Friday, August 12, 2011

In Her Own Words - Our Home

          "This account is recorded from what I had been told, from pictures, and from my childhood memories."   Chapter 2 of Ethel Hymers Glewwe's memoirs.

          "Mama said when she saw our house and entered the door, she wanted to turn and run.  She couldn't ever accept this huge block of sod as her house.  But Grandpa was there to greet them and he was so glad to see her and inside it was just as homelike as Grandpa could make it.  He had a table set and even a bunch of prairie roses - the setting sun shone through a window and she realized that Grandpa had tried to make the room as comfortable as possible.  He had been waiting so long for Papa and his family to return.  It was hard for him to hear the news of his first grandson's death...and realize that some of his dreams now would not come to pass.  Grandpa had fresh bread, but when Mother unpacked some of her foodstuff and eggs and cans of vegetables, fruit and jam - it was a feast for kings.

          Pioneering is a life style that is so totally different than normal traditional living and Mama was soon to experience it.  I remember Mama telling about an incident soon after she arrived.  She had asked Grandpa what he did for meat and shortening and Grandpa raised a rug from the floor and opened a trap door.  Getting on his hands and knees and reaching down into the darkness of the hole, he pulled up a slab of what is called sow-belly.  It is the fat with streaks of meat, cut from the underside of a pig's carcass and cured with salt.  At your butchershop it is called salt pork.  This particular piece was green with mold and Mama couldn't believe that Grandpa would consider using it for food.  Surely he didn't expect her to eat it!  But Grandpa just scraped back the mold and sliced off some pork - it was Mama's first lesson in preparing sow-belly.
          This summer was difficult.  We had no fresh vegetables, the seeds that Grandpa planted did not really produce very much.  We had three hens who had hatched out a few chickens, but we had to keep them for eggs and chickens don't always lay every day.  It takes about four months before young chicks are grown enough to be eaten and then one would only use the roosters and that would take time to select the best rooster for breeding and those that were not.  We had canned milk and occasionally some of the neighbor bachelors would bring some butter and fresh milk in exchange for bread that Mama baked.  Sometimes Mama would cut their hair or wash and mend their clothes - Mama was the only woman around the first two years we lived there.  Papa and Grandpa would go hunting and then we would have prairie chicken or wild turkey, sometimes rabbit or some of the men shot antelope and then everyone shared in a roast and we could make soup.  Mama said the wild meat was always tough and she never liked it much, but she learned how to cook it and cure it with salt."

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