If You Don't Laugh, You'll Cry - Laughing's Better!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Climbing Mountains

I have a deep belief that my love of mountains was fostered and encouraged by my parents.Their outings and little trips were almost always pointed toward the mountains tho’ they loved the sea as well.

My earliest memory of actually “touching” a mountain was when I was about six years old. One day, when Dad was home so probably a Sunday, he told me to find my saddle oxfords and he’d help me put them on [He was a great believer in Saddle Shoes for my school clothes and I usually got a new pair in the fall.] He said we were going to climb a mountain! At that time, I was pretty much unaware of Stone Mountain. When we got there, before we left the car, Dad told my brothers his rules -- mostly just about staying together, I think. Mother stayed in the car and read, probably glad for the respite.

More on Stone Mountain: Stone Mountain is a quartz monzonite dome monadnock and the site of Stone Mountain Park in Stone Mountain, Georgia, United States. At its summit, the elevation is 1,686 feet (514 m) MSL and 825 feet (251 m) above the surrounding area. Stone Mountain is well-known not only for its geology, but also for the enormous bas-relief on its north face, the largest bas-relief in the world.[1] The carving depicts three figures of the Confederate States of America: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis.

The only place any of us had a small problem was what we called the “slick spot.” Last week, after checking with my grandson, I learned it is still there. The view from the top is breathtaking and there is always a breeze. Since that first time, I have climbed the mountain many times. Our church’s young people’s groups often had hay rides to the mountain along with cook outs. 

below, my grandson and a friend on top of Stone Mountain in 2008

The aerial tram was not there when I was young, nor were all the commercial businesses, nor the river boat. There was no charge to get in. One just parked the car and climbed a mountain.

below, my family in the 1940's

My other mountain climbing experience was in around the same time frame as Stone Mountain.

Kennesaw Mountain is in the National Battlefield Park, a 2,965 acre battlefield that preserves a Civil War [aka the War Between The States or Late Unpleasantness] battleground.  The elevation at the summit is 1,808 feet. From June 19 until July2, 1864, 180,000 Union and Confederates soldiers fought on that land.

Some of the Union soldiers, over 10,000, are buried in the Marietta National Cemetery. More than 3,000 Confederate soldiers are buried at the Marietta Confederate Cemetery. Not all the soldiers fought at Kennesaw. Some were brought from other battles. The two cemeteries are distant from each other. I remember once asking my mother, who was buried in that cemetery we never visited. Her one word response was Yankees! Nuff said.

Several of my great grandfathers, uncles, and cousins fought at Kennesaw. At least they were close to home, fighting for their homeland.

Although the battlefield and mountain now have extensive trails, a paved road, museum etc., the day my dad, brothers, and I climbed the mountain, it was on a dry, dusty dirt trail and seemed much more tedious than Stone Mountain.

Back then, bottled water, as we know it, was never heard of. Just about the time I was terribly thirsty, Dad or a brother, found Muscadine vines. They were loaded with big, fat juicy grapes! I can still taste their sweet juice.

Muscadines were first discovered by the early colonists, in an area from the Piedmont Plateau over to the coast. There are several varieties, one of which is Scuppernongs and jelly made from them is, along with a homemade hot biscuit, about as good as it gets. I take some comfort from the fact that the soldiers fighting in the Georgia, summer heat, had our wonderful grapes for comfort.

 above, Stone Mountain carving, and the lawn in front of it - on summer nights, now, folks take picnics and watch a laser show on the mountain

Monday, February 16, 2015

Wilma's Aprons

A friend sent me an article about aprons that brought back memories.  My family heartily approved of aprons. Mother cooked from scratch most of our lives because that was what women did ….. no such thing as fast foods, deep freezers [for home use], microwaves, electric frying pans, slow cookers etc. Cooking used up a lot of a woman’s time.

Every day outfits for women were dresses, or skirts and blouses. They either had to be washed and ironed or dry cleaned, which was expensive.  Thus aprons were important.

We had everyday aprons that covered pretty much everything -- some with bibs, some without – or there was just the skirt type which Mother favored. She was so short that bibs were in the way.  During the World War II years, when we lived on a South Carolina farm, Mother sewed feed sack aprons, some with cheery, nice prints, as she was a good seamstress. She always added a large pocket, which was helpful.

From about the time I was nine or ten, I was as tall as my mom [4’11], then much taller ‘til I got to be 5’3 or 5’4. So her aprons fit me just fine.

From time to time, my dad helped her in the kitchen, so she made aprons to suit his 6ft. 4in frame. He preferred plain white aprons with bibs. I still have one of the last ones she made him.  For years, I hung it in my kitchen so I could hug it from time to time. Seemed to bring him closer.. He mostly helped her on Sundays, after church, since he needed to protect his good clothes. We usually had a big Sunday dinner, in the middle of the day, that involved heavy lifting of roasts etc. Most of the cook pots and frying pans were heavy iron, especially the Dutch oven.

We often had guests for meals, so like most women, when it was time to eat the soiled apron was removed and replaced with a “company one” that was kind of pretty, often starched and ironed.

Thinking about this brings back a lot of memories of my mother in the kitchen.

In later years, Mother got a kick out of using convenience foods -- though never cake mixes. The first ones really were not too good. She accepted some frozen vegetables but almost never canned vegetables. She did use canned green peas sometimes and canned tomatoes.

There were no “crunchy” vegetables served in our home. She finally bought a pressure cooker and she really used it – vegetables like broccoli were extra soft. In later years, I introduced my parents to bright green, barely cooked cabbage and they loved it.

We still have a few aprons around somewhere but I don’t recall ever seeing my daughter wear one. She does most all the cooking, these days, and I’ve become quite spoiled.