10-a Share Cropping in Oconee County




SHARE CROPPING IN OCONEE COUNTY

 

by

Pauline Kelley Cannon

 

               This is a partial story of things and events that happened along the way while we worked as share croppers in Oconee County.                                                        

            I was born on April 19th, 1928 during the Great Depression, to very poor parents. Up until the time I was about four and a half years old I lived with my maternal grandparents, Jim and Mary Broome. My grandmother was a very good woman, but my Grandpa was an alcoholic.

            Times were very hard and the stock market crashed in 1929. Shortly after that Grandpa lost his farm, but was allowed to live there for a while. Later he moved to one of Sloan Lyles' places.

            My dad had polio and was crippled. He was raised by his grandparents, Joe and Martha Kelley, after his mother died when he was 12 years old.

            Later he lived with some aunts and uncles after he was grown. He had relatives who lived in Florida, and they persuaded him to come down there to find a job. He worked several years on the dredge boats in Tampa, but Mama and us two little girls stayed with her parents. He came home occasionally. Several years passed before he decided to stay home and try his hand at share cropping.

 

                                                                                          



CHAPTER 1

 

            Dad rented a small farm down on Coneross Creek from a man named Alridge White. We had to walk about a mile to where the farmland was located. We worked half the land and Jess Harvey worked the other half.

            There was no bridge to cross the creek to get to our house, only a foot log. There was a corn mill about a half-mile from our house and the foot log was below it. It was fastened with railroad spikes to the rocks in the bottom of the creek to keep if from washing away when the storms and rains came. This is where we lived when Otto was born– Dec. 10, 1933. He was born on Grandpa's birthday.

            The house we lived in was located on a steep hill and the lower part of the house looked like it was on stilts. We didn't have a well but we got our water from a spring at the bottom of the hill. We kept our milk in the cold spring to keep it from spoiling.

            There was a place down near the spring where we did our washing. There was a galvanized tub or two and a big black washpot. We also had a battling block and stick to beat the dirt loose. We used lye soap to clean the clothes with before we put them in the washpot to boil. We got our water from the creek to do our washing and rinsing.

            We always had a cow and some chickens and a pig or hog.

            We also had an old mama cat who had a litter of kittens. Mama told us that we barely had enough milk for us so she told Maggie and me to put the kittens in a burlap sack––take them to the creek and drown them.

Mama didn't tie the mouth of the sack closed so we took it down to the creek and threw it in but I remember the kittens got back to the house before we did. Mama put the kittens in another sack and put a rock in it and tied it real tight. We put the sack in the creek and cried all the way back to the house. We really loved those kittens.

            That winter there was a real big ice storm and the yard and whole hillside was solid ice. You couldn't walk outside at all. The chicken house was at the edge of the yard and I remember Dad shelling some corn and throwing it out in the yard. The chickens would come out of the house and try to get the corn. They would skate down the hill after the corn, then flap their wings to get back up the hill and Dad would throw out more corn and here they would go again. Dad had a ball with those chickens trying to stand on the ice.

            The next spring we went to school and of course we had to walk the four miles to get there. While we were in school it came an awful rain storm and the creek was out of the banks and you couldn't even see the foot log. We waited on the bank for someone to come get us.

            Jess Harvey took a long pole and walked across that foot log even though you couldn't see it. He would take us one at a time under his arms and carry us across, then go back to get the other one and carry it across. I thought he was the bravest man to do that.

            We also had a grape vine swing. We would swing out over the deep water of the millpond. If one of us had fallen off we probably would have drowned as none of us could swim. I didn't think about it at the time but now when I think about it, it scares me.

            You can see we had fun times along with the hard times of planting, working, plowing, hoeing and gathering in the crops. God must have had a lot of Guardian Angels to watch over us. I think the Angels worked overtime taking care of us.

            One time we were walking home from school and we were playing with the other kids running up and down the banks. Maggie fell and sprained her ankle. Me and Wilma Meredith made a pack saddle and carried her out to Mr. Lester Alexander. He doctored her ankle. Then he hitched his horse to a buggy and carried her home. Mama wrapped her ankle in brown paper soaked in vinegar. It took a long time for it to heal so we both missed school for several months because it was 4 miles, too far away for one to go alone.

 

 

 

                                                                                                 


 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

            The crops were not too good that year. Dad rented a  farm from Mr. Tom Bibb that was close to Oak Grove School so we wouldn't have too far to walk.

            Mr. Bibb let Dad have his mules and wagon to move us in. Our farm was next to Mr. George Gibson's farm. That night Mr. Gibson came down to our house to welcome us into the neighborhood. That's what neighbors did in those days.

            I remember we were all sitting around the fireplace trying to keep warm when all of a sudden we heard cow bells, tin cans, tubs, whistles and all kinds of noise. The boys were serenading us to welcome us into the neighborhood. Finally after about 3 or 4 rounds around the house, Mr. Gibson said alright boys that will be enough. The noise stopped and the boys went home.

            This farm was down in a low place but the land was very good. Dad had to go up to Mr. Bibbs to get the mules to plow. There was a man by the name of Bill Eades who boarded with us to help with the plowing and planting. We had a lot of bottom land and raised a lot of corn. We planted beans beside the corn so we wouldn't have to stake them. Mr. Eades was a drifter and had no home. When he was eating he had a way of dipping his head every time he took a bite. Maggie and I would get tickled and Dad would make us leave the table.

            Mama would ask Mr. Eades if he wanted more coffee and he always said –––just a wee bit but he would hold his cup there until it ran over and never say stop. We thought this was very funny.

            Otto was still a small boy about 18 mo. to 2 years old. It came a big snow and he got very sick. The snow was 18 inches deep. Mr. Bibb let Daddy take his wagon to take us over to Grandma's. She knew more about what to do for him to get him well. We stayed a couple of weeks before we could go back home.

            Dad had to shovel a path to the barn so Mama could go milk the cow and feed the hog. We thought that snow would never melt.

            There was a shallow well on this place. You could take a long handled gourd and dip the water out.

            We planted cotton, corn and sugar cane. We hauled the cane to the syrup mill owned by Mr. Walter Alexander. He made syrup for everyone in the community.

            We had good crops that year and after the cotton was hauled to the gin we got new shoes and naturally they were high tops. We never got anything dainty like slippers––these shoes had to last us a whole year. We only got one pair a year.

            Our farm joined the farm of Mr. George Gibson and he had 5 or 6 boys. They would pick enough cotton to put in the bottom of their sacks, enough to fight each other with. They would play around and not pick much cotton. One day he told them he would pay them 10 cents a pound for all the cotton they picked that day, so they worked real hard and picked a lot. He weighed the cotton and paid them their money. Then he told them–boys I see you can do a good job, but now tomorrow you are going to pick that much cotton for free. You proved you can do it and I expect it every day.

            Before planting time the next year we had to knock the old cotton stalks with a hard stick and cut the old corn stalks before the plowing could begin. By this time Maggie and I were big enough to help with this chore. We would put them in piles and burn them.

            We planted a large garden and grew lots of vegetables for us to eat and also to can and save for the winter. Mama planted some seeds that she thought were squash but they were gourds, anyway Mama cooked them for squash and when we tried to eat them they were so bitter we could not eat them. She told us to put them in the slop bucket and feed them to the hog. The next morning when we went to feed the hog it was dead. We were very careful what we fed the hog after that.

            Every winter we would always set rabbit boxes to catch rabbits to eat ––that and pork were the only meats we had. We never did eat any beef.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 3

 

We moved from there to a farm owned by Mish Barnett. It was just below Oak Grove School. The house was a big two story house. We had to store the cotton in one of the back rooms. Lots of times we would play in that cotton if Mama and Daddy were not watching or were out in the fields. This is where Mary was born on Jan. 4th, 1937. She was so tiny they didn't weigh her until she was 2 weeks old and then she only weighed 5 pounds.

            This was where we lived when we first got electricity. We were watching as they were connecting the wire to the house and one of the men got a hold of a live wire. He was really screaming. We ran into the house and never went back to watch any more.

            That Christmas we decided to put us up a tree since there were 4 of us now, Maggie, Pauline, Otto and Mary. Maggie and I went down in the pasture below our house and found a pretty cedar tree. We started to cut it down and we didn't know that Barnetts had a real big bull. The sound of us chopping that tree aroused the bull and it came charging us ––if that fence had been any farther away we would not have made it. We never tried that again.

            Dad was cutting stove wood in the edge of the yard and Otto was standing on the step watching. Dad told him to get back in the house before he fell off. Sure enough about that time he fell and Dad popped him on his bottom and he started crying. We laughed at him and he said, It didn't feel so good I guess.

            Mary was almost 2 years old. She was really afraid of cotton. You could show her a piece of cotton and she would shiver like someone cold. All you had to do to get her to obey you was to tell her you were going to throw her on the cotton pile.

            Mr. Barnett decided he wanted to move in that house so we moved in the old log house across the road. He had been living in Miss Lucy's big house on Barnett's Road, but now it's called Doyle St.

            When we moved in the old log house there was no pasture for our cows. We had to take them to a pasture below Oak Grove School every morning and go back and bring them home at night. We had a barn but no pasture.

            We still share cropped the same land. That year along with the cotton and corn crops we also planted a big patch of peanuts, sugar cane and set out sweet potato slips.

            God was good to us and sent us plenty of rain. Farmers have to depend on God to have a good crop. The crops were always good when we got sufficient rain.

            This was when the CCC Camps were coming through planting pine seedlings and that took part of our farmland.

            I had two uncles in the CCC's. They bought Maggie and me a pair of sandals that were the first shoes we had that were not high tops. Mama let Maggie wear hers to school but she wouldn't let me wear mine. I wound up getting a whipping for fussing about her being better to Maggie than she was to me.

            The mules that Dad plowed with were the biggest mules I have ever seen. They must have weighed 1500 pounds or more each. Their names were Emma and Elleck. Emma was smart but Elleck was lazy. Dad would get frustrated with them and yell at them, but it didn't help much.

            The families who lived close to us were the Haney's and Mr. Will Cobb. Mr. Cobb had a black man who plowed for him by the name of Sam Staggers. He would sing while he was plowing. We thought that was neat to sing while working. He would sing Nobody Knows the Troubles I've Seen.

            Barnetts had a black lady name Carrie who cared for the house and children. Mrs. Barnett was sick most of the time. Carrie would come help us hoe our peanuts and she called them penders. We had never heard that before.

            Mr. Barnett had a young son named Johnny and he would come play with us after quitting time. One day we were playing and Maggie chased him through a pine thicket and he ran into a barbed wire fence and tore the front of his pants. He took his coat and wrapped it around him so he could go home.

            This was the same year that Dad had boils all over his arms and body. It was top cutting and fodder pulling time and he was unable to help us so all the neighbors came in and gathered the crops. That was what neighbors did in those days.

            The old log house we lived in looked like it was about to fall backward. It did not have any windows, only holes cut where the windows should be. They used strips of leather for hinges. They made big wooden shutters to close them with. We would close them at night and leave them open in the day if it wasn't raining or some other kind of weather. Our well was at the edge of the back yard. There were no screens for the doors or windows. Everything was open.

            One day I was doing the churning and one of Mama's frying sized chickens kept trying to come in the kitchen. There was a bucket full of small Irish potatoes setting by the stove so I told Otto to pick up one of those potatoes and knock that chicken out in the yard. He picked up one and hit the chicken in the head and killed it. We knew we would get a whipping for killing one of Mama's fryers, so we crawled under the floor and hid it, but in a few days it was smelling. Mama took a hoe and pulled it out. She said I wonder what happened to that chicken, but we didn't dare tell her.

            Another time we were trying to see who could put their foot over the back of their head. Johnny Barnett got his hung and couldn't get it down. It took two of us to get it down so we didn't try that again.

            One day we were in the back yard playing and Otto pushed me and I fell over the chicken coop and knocked my thumb out of place. It swelled up and looked terrible but was never put back in place and even today it is still out of place.

            One day Mama sent me and Maggie to Grandma's house to take her something –I don't remember what it was but Grandma lived the other side of Five Forks on Sloan Lyles place. We had started back home and came near this house on the side of the road. We could hear someone fighting and threatening to kill one another so we were afraid to pass this house. We ran back up the road and through someones patch of corn. Maggie stubbed her toe and foot on a corn stalk and knocked the big toe out of place. It was all swollen up and she moaned and groaned about a week with it. Finally she said I wish someone would pull my toe till it popped so I grabbed her toe and pulled it till it popped. She never complained with that anymore.

            The floor in the kitchen was so uneven that Dad had to nail our bench to the wall to hold it steady.

            There was a hen's nest under the kitchen floor and all you had to do to get the eggs was to raise a plank to get them. On the weekend we would sometimes go to visit some of our relatives. Dad usually stayed home to rest so he would be able to plow or plant the next week.

            We would be walking along and Mary would sing going down the road feeling bad – going to see Mandy and Julie. She was about 3 years old.

            That next year our crops didn't do too good so Dad decided it was time to move on.

            When we were packing up to move Mary cried when Dad took the mailbox down.

 

 

CHAPTER 4

 

            The next farm Dad rented was one owned by Dick Bieman. It was down in the Bear Swamp section of Oconee County and was the first place we lived that we didn't attend Oak Grove School. Some of our neighbors were Shorty and Ethel Barnes and the Lewis Capps family.

            The land there was a lot different from the land we had tended at Barnetts. The land for planting cotton was on a hillside, but we had bottomland down near the creek for planting corn. I always had to carry the fertilizer in a 5-gallon bucket to put in the distributer to fertilize the rows. Maggie always had the excuse that it broke her hands out. She would help with the hoeing but everywhere we lived I had to take care of the fertilizer.

            One winter while we lived there it came a real big snow. I remember Dad taking a long stick and killing some rabbits while they were in their beds. They would be so cold they couldn't jump up and run.

            The old house we lived in was high off the ground and the cold wind would come through the cracks in the floor and you couldn't stay warm.

            There was a well on the porch at the side of the house so we didn't have to carry water. That was a blessing.

            There was a big Holly tree by the tool building and we decorated the house with Holly for Christmas. That's all we had.

            We had a big white bulldog named Nell and Dad got Mary a cute little dog and she named it Dinah. One day it was playing with Mary –it ran in the fireplace and singed all its hair off but it didn't hurt it. It would try to bite her hand and she would say "Don't bite me, honey, this is Mary."

            There was a big flat rock in the front yard and Mary would take some old pieces of glass and pretend to set the table. Daddy was watching her but she didn't know it. She said Baby you eat here and Baby you eat here. Then she picked up one of the pieces of glass and threw it away and said, Baby you just can't eat.

            Our bulldog would sit on the top doorstep every time anyone came to our house and she would stick out her paw to shake hands. If you did not shake its paw she would not let you pass. When our friends came to play with us we had to fasten her in the tool building. She was very protective of us children and if you touched one of us she would bite you.

            That spring I wanted to plant me a little garden. Mama and Daddy wouldn't let me use one of the good hoes. I found an old hoe and went to the woods and cut me a small pine tree. Then I took the hammer and drove the hoe in the largest end of the pine. That's what I used to work my garden with. When I finished hoeing I would lean it against the back of the house until I needed it again.

            One day Ralph Smith came down to our house for something and he saw it there ––he said,  "Mr. Kelley, I sure would like to have the blueprint of that hoe handle".

            We had to walk to school. The name of the school was Blue Ridge. One day we were walking along and playing and Maggie said We've got a bob-tailed bulldog. W.T. Harris said that ain't nothing – we've got a long tailed redbone hound. There was never a dull moment. Something was going on all the time.

            The schoolhouse was a white building at the top of a long hill. There was a well in the yard and that's where we got our water. We didn't have a water cooler, just an old galvanized bucket and dipper over in the corner of the room on a table.

            I was in the 5th grade and Mrs. Lee was our teacher. There was 4 rooms and a hallway. Teachers were Helen Barrett, Gertrude Lusk, Mrs. Lee and one other teacher. Mr. Garve Barker was one of the trustees. He lived across the road from the school.

            Mrs. Lee did not have any discipline in her room. Most of the time it was pure chaos. The boys were large for their age and they only came to school to have a big time. They would do anything to keep from having the lessons.

            We had a big stove in the corner to heat the room with. One day the boys brought packs of firecrackers to school and threw them in the stove. It blew the pipe loose at the top of the stove and there was so much smoke and soot, they had to send us home.

            One day the boys took up all the waste paper they could find and put it in a desk that had a ink well in it. They struck a match and lit the paper. The blaze would almost reach the ceiling. As I said earlier about the water bucket in the corner of the room, the boys knew Mrs. Lee would run for the water bucket so they had made sure one of the boys would get there at the same time. They would grab one side of the bucket and she would grab the other side. They would spill the water and the desk would burn up before someone could go to the well to draw more.

            My desk was behind Sam McDonald's. We were reading the lesson one day and Sam got down over his book and all he said was "skip it, skip it, skip it." Then Mrs. Lee would say– alright – next read. I didn't know where to start but there was so much noise going on until it didn't matter where you started.

            Soon after that the trustees decided to pay Mrs. Lee her years salary to get her out of there. They let her go and brought in a Mr. Whitmire and he straightened those boys out. I never learned anything at that school.

            We had fair crops that year but after the tops were cut and stacked and the fodder pulled, we hauled the cotton to the gin and got our usual pair of shoes for the year.

 

 

CHAPTER 5

 

            Shortly after this Dad got in with the Neville brothers. They sold him a pair of mules and a wagon. The mules' names were Tom and Frank.

            The Nevilles had a big two story house above Burns Mill. They wanted us to move there and plant crops for them. This house had not been lived in for years and was all grown over with briars and bushes, but we cut all that and tried to make the place livable. We were not there long enough to plant a crop but while we were there we went to Ebenezer School and this is the only time we ever had to ride a bus, but I did finish the 5th grade while we were there.

            The Nevilles wanted us to move to a bigger farm up on White Cut. This place was overgrown with rambling roses, bushes and briars. We got it cleaned up and moved in.

            Otto and Mary were not big enough to help us a lot, but they did what they could.

            This house had a front porch that we enjoyed if we had any spare time.

            There was a big barn and a pasture for the cows and mules. There was a corncrib and a tool shed on the side of the crib.

            The well was quite a distance from the house and Mama put her washtubs, battling block and wash pot closer to the well so we wouldn't have to carry the water too far.

            The house had 2 big rooms with a smaller room near the kitchen. It had a hallway to the back porch and a real long room for the kitchen and dining room. The cook stove was at the fartherest end of the kitchen. We never did have much furniture because when you work as share croppers you don't want too much to move. We had a big long table and some straight chairs, beds, and just bare necessities. We slept on straw ticks for years before we ever got mattresses. There was a storm pit on the left side of the house that had lots of spiders in it. If it rained very much the bottom would fill with water. It was not very useful.

            Our neighbors were Bill and Emma King, Joe and Anne Slater and Mr. and Mrs. B.F. Crumpton and a man by the name of Dee Glouse.

            We walked and went to Fairfield School and my what a difference it was from Blue Ridge that we had previously attended.

            Mr. W.C. Lyle was the 6th and 7th grade teacher. The other teachers were Mrs. Lela Earle and Helen and Gertrude Barker.

            There was not a lot of traffic on the road where we lived, only the mail carrier Mr. Norman Whitten and an occasional car going up to the Crumptons to buy apples.

            The land on this farm was real good and I remember picking up arrowheads while I was carrying the fertilizer for Dad to put in the cotton rows. I picked up quite a few and put them in a pile by the side of the tool shed. I don't know what happened to them as I was at Tamassee School when the family moved away.

            Dad had a sled that he used to haul sacks of fertilizer out to the field – but if he had a lot to carry we would load it on the wagon and I would help him load it.

            The Nevilles gave Dad permission to cut wood for the fireplace and cook stove. I had to help pull the crosscut saw as Otto was not big enough or strong enough to pull his share, but he and Mary would load the wagon with the wood so we could haul it to the house.

            Dad took a 10 x 2 plank and a railroad spike and made us a Flying Jenny. Two of us would get on each end of the plank and the others would push to spin it around. It would be going so fast it would make you dizzy until you could not stand up when you got off. You would have to lay on the grass until you were able to stand up. This is where we played after the chores were finished.

            We were hoeing cotton and Maggie and I were propping on our hoe handles. Dad said kids stop counting the birds flying over and get to work–if you sweat one drop save it for it will cure any kind of disease. He didn't want us fooling around.

            We always had cows, hogs, and chickens everywhere we lived, but on this farm we also had guineas and we found out they never made their nest close to the house or any of the other buildings. They all laid their eggs in the same nest. One day out in the field we found their nest and a bull snake had swallowed some of the eggs. That was a sight to see – those eggs in that snake. Dad killed the snake and the guineas moved their nest to another place.

            Every time we moved to another farm, we would have to go back at night to get the chickens. We would catch them while they were roosting. You couldn't catch them during the day.

 

            Share cropping is a real hard life, but they say it builds character.

            We always had good gardens and canned a lot of vegetables to get us through the winter.

            While we lived here the agriculture program of Walhalla sent a lady out to help us. She taught us to can with a pressure cooker which saved a lot of time. Her name was Sadie Kirksey. She was very smart and helped Mama in so many ways. Canning in a hot water bath takes a long time, but the pressure cooker saved time.

            This is where we lived when Sadie was born on April 25th, 1942. Mama liked Mrs. Kirksey so much that she named Sadie after her.

            One of the things I disliked about farming was side dressing the corn. It was always sweltering hot and it seemed no air could get between those rows of corn. We would put the soda nitrate in a burlap apron and drop it by the handful along the rows.

            This material also made Maggie's hand break out so she got out of doing this job.

            In the fall when it was time to pick the cotton, we used large burlap sheets to put the cotton on. Then it was hauled to the crib and weighed. Later it was hauled to the gin in Walhalla.

            One day we had loaded the cotton on the wagon and Dad was sitting on top of it. The mules ran away – old Tom was always easy to get frightened at the least thing and this time Dad could not control them. He was thrown off into a ditch and was injured pretty bad but Mama and I got him up and carried him to the house. He finally got better. That was a scary time.

            Mr. King got the mules and brought them back to the barn, got the cotton up and put it in the crib until Dad could take it to the gin.

            We always had good crops while we lived there, and we enjoyed living there. The house was one of the best ones we had lived in, and we loved it there.

 

            Pearl Harbor was bombed on Dec. 7, 1941 and that put the United States in the war. Hitler was marching through Europe trying to conquer the world. They were drafting men and women into the services, but I remember Dad saying he wouldn't have to go as he was crippled, but he laughed and said, "They may use me for gun wadding."

            When Sadie was born this made 5 of us in the family – Maggie, Pauline, Otto, Mary and Sadie.

 

            We continued going to Fairfield School until Maggie and I finished the 7th grade. Dad said we would not be able to go to High School at Walhalla. We would have to walk almost 2 miles to catch the bus. He said he could not afford the books and clothes in order for us to attend.

            Mrs. Kirksey told Dad we would be unable to make a good life without a High School education. She asked him to let her see what she could do about getting us in the Tamassee D.A.R School which was a boarding school. Dad agreed and she talked to Dr. Ralph Cain who was administrator of the school at that time. She said we could work at the school and pay our tuition. She got us enrolled to go to school that fall.

 

            Before we left for school in late August, there was a revival meeting being held the first two weeks in August at Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church. Mr. Crumpton's two daughters, Viola and Elizabeth, stopped by our house and invited us to go with them to the revival. There was no church close by so we hadn't been going to church. We persuaded Mama and Dad to let us go. The first night I felt like I ought to go to the altar but I couldn't go.

            On the way home I told myself if the girls invite us to go another night I would go to the altar. Sure enough when they stopped to let us out they invited us to go the next night.

            That night at church I tried to hold on to the back of the bench but the Spirit urged me so strong that I ran down the aisle and knelt at the altar and asked the Lord to come into my heart and life has never been the same since that day. Maggie also gave her heart to the Lord and we were baptized in a pool in Mrs. William's pasture.

            It sure was hard for us to leave home, but Dad and Mrs. Kirksey carried us to Tamassee. I got awful home sick but I finally got over it. We started 8th grade and I stayed there until I finished High School. This was during the war years. The work was different from the type of work we had been used to, but we learned to love the work and the people.

            That's where I met my husband, Ernest Cannon.

            I was there all the war years but Maggie left in the 10th grade.

            On April 12, 1945 President Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Ga. That was a sad time at the school. Harry Truman became president of the U.S and it wasn't long before the war was over.

 

            Meanwhile the Neville brothers decided to plant pine seedlings on their land instead of renting it out to share croppers. They said it was more profitable.

 

 

CHAPTER 6

 

            Dad rented a farm on Coffee Road from Mr. Ted Snyder and moved the family there. Otto and Mary were big enough to help Mom and Dad work the fields.

            I did not help much on this farm as I was away at school, but I did come home occasionally and help. They had planted some watermelons in the skips of the cotton rows and when we would come across a watermelon we would break it open and eat it.

            I remember picking some cotton on the land where later Mr. Dennis Hamby built his house.

            The neighbors there were the Waldreps, Cliff and Gladys Reid and the Grover Smith family.

            Our house was on Coffee Road and the Waldreps lived across White Fork branch on Stribling Shoals Road. We walked to church together. They were great friends of ours.

 

            Dad said Mr. Snyder was one of the nicest men he rented from.

 

            When the family moved from White Cut, Dad took the 10 x 2 board with him and made the kids a see-saw out near the barn for them to play on.

            I finished high school in May 1946 and rode the bus home. I lived there until I married on April 16th, 1947.

            The house we lived in was one of our best houses – we had a well on the back porch, a kitchen and dining room, a living room, 3 bedrooms and two open fireplaces back to back, one in the living room and one in the dining room. This is how we heated the house.

            Sadie was about 2 years old when we moved there. One day she was playing in the back yard and Dad was watching her. She said, "Annie has got the belly ache." (Annie was our cow). Dad asked her how do you know Annie has the belly ache" she said well somebody has got it.

            We had a hen that made a nest in a briar patch and Sadie told Daddy the hen was going to get stuck and he asked her how did she know. She said because she has got a nest in the briar patch.

            Dad still had old Tom and Frank his pair of mules. Frank was gentle but Tom was always skittish. He would get spooked and run away real easy. Dad decided to trade him for another gentle mule. He got a brown mule named Bill.

            Bill and Frank were the last pair of mules he owned.

            Johnny was born while we lived there. He was born on Mother's day, May 13, 1945 and was the only one born in the hospital. All the rest of us were born at home. That made 6 children – Maggie, Pauline, Otto, Mary, Sadie and Johnny!

            God had been real good to us, although we had worked very hard to stay alive and grow up, especially Maggie and me.

            We had gone full circle in Oconee County. Now the children were back in Oak Grove School. One day Mary was in a hurry to get dressed to go to school. She was wearing a pinafore and just slid it on her shoulder and put her other clothes over the top of it. She ran to catch the bus. When she got to school that morning she started to run up the steps to go in and her pinafore fell down around her feet. All the kids laughed at her. She was so embarrassed.

            They had a lunch program at school and Mrs. Barnett was one of the teachers. She tried to make Otto eat some English peas but he would not. She said I am going to sit here until you eat at least one of those peas. He told her his Mama couldn't make him eat peas and neither could she. She finally had to give up and let him go on to his room.

            Otto got a bicycle and he and Mary learned to ride it so they had lots of fun with it.

            Sadie was a stubborn little girl and wanted to do whatever she wanted. One day she got off the bus at my uncles house and Mama had to go hunt her. She whipped her all the way back to the house. The next morning Mama met the school bus at the road and told Mr. George Reid never to let her off the bus except at our house.

 

            One time when I came home from school I showed Mary and Sadie how to make them a play well. I took an old bucket and dug a hole and put the bucket in it – made a windless out of a wire and spools, took two sticks that had forks in them, put a little rope on the spool so they could draw water. I showed them how to make mud pies for sandwiches. We had to make our own playthings. There was no money to buy toys.

 

            All our clothes were hand me downs from other people but we never had to go naked or hungry. Our food was not the best but we always had enough.

 

            We had a hound dog at this house, named Jim. Sadie would pretend he was her baby and she would say come here, honey, and let me clean your nose. She had lots of fun playing with that dog. She would put her booties on his feet and he would pull them off.

            One time on Grandpa's birthday which was the 10th of Dec. Otto, Mary and Sadie went down to the creek and waded in that icy water but it never made them sick.

 

            When Sadie had the measles Dad had to sit by her bed with a switch to keep her in bed.

 

            Every year they would grow cabbages to make kraut for the winter. Sadie would always call it cap. She loved kraut in a biscuit and she would say – I want my cap in a biscuit.

            Mr. Snyder decided to sell this land to El Pelfrey and Dad and Mom had to move. Dad started working for Cliff Reid cutting and sawing timber. He moved in Thomas Smith's house for a while then he moved in one of Cliff Reid's houses.

            Every Sunday afternoon Dad liked to get him a broom straw and tickle the cats feet while they were laying on the porch asleep in the sun. They would kick their feet and Dad had the most fun teasing them. One day he took some small match boxes and put them on their feet and laughed at them as they tried to walk.

 

            Mama let Johnny go without his shirt one summer and when she would make him wear a shirt to church he would squirm and say, "I'm hot," so after that she would not let him go without his shirt.

 

            This was the end of share cropping as everyone wanted to use the land for planting pine seedlings. There was more money in pulpwood than there was in regular farming. Time marches on and things change and I suppose we have to go along with it.

 

            As I look back over my life sometimes I wonder how I made it this far but I know the Lord has been with me all the way. Had it not been for the Lord on my side – where oh where would I be.

            I thank God for all the things he has brought me through and I would not change a thing, although I worked hard all my life.

 

P.S. We started out in the Five Forks section of Oconee County and finished up in the same area. As I said earlier we had come full circle, but I left a lot of footprints along the way.

 

Pauline Kelley Cannon

 

September 27, 2010

Walhalla, S.C.

 

 

      

      

      

 

       Continue to --> 10-b My Life at Tamasse D.A.R.
      Return to     --> Walhalla Raconteurs
      Return to     --> www.walhalla.co

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments