We were sometimes caught in one of these famous (or infamous) “northers” – really a winter storm—on our way to or from school. Ralph, Harry and I started to school when we lived in North Texas. I was six years old then. We had to walk the two miles to school and then two miles home after school. Dutch didn’t start to school until after we moved to Uvalde.
There were no school buses then, and no cars—or bicycles.
It is very cold in the wintertime in North Texas—and very hot in the summertime.
The roads—they were not highways—were unpaved. The soil was black—and wagon wheels cut deep ruts in the muddy roads.
In Winter the ground froze and the walking was difficult.
When we were caught in one of these “blue Northers” or a snowstorm—and it snowed a great deal—we had to hold each other’s hands to keep from getting separated and lost in the storm. Sometimes our feet got so cold they were so numb we could hardly walk—and our hands really were numb—and how they hurt when we did get to school or home, it was unbearable to get near a fire.
We had to first “warm” them by holding them in cold water, and someone rubbing them to get the blood circulating.
School didn’t close until 4:p.m. and the days were short in Winter, so by thy time we walked the two miles home it was dark.
We had to get up before daylight, and leave the house right after daylight to get to school on time in the mornings, and those mornings were bitter cold, below zero, often snowing.
Some children had to walk a longer distance than we did and by the time they got to school they were so cold they would be crying from the pain of their half-frozen feet and hands.
I’ve never had too much fondness for cold or snow since then.
In the summer time it was very hot and humid—the nights almost as hot as the days. We used to sit on the front porch until almost midnight, since the house was so hot. On the nights when Old Man Cole didn’t come up to our house, and listen to the whip-poor-will calling from the wooded hill across the fields. Often it was very stormy and we were afraid a tornado would strike—and often when we did go to bed, we had to get up and make a run for the storm cellar.
And, in late summer and early fall, Mother would be canning fruits and vegetables and making jams and jellies. Of course, no one had air conditioning then. We had one of those huge cast-iron cookstoves that burned wood—and it really heated up the house.
t was my chore to pick the garden produce—peas, beans, tomatoes, etc. for canning. And, what I dreaded the most—the Blackberries and Raspberries—the stems of the vines were covered with sharp thorns. The only gloves I had were knitted wool ones—no protection from the thorns.
Dutch was two years younger than me and was never required to do any chores as she was too young. Ralph and Harry had other chores to do, so didn’t have time to help me.
All the canned fruits and vegetables, being in glass jars and liable to freezing and breaking in Winter, were stored in the storm cellar. It was lined with shelves.
Everyone raised hogs for winter meat and sausage, so the “smokehouse” was where the meats were stored. Everyone had a smokehouse—it was so called because the hams, slabs of bacon, etc. were hung from the rafters and hickory wood chips burned to “cure” the meat so it would keep through the winter.
So, food was plentiful. We had all kinds of canned fruits and vegetables, meats, milk, butter and eggs. There were lots of chores, and work, but it was worth it.
In the Fall, Mother and Grandma made enough soap to last all year.
It was made in a huge cast-iron kettle, out in the yard.
This same big kettle was used to heat water for washing clothes.
No one had washing machines—clothes were washed on a “rub-board.”