Camping, the early years….
Camping, the early years….
Every summer when I was a young boy my family went camping..Papa had a pair of mules, old Jake and Dan………
When all the crops had been laid by and there was no more weeds to pull and cotton to chop we would load up a two horse wagon and hitch them mules to it and off we would go
Of course there was more to in than just going…We took feather bed mattresses and a pen of live chickens, plenty of eggs and flower….The only way to keep fresh chicken was to keep it alive until the day we were going to eat it …Then there was Sister Bessie, our cow…Sister Bessie had to be milked every day anyway so we took her too…It was my job to walk her down to the campground, letting her stop at every patch of green grass on the way…and get a little bite to eat…
We wrung a chicken’s neck every day and had fried chicken, peas or butterbeans and squash that Mom had canned the year before….Papa always killed a couple of hogs in the fall and we cured most of the meat in a huge salt box and smoke house so preserving it wasn’t a problem….We let the milk down in the big open well at the campground in jugs to keep it cool…..We made our own butter from the cream that rose to the top after it cooled over night in the well…After the cream was skimmed off the top of the milk the rest of the milk was discarded, it was called “blue jon” and was not considered fit to drink…..now days it’s sold as 0% fat free milk…..Biscuits were made three times a day from the flower and lard we got from the hog killing… A chicken was fried every day at lunch because we never knew when the Preacher would stop by for a meal….Everybody knew the Preacher liked chicken…..
The campground was a place of religious retreat only that wasn’t what it was called, It was simply known as campmeeting….Our family had a Tent…..The tent was built out of rough lumber and covered with tin and slabs from the sawmill…It had 8 bedrooms and a cook house separate from the rest of it……Wooden windows and wood shavings adorned the floor……Mosquitos, gnats and flies were always present….There was about 25 of these Tents erected there…. Every family for miles around had built one
The nightly meetings were lively to say the least….I didn’t know at the time but part of the reason they were “lively” was because Uncle Reecy sold a little moonshine whisky out the back room of his Tent…..The Ice man brought 100 pound blocks of ice every day and we buried them in a huge sawdust pile out back to keep them from melting…Uncle Reecy always sold Coke-cola out of a number 3 washtub filled with ice out back of his Tent…He sold it straight or mixed with moonshine, any strength you wanted….
At nite the music echoed across the swamps and hills and it was awesome…..The preacher always started off talking bout Hell and how it was a place you would go if you were bad and ended up talking bout Heaven, a place you would go after all the hardships and pain of this life was over…..One nite Mom had really got into the spirit and collapsed on the sawdust floor screaming and hollering…..I thought she was having a seizure but Papa said she was just “in the spirit”, well it sorta scared Papas mules… And me too...... They were tied up outside the Tent and got to snort’in and stomping and broke loose and went running up across the graveyard, turning over toomstones and breaking wagon wheels……Papa said they were having a fine meet’in……