By Frances Lowery Garner
During my growing up years, any type of outing was looked forward to with great anticipation.
These outings were usually limited to “Homecoming” at the church we attended, Fourth of July picnic, and the cemetery working.
Naturally all the younger folks, especially the children, looked forward to going to the creek for the picnic as this was a rare chance to go in swimming while the older folks assemble ingredients and mad a huge wash pot full of Brunswick stew.
This was a customary menu of the day for those who could eat the savory dish, which was highly seasoned with peppers of every description.
All the families involved (Hickman, Odom, Nix, Ledbetter, and Campbell) would contribute something toward the recipe with whatever they had including canned tomatoes, hot peppers, home grown Irish potatoes, onions, homemade catsup, and meat of every description, chicken, pork, and beef if possible.
One experienced man was usually assigned to the recipe and the tasting and if he like it hot, too bad for those who preferred a mild version.
The children would look forward to the pineapple sandwiches, cold lemonade, and homemade cookies or cake.
Some of the men would have to hitch up the wagon and go down to the creek at the Huguley Bridge real early in the day to get the fire going and the meat cooking.
Once it was done, the other ingredients were added and allowed to simmer until the noon day hour.
Meanwhile, someone who had transportation, usually a pickup truck, would go into Greenville to the ice to purchase a huge block or blocks of ice for the tea or lemonade.
The ice would be such a welcomed treat. The ice truck would deliver ice once a week from Greenville and it wasn’t that expensive but a lot of the people could not afford it and very few had an icebox to store it.
So a hole would be dug in the smokehouse in cedar sawdust and covered up with burlap bags.
A 50 pound chunk could be packed in an old quilt and it would keep for a few days but hard to keep until the ice man made his next deliver.
It would be picked off very carefully for each meal and none wasted.
The ice would remain open on the Fourth of July because this was probably their biggest sale day of the year.
Also, fresh bread was brought to eat with the stew or to make sandwiches for the children (pineapple was the sandwich of the day because it was canned and did require refrigeration).
There was no problem using all of the opened pineapple.
Homemade lemonade was made in a galvanized tub as well as the tea and poured with a long dipper.
Everyone would sit around on the ground on an old quilt, or stump, and it was laid back time, a great reprieve following the usual grind of hard work.
The younger folk were required to wait for at least 30 minutes after eating to go back into the creek.
Purchased swim suits were unheard of, so many of the young ladies homemade outfits were rather comical and certainly not conducive to swimming but more or less made for modesty.
The younger children could play in old dresses and underwear while the men would roll up their britches legs or either cut off an old pair of jeans or overalls that were completely worn out.
Sometime during the course of the day, if one of the farmers had ripe watermelons, they would also be cut and shared. They would be kept cook in the cold waters of the creek.
The day would end all too soon as the livestock had to fed, cows to be milked, and stove wood to be brought in back at the house.
It there was stew left, it would be shared and put in “fruit jars” for the supper meal.
All that remained after a good day were the memories and the red bug bites.