The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Greetings to everyone in western Illinois. I'm a hope'n this fall season has gone well fer ya and ya've had time to prepare your home for colder weather a come'n up ahead.
Most of the harvest is put away by now, at least for those who strive for it to be so. Thoughts now gravitate toward market'n the years bounty and care'n for livestock. Whatever ya do, don't forget to lay aside some food for the wildlife.
Halloween is soon upon us and I can remember a good many years in the past where harvest was not complete before that calendar date. Trick or Treat from the cornpicker, was enterest'n watch'n neighborhood chillens travel from nearby farmstead to farmstead.
Ahhh Halloween, with stories of witches and ghosts and unlucky black cats. Parties where folks dress in weird costumes that would make them sure seem silly at any other times than Halloween. Apple bobb'n and string dangl'n are fun times of old. Halloween allows ever person a chance at a little fun and entertainment.
I remember years ago as a young lad visit'n a farm neighbor fresh from the, "Old Country". We yelled, Trick or Treat", in anticipation and excitement expect'n some sweet treats. He opened the back door of his farm house and let out a blast of his shotgun. In broken tongue he made it clear we should make a quick exit for other parts of the community. I reckon he hadn't yet learned our traditions.
A place to be, in days of old, after harvest time, was grandparents cool, dark, damp root cellar. In those days it seemed the most mysterious and intriguing place of all the farm.
Great pyramids of apples and potatoes filled the bins. The shelves in the fruit cellar were loaded to capacity with two quart, quart and pint jars of fruits, vegetables, preserves, pickles, jellies and meats.
Grandma's and grandpa's cellar was filled with the pleasant scent of fresh apples, potatoes, turnips and other mouth water'n root vegetables.
Nestled up in corners of the huge cellar underneath their farmhouse were country crocks of all sizes which were filled with preserved foods for the long, hard winter that was always expected.
These were the hold over days when there were no refrigerators or freezers to preserve food. The cellar bottom was the place to store the round, beige, earthenware crocks with the dark brown necks and oft made at, "Maple City Pottery".
It was so fascinate'n to watch grandma lift the wood or metal plate, and rock weigh'n it down, off the top of the huge crock of sauerkraut. It was truly delicious, served for dinner with pork roast or homemade sausage.
When the grandparents, of years long gone by, wanted something for supper, they seldom made a quick trip to the store. Their supplies were in the cellar. A swift trip to town was not possible, practical, or thinkable in farm country in those days.
The country crocks contained delicious dill pickles, meats in brine, apple butter, and eggs preserved in brine and red wines. Aged cheese and butter were also stored in smaller crocks.
There was always a plate to cover the smaller crocks, topped with a heavy rock or stone to discourage a hungry country mouse. The larger crocks were covered with tin covers, topped with rocks to weigh them down, or more often wooden homemade cover'ns.
Some of the crocks were used to store applesauce, candied cherries, pickled pears, relishes, or mincemeats for short lengths of time. The cool cellar was just the place to set a crock of Jello.
The folk of old knew full well of the various temperatures and humidity at different levels within the cellar. They knew exactly to a science which produce and meats stored and kept best at various appropriate locations, within the cellar, from floor level to hang'n from the ceil'n. And ahhh, what a mixture of pleasant aromas.
Today folk mostly use the old crocks for antique decorations and they bring a right smart price at auctions.
Once in a while exploration in an old root cellar yields the explorer a few relics of days gone by. Such a find gives moments of joyful pleasure to those with nostalgic memories of the past.
Kay Hoffman put it best as a proclamation of summer gone by:
When the apple butter simmers
To a rich an' spicy brown,
When there's corn roasts in the makin'
And hay-wagon trips abound.
When the frost is on the pumpkin
And the bird house is, "For rent",
Then you'll know without a doubt
That summer's up and went!
What say ye, why don't ya check out your old root cellar and see what treasures ya might find. If'n your family has been on the ole homestead for several generations ya might be surprised as to what you'll discover.
I know ours has glass filled fruit jars and canned goods packaged with love and care from long gone loved ones of several generations ago. It is intrigue'n to imagine what their thoughts were in the process and if'n they ever dreamed the fruits of their labor's would be around so many years later.It was good to see a lot of you'ns over north at the Baptist Ham and Bean supper for mission projects, and then afterwards at the Raritan Opera House to hear the Central Illinois Banjo Club perform. That one feller with the black wig on sure had everyone fooled and the costume fit in with the song they were a play'n to. The community sure supported some old fashioned fun and the old opera house was a rock'n that night.One of them Banjo players grew up a Raritan boy, Denny Overstreet, and is responsible, I hear tell, for bring'n the Banjo Club to town. Me and the boys take our hats off to ya for remember'n and support'n your home community. One of the boys said his favorite song was "I'll fly away," and his wife's favorite was an old Hank William's song, His wife knew all the words and in fact, sang along to almost every song. In one of the songs, there was a whole lot of whistlers in the audience that he enjoyed take'n part in. Anyway, people were tap'n their shoes, clap'n their hands and cheer'n to the whole affair.As long as folk support community efforts such as this, it sure seems our Henderson and Hancock communities are in good hands.
Have yourself a good week come'n up. I'm a hope'n ya enjoyed this trip down memory lane.
Keep on Smile'n
Catch ya Later