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OLE STUFF AND SUCH Country teenage life in the fifties, part 1

By Frances Garner


Teen-agers today hear a lot about what their parents and grandparents didn’t have when they were growing up and how they should be more thankful for the advantages they have to enjoy.

As I think back over the years, I think of the things we did have and what our children and grandchildren today are missing.

Many will never feel the cold, refreshing taste of homemade pineapple ice cream from a hand cranked freezer nor the anticipation of waiting for such an occasional treat, only in summertime to be for sure.

The front porch swing, no longer used for visiting, was the center of conversation among family and neighbors alike.

These would gather on a Saturday night, listen to the Grand ‘Ole Opry, have a peanut boiling (you got to pick them off, too), or just swap neighborhood news like social life of the church, or who was getting married.

It is said that you can tell when someone is getting old; they will talk about the past. So I am admitting my age (62 to be exact) because I am going to point out the differences in the way your social life is today and what mine revolved around in the fifties.

You have to remember there was a shortage of automobiles (all of them secondhand, of course) none of the girls had one, and if the boys were fortunate enough to have one, it was not one they would like to tell about in “show and tell.”

Also there was no television, VCR’s or fast food places (a wood stove could hardly be called fast).

We did have the Ritz Theater in downtown Greenville where you could see a good western movie or a good old romance (classics today) and later the drive-in which was a big hit.

For a time there was a skating rink at Pineview Log Cabin (old haunt of Hank Williams) in Georgiana and we could go there if it was not a school night and had someone to take us.

Everyone went in groups because a vehicle was limited and the boys had to pool their money to buy gas although it was very cheap then (skating was a quarter and you could skate all night or as late as you could stay out).

The Sunday afternoon diversion for the young people was to gang up and go to the Chapman Fire Tower.

The man in charge would let us climb up and down it all afternoon, socialize on the grassy grounds, and maybe take some pictures if anyone brought along a camera (we did not own a camera).

The biggest social outlet we had and the community for that matter, revolved around the church, especially at revival time.

Our community group of young folks was made up of Methodist, Baptist, and Holiness, but it did not matter whose church was having a revival.

A revival meant somewhere to go with “Homecomings” on the Sunday preceding the revival.

The older folks called these “big meetings” or “protractive meetings.” My mother and dad’s roots were in Pigeon Creek so the first Sunday in August was their Homecoming and it was anticipated for weeks in advance.

The farmers would try to be caught up with their work and for a week following Homecoming you would attend church day and night.

People would come from the surrounding communities and we were always on the lookout for new boys.

The church would have an overflow crowd although you might have to fight wasp, gnats, and the summer heat.

In every revival, different families would sign up to feed the preacher, morning and evening.

Usually they would also invite all the young people to come along too. The cooking was a far cry from today.

It wasn’t microwave dinners, pizza or hot dogs by any means. I’m talking real food like banana puddings cooked in dishpans, pots of chicken and dumplings and cornbread in stacks.

You know what? We ate the same kind of food that the adults ate and did not know any better.

We were healthier then and health stores were non-existent. Our food was all natural.

It either came from the garden, smokehouse, or right off the yard (fried chicken was always fresh).

You may think you have dined in some elegant restaurants, but let me tell you about one of the houses we dined in with the overhead fan, if I can do it justice with my description.

There was this newspaper draped over a huge dowel stick or something similar (homemade) and attached to the ceiling.

The lady of the house would stand at one end of the table and pull this by a cord back and forth, over your head.

If you can imagine this, a soft breeze going right over the top of your head and you could hardly wait for it to come back again.

You see it served two purposes, not only cooled the top of your head but discouraged the flies also.

I am convinced this was the idea that brought the ceiling fans into being.

Seriously, we had awful good times during big meeting days; a baptizing would always follow down at Pigeon Creek then known as the Martin Bridge.

Soon as the candidates were baptized, we would all be ready to hit the water and spend the rest of the afternoon in the creek.

This was a daily treat in the summertime if you could get a ride down to the creek. Once in awhile you might see a snake but for the most part, I think the snakes were scared of us. (to be cont)

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