By Linda Stewart, 1 March 2019
As spring approaches I start thinking about flower beds and gardens. Since it is just my husband and I, my definition of a garden are large pots on the patio filled with herbs, peppers, tomatoes, onions, and okra planted in the blueberry bed. Before my father moved to heaven, if you were to ask him his definition of a garden, he would say that nothing less than an acre would do.
Even though we always had a large garden, my mother never canned vegetables. She would freeze them. My Grandma Ruth Paschall did can the vegetables from her garden. As a child, I remember seeing a book case with a feed sack cloth hanging in front of it. I moved the cloth and saw jars of carrots, potatoes, squash, etc. I thought the jars looks so beautiful on the shelves. I asked mother about it and she said, “It’s your grandmother’s canning. I always wanted to learn to can. After a lot of questions and research, I am now a canner. I teach classes on this lost art. Yes, it is easier to go to the grocery store and purchase a can of beans, but every time I can, I always get a sense of satisfaction. The jars still look so beautiful on the shelves.
One of the stories submitted to the John T. and Mary Cook Paschall book, courtesy of Barbara Love Logan, speaks of her mother and great grandmother canning. Lois Mae Hines says she helped Mary Ann Frances Paschall Fletcher in the yard one day. They built a fire under the wash pot and Lois was sent to the corn crib for buckets of corn. They shelled the corn and Mary poured the hard dry kernels into the boiling water. After a bit she went to one of the mounds of ashes where there had been a washing done. She scooped up wood ashes, dumped them into the boiling corn. Lois said, “Oh, Grandma, you have ruined your corn!” As Mary stirred with the shovel she said “No, honey, this will take the husks off.” (Lye is made with water and wood ashes.) After a while she washed and washed the corn, now it was hominy. Mary canned it in glass jars. Lois said they had hominy all winter, thanks to her Grandma.
So the next time you talk with your grandparents, or aunts and uncles, ask them about their childhood. Record them as they talk. These stories are oral histories. Oral histories are just as valuable, and in my opinion more valuable, then written histories. It is the oral histories that are passed down that keep the family and their traditions alive throughout the generations.
I would recommend that you watch this wonderful video about oral histories “The Hidden History of Native Americans with Chief Riverwind and Dr. Laralyn Riverwind” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=og_YWTsOze8
Happy Hunting! LS