Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Pine Torch Tale




When I see an old kerosene lantern it brings back lots of memories and takes me back to a place when folks didn’t know what a flashlight was or ever heard of one.
Times were so much different back then that most people wouldn’t even recognize some of the ways people did to get by. Everybody used a pine torch or a kerosene lantern. We never had but one lantern that I recall. Daddy kept it hanging on the wall of the old smokehouse. He used it back in his Fox Hunting Days. It seemed the pine torch became more and more popular for lack of kerosene I suppose.

I remember many a night walking beside my daddy, mama or grandma by the light of a pine torch. Daddy always kept plenty of pine in the wood box to start fires in the cook stove or heater. He’d go upon the hill with his axe and find a big black pine and come back with a bucket full. He had a certain wood box he kept the pine in.
 My grandma was the world’s worst to grab a piece out of the wood box and light it up when she needed to go somewhere after dark. We called her little ma cause she was skinny as a rail. We called our other grandma big ma cause she had more meat on her bones.

My little ma lived with us till she died. She was a Christian woman and really believed in the power of prayer. She could pray some of the most humbling, heartfelt prayers that I’ve ever heard. I know cause when something got to bothering her she’d go up on the mountain above where we built our playhouses to pray and I either followed or listened in. I remember her lifting up many prayers for her two sons.

My daddy and my uncle did worry her quite a bit, especially when they both decided to take a little nip or maybe several when the mood hit em. Now don’t get me wrong, they were good, hard working men and believed in keeping their families fed and looked after but they had their short comings just like everybody else. But when they both quit, they quit fast as they started.

When dark thirty came and they weren’t home little ma would start walking the floors and asking mama, “ye reckon where them boys are.” Mama would say, “don’t fret so they’ll be in after while.” They both knew why they were out late, but just didn’t know the where. After a while little ma would grab a stick of pine from the wood box and tell mama, “let’s go see if we can find em, they may have drowned in that there creek.”
There wasn’t but four of us six young’uns by that time, me being the oldest. The others hadn’t come along yet. Little ma would walk out in the yard and light up that pine torch and mama would put the baby on her hip and here we’d all go out that dark road towards the creek.

There was always a little foot log we walked across to get to the other side of the creek. Little ma always worried that someone would set em out and they’d get drowned in the creek trying to crawl on all fours. The creek wasn’t deep at all and flowed down kinda like a wide branch of water.

 One night in particular stands out in my memory, more so. We were all walking out that little road and us young’uns were hanging on to mama and little ma’s legs like always when we heard something that gave us quite a scare. Little ma and mama heard it first and told us to be quiet a minute. We all listened close and heard it again. By that time we were really hanging to mama and little ma’s legs. Mama said, “here take this baby ma and I’ll go in front.” Ma still had the pine torch and she handed it to mama and we followed behind. The strange noise continued the closer we got to the creek. Us young’uns were absolutely scared to death but mama assured us it’d be alright cause she knew what it was. She said, “uns hush young’uns, it’s just your daddy and uncle.”

When we walked down the little hill and closer to the creek there they were. Daddy was on all fours trying to crawl across the foot log and our uncle was in the middle of that creek trying to crawl across it. They both were hollering, “Help us mommy, come get us”.
While little ma was Thanking God that her boys were safe, mama spoke up and said, “here take this pine torch, I’m gonna break em once and for all.” Mama reached up and broke a big limb off the bank of the road. She left the leaves on it and didn’t take the time to strip em off like she did lots of times with us. She walked up to that foot log and started on daddy first. She whupped him with that limb till he managed to get up on his feet and she made him walk off of that foot log and told him he’d better get towards that house or else. He was hollering, “Oh, Oh, Stop You’re Gonna Kill Me.” Then when she seen him staggering on towards home she walked straight into that little creek and done the same to my uncle. She kept whupping him with that limb till he was crying and hollering, “Stop Her Mommy She’s Gonna Kill Me.” Little ma started in the water with the baby on her hip but mama pointed at her and told her to stay right where she was and to hold that pine torch up a little higher.
 When my uncle seen his mama wasn’t gonna help him any and he’d had enough of that bushy limb he straightened up and walked outta that creek and staggered on towards the house. As mama was takin the baby outta little ma’s arms, little ma said, “you shouldn’t have done that, you just about killed em.” Mama said “If I’d wanted em dead they wouldn’t be up walkin right now and I’m sick and tired of them two birds worryin ye to death all the time and if this doesn’t do the trick I’ll give em some more of their medicine till I break em from this stuff.” Mama knew it couldn’t have hurt em to bad cause she didn’t strip the leaves off the limb. She just whupped em good with it.

Little ma didn’t say anymore and we all walked back to the house by the light of the pine torch. Daddy and my uncle managed to stagger on in home without a pine torch cause when we walked in the door there laid my uncle on the couch and daddy had managed to make it to the bed.
Mama put us all to bed and then I heard her tell little ma, “ I hated to do what I did in front of ye and all these young’uns but I’m tired of seein ye worry yourself to death all the time.” Little ma didn’t say anything back, just went on to bed. The only thing I noticed different the next morning was a few scratches on their face, nose and arms and how nice they talked to mama. Sugar wouldn’t melt in their mouth.

I guess, after many nights of an old mother worrying about her boys out karousin and going to that little creek with a pine torch in her hand, it all came to an end that one night, when mama decided to sober em both up really fast. But little ma kept praying for her boys as long as she lived and anybody else that needed it and those pine torches continued to come in handy every step we made.


© Susie Swanson, 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Little Things




So often the little things
Give me so much pleasure
The beauty of a sunrise
Is a golden treasure

Little children’s voices
When they’re busy at play
The song of the birds
At the break of day

My flowers each year
Blooming there for me
The blue of the sky
As far as the eyes can see

The twinkling of fire-flies
On a summer’s night
The sunset at evening
Fills my heart with delight

The wind blowing
An autumn filled-breeze
The rainbow of colors
Of autumn-turned leaves

Raindrops falling
On fields of green
Sewing my quilts
On an old sewing machine

Winter’s snowflakes
Falling softly to the ground
The running of the creek
And its soothing sound

Everywhere I look 
I can find them there
The little things in life
And I’ll kindly share

© Susie Swanson, 2016

As most of you have already noticed, I haven't been on much or visited with ya'll. Sadly, my health issues have gradually got even worse to the point that I have to struggle through each day. This horrendous disease called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis has taken over my life in so many ways. And when I think it can't do anything more it punches me even more hard. I've developed other health issues as well, as if it wasn't enough to deal with. But I'm still holding on to my Faith more each day. If it wasn't for God none of us would even be here but as humans we reach the point where life feels non existent sometimes. I have never asked for pity from anyone, only prayers that God will heal me or at least make it more bareable. Many thanks to all of you that's prayed for me and I've felt everyone. God has a plan for all of us and it may not come in our time but he knows all things. I'll be back and forth as I'm able to visit with you all and May God Bless each one of you. ~Susie

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Old Timey Home Remedies








 It's that time of year again when all the sneezing, snorting, blowing and coughing starts. Here's a little something I wrote a couple years ago that might be of interest. 


I remember back when I was little we hardly ever went to a doctor when we got sick. Mama would doctor us with home remedies and she really knew a lot of em. She used a lot of Save the Baby. She’d put a drop or two on sugar in a teaspoon, hold our nostrils together and blow in our face till we swallowed it. You talk about stopping a cough and curing the croup, it did. It sure did break it up and she always said a cough has got to be loosened up before it’ll stop.

I know everybody’s heard of Soltice. It came in a jar and was used to open up a chest or cough. It’d even open up ye head and make it run.  Daddy thought he needed some on his chest every night before bed. Mama said, it was just a habit.
She’d even cook up some onions and make us eat em. Supposedly, they were good for a cold and cough.
No worries when we got a chest cold or cough, we either got some good ole tasting Save the Baby, rubbed down with Soltice, or Vick’s Salve, or eat a lot of cooked onions. There were lots more remedies, to many to mention.
Daddy made up his own cough syrup every winter. He used a small amount of white liquor, honey and lemon. He’d shake it up good and hide it so none of us kids could find it. Mama always accused him of sipping on it to much.

For the sore throat it was vinegar diluted with a little water. We had to gargle it but mama gargled the vinegar full strength. She wouldn’t let us young’uns do that for fear it’d strangle us to death. 

For a nose bleed she’d take a small piece of a brown paper poke (bag) and fold it up real small and put it under the upper lip and it’d stop the blood. But most of the time she’d read the verse in the Bible, Ezekiel 16:6. It really works with faith. And camphor was used for the swimey head, also known as fainting and sick stomach. One whiff under ye nose and the sickness was gone.

For burns, scratches or cuts, Turpentine was the best remedy there was.
Mama would rub a little around our belly button to worm us. It had to many uses to name but we sure did get wormed quite often.

For bee and wasp stings she’d take a dab of snuff out of her mouth and rub on the sting to stop the hurting and draw the poison out. I don’t reckon we ever got snake bit. I’d hate to think what she would’ve done.  It was pure luck that we didn’t. I’ve heard of a lot of home remedies used for snake bite.

Oh the uses of Sassafras Tea. The root or bark was boiled into a tea and sweetened. It was used to cleanse the system of the winter blahs as they called it and whatever else was ailing ye. It was good for the kidneys, cleansing the bladder, arthritis and other aches and pains.
All the older folks spoke of it highly and were a firm believer in its healing and cleansing.

I sure can’t forget the famous Castor Oil that she loved to punish us with. Yep, that’s what I called it at the time but now that I look back on it, I can honestly say it worked. The older folks always said a good cleaning out would take care of what ailed ye, just the thoughts of the taste still makes me gag today.
We jumped for joy when Castoria came out. It actually had a better taste even though it was syrupy and we didn’t mind taking it. But when she’d come out with the Castor Oil we’d run and hide, still had to take our medicine though.
Take ye pick, Castor Oil, Castoria, Black Draught, or daddy’s all time favorite Epsom Salts. These are only a few, to many to mention. The older folks sure did believe in the cleaning out part.

My oldest brother had the earache a lot when he was little and mama would lay him over her legs and drop warm sweet oil in his ear from a teaspoon that she’d heated on the stove eye. Then she’d cover his ear with a warm rag and it’d ease his ear. And if that didn’t do the trick,  she’d take a puff off of one of daddy’s Camel or Lucky Strike cigarettes and blow in his ear. Cigarette smoke was the best medicine in the world for the earache mama proclaimed. I’ll never forget the first time we saw her do that. We all just stood there gawking. We’d never seen mama smoke in our lives and we told her of it. She said, that ain’t smoking it’s medicine.

I remember her growing a lot of catnip for the babies around. She’d boil it into a tea and add a smidgen of sugar just enough to sweeten it a little to get em to drink it in their bottle and it was good for the belly ache (Colic). She said it’d even make em sleep better. Daddy would even slip in a few sips every now and then, especially at bedtime, said it made him sleep better.

 And of course there was the Thrash (Thrush) remedy. She used some type of plant or tree leaf. She never told anyone what it was except daddy and one of my brothers. She did that so they could fetch it for her. Mama cured everyone around at one time or another over the years. Most were young’uns but quite a few grown- ups came to her with their mouth covered in blisters. She said there was three kinds of the Thrash, yellow, white and red. She could tell by looking at the blisters in their mouth what kind it was.
Word soon got around and even her doctor started sending his patients to her. She never charged a dime, said it wouldn’t have worked. No one ever knew what she did. The younguns sure didn’t know and grown-ups were blindfolded but it did the trick and there’s a lot of folks walking around today that can attest to that, including me.

Yellow root was used for the sore mouth, among other things and ye had to chew on it. Daddy sure did chew a lot of it. He said it was using that old backer that made his mouth sore. It grew on the creek bank or the branch bank. He’d strip the leaves and bark off before he chewed it. Back then a lot of folks paid many visits to the creek bank getting Yellow Root for various reasons.
 It could also be made into a tea and drunk for stomach problems. It’s been said that it helped the kidneys, liver, digestion system, etc.

I remember us young’uns only going to a doctor a very few times. What was the use in going when we had our own medicines and own doctor. Mama even did surgery one time on my sister’s finger. She chopped it almost off with the axe. It was barely hanging on by a little skin when we all got to her. Mama took her inside and grabbed the alcohol and camphor and went to work putting that finger back together and bandaged it really good and kept a close watch on it.  The camphor was used to put under her nose to keep her from passing out during surgery.  She used enough alcohol to fill the ocean and my sister would squall out like a painter. She had to change the bandages at least twice a day but it grew back and she’s just got a small scar today.

We did have one old doctor that practiced out of his house and his wife was his nurse. We only went when we absolutely had to. The first time I ever went to him I was six years old. I’d been laid up for days with the Strep Throat. Mama first thought it was just the sore throat but as time went on my temperature went up so high she couldn’t get it down. She told daddy to load me up and take me. He gave me a shot of penicillin and it did the trick. I’m deathly allergic to penicillin today. 

I know people were a lot more healthy back in the days when all they had to use was home remedies. A lot of it can be attributed to their lifestyle, exercise and eating healthy.
Some things they used like Save The Baby can’t even be bought in a store anymore. They took it off the shelves, said it didn’t work along with lots of other stuff, go figure. They said that a lot of the old time ways were old wives tales. Well I’m here to say I’m living proof that it did work or I probably wouldn’t be still kicking. My mama knew what she was doing and she wasn’t no fool. She raised to many young’uns not to know what to do for em when they got sick. My mama was our doctor and she had plenty of common sense to go along with it. She once said, if ye depend on a doctor to do anything for ye now days you’ll die. In my book, she hit the nail on the head. If she was still here today I wonder what she’d come up with to take care of what ails me. She’d find something, I’m sure.

Personally, I’m thinking about trying the Castor Oil again, if I can get up the nerve. It’ll either cure me or kill me. Maybe we all need to go back to the old timey ways. Probably get better results and a good cleaning out never killed anybody.



I smile to think of what they used
To help us kids survive
But I am now going on 65
And very much alive

My sore throats were eased
I’m still holding onto my anchor
To think of sucking sugar lumps
With a drop or two of camphor

And camphor mixed with lard for
A winter chest congestion
Baking soda cleansed my teeth
And helped my indigestion

Because of mama’s tender heart
I hereby sing oh Gloria
For the few times she switched
Castor oil with syrupy castoria

Turpentine for tics and mosquito bites
And Turpentine on the scratches
The sickroom was fumigated with
Our sulphur kitchen matches

Somehow there’s quite a bunch of us
That’s never had a shot
But here we are still a kicking
And enjoying life a lot.

© Susie Swanson 2016 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Let Us Not Forget





Let us not forget the ancient wisdom
With which our ancestors walked their days
Let us carry on with great determination
With a grateful heart, to God we give the praise

Let us not forget the mountains they climbed
In the darkest valleys where they found light
Footprints are abundant down every path
All their yesterdays can be found in plain sight

Let us not forget the sound of their voice
In the distance, they are still calling us home
The place where many a prayer was heard
Shaping our tomorrows, until we were grown

Let us not forget the love that was given
 All under the same roof, each night at bed
The teachings of God’s word, from the bible
Food for our body and soul, we were always fed

Let us not forget the many sacrifices made
Working from sun up until sun down
The love of family, there is no boundaries
How proud we must be of them, so profound

Let us not forget the place, from which we came
May our hearts stay humble and proud
And listen to the wisdom of all the ages
Can you hear…. the echoes are calling so loud 

© Susie Swanson 2016

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Old Timey Meetins

 



I don’t reckon I’ve ever been in any better church meetings than when I was a young girl and we went to those spirit filled revivals and singings. The whole church house would rock from the preaching, shouting and singing. They were called meetins back then and everybody for miles around packed in those little churches and it was standing room only if one was lucky. A lot of the time most folks would just stand outside and listen.

I’ll never forget the night the Lord spoke to my heart. It was during one of those old, timey meetins that I hit that altar faster than a cat could lick. I was 13 years old and remember it as if it was yesterday. I got baptized in a little swimming hole called the Tadpole Hole.  In that moment in time my life surely changed and it gets sweeter by the day.

We had to walk to get to most of em but that didn’t sway anyone from going. Very few people owned a vehicle and there wasn’t many on the roads. 
I started out walking with my grandma when I was very young. There wasn’t any roads that were to long or wide for her to hoof it on. She was a shoutin woman for sure. She’d shout the hills out come Decoration Day and Dinner on the ground, and when we’d get in one of them kind of meetins she never stopped from the time she walked through the door, never knew when to hush. Mama and daddy went when they could but it was hard on em with a whole gang of kids to drag along.

After my grandma passed away things changed. More folks got a vehicle and were able to haul their families to church. My daddy loved a good old, timey spiritual singing better than anything. When he found out where one was gonna be, he’d always ask me if I wanted to go with him. Needless to say, me and daddy went to a lot of singings together.
He’d put on his Sunday go to meetin clothes which always consisted of his best pair of overalls, best shirt and his cap of course and his polished and shiny slippers.

 Daddy loved to run his mouth outside the church and knew everybody there and they knew him but when he entered the door and pulled his cap off he became a different man. I enjoyed those singings but I enjoyed watching daddy’s reactions too. He’d get in such a way and so caught up in that spiritual singing that it touched my heart so much and oh what joy just to see that smile come upon his face and watch him shake his leg , pat his foot or take his old cap and slap it against his legs. He really enjoyed it so much and had his own way of praising the Lord.

We’d go far and near in that old truck of his, didn’t matter what church or affiliation. He didn’t care how big the crowd was or how small, he made himself at home.
My grandma had her way and daddy had his way but I sure did enjoy going to those old timey, meetins and good, spiritual singings with daddy.

A lot of things have changed over the years but there’s still plenty of singings around and every time I go to one I think of daddy and can just see him there with that big smile, pattin his foot and slapping his cap against his legs. I know he’s there in spirit and enjoying it as much as me. I can only imagine the many singings he’s enjoying in heaven each day and mama’s right there beside him and they’ve both got a big smile on their face. I’ll see you both real soon, save a place for me in the front right beside both of you

                                       © Susie Swanson, 2016