By Frances Lowery Garner
In the late 40’s and 50’s (my growing up years), it was very practical and economical for the farmers to save their “seed” peas, corn, and peanuts from season to season.
The peas that were not used for summer canning were left to dry. They were put into sacks and hung up in the barn until thoroughly dry and then taken out and beaten away from the hulls.
You would take the sack outside and pour them into a tub and let the wind blow out the chaff.
You could also use some for dried black eye peas if the family got tired of eating the canned ones.
The dried peas would be very tasty when cooked with a piece of the smoked pork from the smokehouse.
These were always cooked New Years Day as a sign of good luck for the New Year.
Later on the tradition was to add some turnips or collard greens to the menu so you would be assured of something green (paper money) all year long.
The peas were safely stored into something that would keep the weevils out until time for the spring planting.
Peanuts were picked from the vines once they were dug. The digging was done strictly by mule and plow as tractors were not popular then for the small farmer and also too expensive.
The green ones could be boiled and the young people were known to have peanut boilings as a way of getting together.
The peanuts would be boiled outside in a black wash pot while the young people played games until they were done.
We did not have cokes or anything to drink with them unless it was well water. This was no big deal because we were not accustomed to bought drinks.
The dried seed peanuts were put up away from the rats for rainy and cold day chores in front of the fireplace.
It took many hours of shelling and your fingers soon got sore before enough “penders” were shelled for the spring planting.
Daddy would be the head sheller and keep us entertained with his humorous tales and we would enjoy time spent with him as he was usually out in the field or chopping firewood.
We also could roast some of the peanuts in Mama’s big wood range and the aroma would fill the house.
They were very good to make peanut brittle (raw ones) and excellent for setting rat traps.
Everyone would have mice to sneak into the house during the winter months for they were hunting a warm place. They would go for the raw peanuts only to find out too late, they were deadly.
A farmer was never idle. His was a sunup to sundown job and he only took off on Sunday.
This was a day reserved for rest and worship, the climax to follow a long working week.
Mama would always plan her meals ahead and we were early to rise on Sunday just like Monday but no field work was done.
Everyone had their bath on Saturday night and clothes would be starched, ironed and ready to wear.
Lunch was cooked right after breakfast and it would be ready when we got home from church.
This was before television and telephones so neighbors would visit to spend the evening on the front porch if weather permitted.
All the country houses had a front porch swing if they could afford it with some wooden outdoor rockers for resting and visiting.
We never complained of being “bored.” Country life left no time for boredom.
During school we studied and had chores to do. In in the summertime we had chores and went to the creek, attended every revival in our area, rode the bicycle to our friends, and had sleep overs a lot.
If your friend did not own a bicycle, we would double up as most all the bikes had handle bars for that purpose.
The dirt roads made it harder especially if there was a hill of any size so a lot of pushing was necessary to get where we were going.
I am so glad that I can look back and visualize the fun we had that did not require what it takes for a teenager to enjoy themselves today.
Just to think, we all managed to get an education without a computer.