The title of this article is “Old Timers Got Along (Usually).”
I saw some controversy in the “Letters to the Editor” so I launched an investigation of “The South Cheatham Advocate Newspaper” to determine how far these controversies ranged in the paper. With a little investigation, not very far! There is a good warning at the bottom of the columns with all the ragging that “the views do not necessarily express the opinion of the paper’s Editor or staff, nor have the ‘facts’ been checked.” I don’t know how you would check them anyway with service members, apparently theologians, educators, and various persons of many persuasions just absolutely sure they are correct, and that everyone else is wrong. Oh, the wonders and blessings of democracy! Social scientists would have trouble with many of the statements, since they are not “amenable” to “empirical” proof. All in all, if we can’t learn to live together and hear one another’s arguments, what good would any proof do anyway! Some of the people around, who never write, tell me that “John” is just being “John”, for those of us that know John, or “Sally” is just Sally, and we can’t expect anything different from them.
However, as I turn away from the topic of writing to the Editor, I see much of great value. For example, I see a pancake breakfast down at the South Cheatham library in K.S., a BBQ and chicken dinner up at the VFW post, and some great sorghum molasses over at the Ellington Center in the Brentwood area. Too bad, that by the time you read this, these events will all be over. But you can still plan to be at the Pegram PTO on September 29, to enjoy some more BBQ. There you can forget all the letters to the Editor, and you can bring back to life your taste buds, and maybe make a few friends. The community might be a little better if you get out, in the cooler air, and enjoy some social benefits.
I remember some 65 years ago or more, “Uncle” Clarence Greer taking his mules just below that enormous oak about 250 feet east of the “across the river side” of the bridge in Pegram and turning a large arm or lever about 40 feet in length to drive a grinder into which he placed sorghum cane. Out came the molasses, and good as ever, and your salivary glands would go just wild! The mules didn’t seem to get bored knowing apparently the great contribution they were making to the well-being of the community. Now Clarence was one of the last great pioneers to use mules in this community–I predict that they may come back some day, since they represent extremely functional and renewable use of our resources, of course, you will have to be careful where you step! My father, Allison, was a well driller in those days, but he took time away from his work to travel down Highway 70 to get some Benton County molasses, where he and his brother Thomas would request they take a bite before they bought. This is only if Clarence had not made any molasses that year. He would have no other than Benton County, where the sand produces an excellent crop of sorghum cane.
Now another old trick was to eat watermelon but you had to determine which was the best melon. Watermelons and pumpkins were grown where the Pegram Park now lies, just across from the Methodist Church, the Marshes, Johnsons, Thursa Clark, and the Greers and Browns. That’s just some of the Greers, because they were everywhere. Now don’t say anything about people with familiar family names around here, because most of them now have other last names! My mother Helen would do a round-about when she got out of school, and visit about every one of them on the way home. Now we didn’t write any letters to the Editor, because back then you could just tell people in a sort of friendly kind of way, what your opinions were. Of course there wasn’t as much “diversity” then as now, but people enjoyed life just the same. In those days, the bells from the Methodist Church would ring every Sunday morning, and this was an indication that although many things could go wrong in one’s personal life, there was hope not only for them but for the future as well. As long as individuals treated others with respect and consideration, we could all live in a better world.
Now the way you tell a good watermelon is three. To leave it intact, place a straw on it, and if the straw doesn’t turn very much, it’s a good melon. If the straw falls suddenly off, try another melon. Second, thump the melon with your knuckles. If the sound is a deep sound, it’s a good melon. Get it. If it has a tin sound, go to the next melon. Thirdly, good neighbors would allow you to “plug” the melon. That is cut about a two inch square three inches deep such that the melon forms a triangle, and remove the plug. If it’s good it will be ripe but not too much. Take it. If it’s green, try another. An honorable grocer, would not mind your* doing all these things, because you know, everybody remembered the “Depression” and every dollar was valuable. Especially, the farther from the city you were, the more investigation of the melon was tolerated. Now there’s a good article on “molasses” on the page with Letters to the Editor, written by Pettus L Read.
Honor and respect for the neighbors was in order in those days. After all, you would be living by them for many years, and you had to get along. Nashville was a long way off, transportation was not taken for granted, and solutions were local, not national. Besides it was the Christian thing to do.
Quite touching is the account by Donna Kennedy about her father, Ray Finch, whom by the way I knew down at Kingston Springs school. We would all ask that peace might come upon her and the entire family.
So congratulations, Dale, for an informative and valuable paper.
*Good English or very formal English, requires a possessive pronoun before a participle with “ing”. So saying “you doing all these things” is not as correct as saying “your doing all these things.” But this may be dated. Also don’t use “yourself” when the pronoun “you” can be used; and don’t say “myself” when “me” is appropriate. Use “I” when it is the subject, and “me” when it is the object. It is not always correct to say “Joseph and I” just because it sounds better. It depends on its use as subject or object. You can learn this down at the elementary school, where propriety is honored. Some of the Letters to the Editor, but not all, show the school in such a good light! Also make your verbs plural when the noun is plural. Say “They don’t do it” not “He don’t know how to write.” One of the problems is that teachers spend a lot of time teaching good grammar, but it is not practiced. Good grammar should be used, not just learned. I knew a preacher in the area, that asked me to look at his grammar—it was substandard, but–and this is a big BUT—he only needed to clean up just a few minor things and his language would be fluent.
Walter W. Robinson