them out and hang them on the line with clothespins that were solid wood with a groove in the bottom that when pushed down on the clothes would hold them in place. In later years they came out with clothespins that had a wire spring to hold them against the clothes and keep them on the line, but Grandma’s were all the old fashioned kind that she kept in a clothes-pin bag as she called it. Many years later the first electric washing machine came to the farm but we still had to fill up the three tubs with rinse water and the rollers would be moved from container to tub to mash the water out of the clothes and no longer had to twist it out by hand. We had to keep boiling the water and tote it to the washing machine because Grandma thought the hotter the water, the cleaner the clothes, and I do not remember if Grandma ever gave up her Lye soap. But I do remember after that it was a long time before we were able to switch from Octagon soap to the 99 and 44 one-hundredths percent pure it floats, and you did not have to chase it across the bottom of the bathtub.


Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett. October 16, 2015.


THE 1930’S AND 1940’S ON NORTH GEORGIA FARM.


I enjoyed a lot of the farm life in those early years; however, chopping cotton was not one of the things I enjoyed the most. Feeling proud of myself cotton in my row by myself and getting almost in a rhythm and thinking beautiful thoughts. My brilliant ideas were interpreted by a boisterous “what in the H--- are you doing boy, you just chopped up a good cotton plant.” To refresh your mind as to what brought this significant response, Grandpa, who was a right three rows over from where I was chopping and two hundred feet ahead of me was giving me his usual soft loving reprimand, which I was beginning to get used to when I screwed up or made a mistake. “You just cut down a perfectly good cotton plant and left a scrawny one, why in the world did you do that?” I tried my best to explain that I was trying to keep the rows straight. The first plant was a good two inches out of line; therefore, I removed from the row. With a few little words that I do not care to repeat or write down, he made his point. Hoeing cotton or any other type of chopping never let me fall back into the rhythm that had started before this explosion occurred. Grandma was not in the field with my uncles and aunts today. Therefore I decided to lick my wounds and whisper a few profanities myself. I explained to you before that Grandpa was ambidextrous and was chopping two rows at a time. The thing I was never able to figure out was how in the world could he see me cut down the wrong plant with his back to me and hoeing first to the left and then to the right and two hundred feet away. The only thing I could figure was that when I messed up, there must have been some odor escaped that his sense of smell got a whiff of, because whenever I screwed up, Grandpa was on top of it and me. There was a lot of “messing up” on my part, and when I would try to explain either he did not understand what I meant, or else he knew too well. Grandpa would say, “Boy if you don’t stop that whimpering I’ll give you something to whimper about.” Knowing that he was a man of his word, I quickly learned to let my complaining go no further than my thoughts. However, the complaining did go on in that small container that held my brain. All the time these thoughts ran through my mind, I kept my back to him because I swear to God he could read my mind. I always knew that Grandpa loved me, and during the time, I was on the farm with him; I found out what “Tuff Love” really meant.


Published and Copyrighted by Preston T. Duckett, August 2, 2016.


COTTON AND CORN


Chop that cotton, shuck that corn.
Shuck at night, chop at morn.
Work on the farm sees no end.
We never break, often bend.


Birth a calf, in middle of the night,
vision furnished by lantern light.
To bedclothes on chair hang,
From the barn, came a loud bang.


Find a mule kicking wall,
ropes tie her to the front of the stall.
Back to the house smelling bacon
and food for strength making.


With breakfast finished, keep hopping,
back to shucking, and chopping.
Work on the farm never done,
ever thing happens on the run.

Preston T. Duckett 12/18/15 prestontnt.com