Last time I introduced you to my Great Aunt Willie. What an inspiration! In Part 2 of this series, I give you more Great Aunt Willie – this time in her own words. You see, some years back she wrote her “story”. Isn’t that what makes life so grand? Everyone has a story. So sit back and enjoy some of the excerpts in her own words . . . (of course I’ll narrate some in between)
Willie’s story starts appropriately with her birth. “As I remember, it was a cold night, February 9, 1922, that a beautiful baby girl made her grand entry into the home of Zeke and Nora Nixon.” (Zeke and Nora Nixon were my own Granny and Grandpa and I have wonderful fond memories of them). Back to the story . . .
Willie was the last child born in this large family that already had seven children; 6 girls and 1 boy. She wrote, “What a racket! I knew they were excited, but not necessarily from sheer joy. It meant growing up a little faster and making room for one more in a house already bursting at the seams. Of course it didn’t take long to realize the seventh daughter was a real charmer.”
We’ll fast forward 3 years as Willie tells about their big move. “Papa” was a farmer and was given an opportunity to farm 240 acres; it was 120 miles from where they lived. But away they went, managing to move everything they owned with a Ford truck and 3 wagons traveling those 120 miles all on dirt roads.
Can you just picture this? The oldest child was 14 (my own grandma Allen), with the rest of the Nixon children stair-stepping down to the 3 year old (Willie); traveling that distance without cell phones, no mp3, CDs or DVD players in the car, no Rest Areas, no restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or a motel to sleep at night?
Anyway back to the story . . .
“It was a splendid place. The house had three rooms. The kitchen was large. We had a very long table that seated many people. What a place for kids. We had a big red barn with a hay loft. There was an orchard, an elm grove and mulberry trees. The Washita River ran through the middle of the farm. There was a bridge high above the river. There was a smoke house, a two seater outhouse, a long chicken house and other necessities, like a storm cellar, an earthen silo, a windmill, a cement watering trough for the livestock, a cistern. . . ” (Do you hear more stories coming in Part 3?)
They had several cows. Some of the milk was run through a separator and the thick cream went into a tall in can to be hauled to the market; while the skimmed milk was fed to the pigs.
“We drank whole milk, rich and sweet. We always kept plenty of cream to churn for butter. That was a job for a small child.” (Remember Willie was the baby of the family here). She goes on to say, “My arms ached from up-down, up-down, until butter formed at the top. It was a tall crock churn with a wooden dasher. I had the lid off half the time to see if anything was happening.” (Mama, hasn’t it turned to butter yet?) “What a sight – yellow, sweet butter floating on the top. It was lifted from the churn, washed, pressed to get excess moisture out, salted and put into a large bowl. Churning was almost a daily job; butter disappeared so fast at our house with all the hot biscuits, corn bread and about once a week, light bread.”
And oh the food . . .
“I really didn’t mind chicken most days, especially if it was fried. There was fresh corn, string beans, green peas, black-eyed peas, beets, new potatoes, okra, melons, cucumbers, radishes, lettuce, onions and much more.”
I’m guessing that the chicken was fried in lard since they raised pigs. (Lard, whole milk, butter, cream and two of the Nixon children are still alive at ages 90 and 96! Pass the butter please!)
“We watched the corn, and as soon as it was eatable, Mama picked the tender ears that were scarcely more than blisters. With fresh sweet butter, one could eat half a dozen. Creamed corn was also a specialty of hers. She cut the corn from many cobs, than scraped the cobs to get the sweet milk-like juice. Then, with loads of butter and cream, it bubbled over the fire just a little while. With a pinch of flour to thicken, it was sooo good.”
To be continued . . . stay tuned for some of the fun adventures of Willie as a young girl growing up in the 1920s and 1930s. Willie will also treat you to some of the old fashioned “remedies”. And of course more real farm fresh food!