Ramblin’ Around: Things of the past

Published 6:26 pm Thursday, August 23, 2018

Some time ago as I was walking back to the office from visiting the Court House, Jeff Jones passed by with the hearse followed by the funeral home service truck. The wise guy driving the truck stopped, rolled down his window and hollered and inquired if I needed a ride. I guess he assumed that I was at the Court House recording my Last Will and Testament. I know that they need business over at the mortuary, but at least wait until I quit breathing. Since most of the thoughts in my journalism efforts are directed to things of the past, no wonder that they are lying in wait.

Talking about relics, not the human variety, someone sent me a video of one of my favorite songs, Stand By Me. It features performers from all over the world and what caught my attention was the performer utilizing a wash board to provide the beat. If you do not know anything about wash boards, it was all about hard work. The women that did the wash in early American families were faced with clothing stains created from serious manual labor. The dirty clothes were boiled in a big metal wash pot and then hand-rubbed over the surface of a wash board which provided the scrubbing effect needed. Afterward, the clothes were laid out on a wooden block and beat with a wooden paddle. I am not sure what the beating was about but it was hard on buttons.  I assure you unless it’s for musical purposes, you do not want anything to do with a wash board. The earlier ones, even though they were all wood, provided enough rough surface to scrub laundry.

Making MUSIC utilizing a wash board is a God given talent. I hate people who have the ability to create music doing what is natural. I watch people who can pick up any musical instrument and effortless play any melody. I guess it is because I play a few chords on my guitar and then later watch some performer like Willie Nelson run their fingers up and down the guitar neck like he was massaging the key board. It just doesn’t seem fair to us wannabees. Trivia 1: What does the wash board musician use on his fingers to make the musical sound?

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In thinking about the use of wash boards, I got to thinking about the soap that was used. A regular guy did not have the money to go down to the store to purchase a box of detergent, he made his own soap.

Trivia 2: How does a farm family make their own soap?

The other day while I was feasting with Monroe Smith at Sarajays, someone  mentioned maypops. Now there is probably no one younger than 60 knows what a maypop is. It is a fruit of a vine similar to watermelon vine that generally matures in late May or early June. It is about the size of a lemon and semi hard while it is still green and makes an excellent missile to throw at the girls who detest this sport. It did not take me long to quit throwing maypops at the girls. Instead, I became more interested in throwing kisses at them. When the maypops mature they become slushy and not something you care to have to wipe off your clothing. I am sure that there are still a lot of these vines around but I haven’t seen one in years. In checking on Wikipedia, I find that the vine has a flower called the passion flower and is highly sought as a decorative flower. Also, the source says that the fruit is edible and that the earlier Indian tribes of America sought the maypop as a food source. I have never known of anyone, ever, ever, ever, to eat a maypop.  But I was wrong! James Walter Allen tells me they serve maypops as snacks at the Tide dinning hall.

Talking the past again and also about the misuse of the English language, here is old tool that is still in use today. The cant hook is an implement utilized mostly in the logging and sawmill business. It can hook and allow the logger to move heavy logs by hand that are almost impossible to move without it. Basically, one hooks the log to a lever so that the user can roll or maneuver the logs as desired. Trivia 3: What is a peavy? What is a picaroon?

Answer Trivia 1: The wash board musician uses thimbles on his fingers just like the ones used for hand sewing.

Answer Trivia 2: In earlier years farm families made their own soap by placing oak wood ashes in a sieve and pouring water over the ashes to allow the acid content of the wood ashes to filter into a container. The strained ashes (potash) is mixed with rancid animal fat and boiled in a wash tub. The result is a soap substance that is very acidic and is guaranteed to clean most anything that you want to wash.

Answer Trivia 3: A peavy is a cant hook that has a pointed end below where hook is hinged. The picaroon is a hook attached to a long handle for pulling logs or sawn lumber.

I think I will redirect my mind to what is going on with Trumpeting and Hillalie. Meanwhile, I will just keep on collecting my Social Security until China quits financing our country.