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Uncle Cling

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Cling Ingle was born in 1877 in Yancey, North Carolina and raised on Unaka Mountain in Tennessee. As an adult, he bought this land in the Blue Ridge Mountains. There was a foot path to this holler and a foot log across his creek. Walking was the mode of transportation.

Roan Highlands from Yellow Mountain Gap

Raising hogs, chickens, and goats put meat on the table. A cow or two provided milk and butter. In the garden were rows and hills of corn, snap beans, okra, squash, turnips, rhubarb, butter beans, melons, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Year-round hunting with a musket added to the fixings with deer, rabbit, squirrels, turkeys, pheasants, and grouse. Along with the hunting, the men and boys fished for mountain trout and perch. The main sweetener was sour wood honey from a couple of bee hives; it was called long sweetening. Strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries grew wild and were picked by all.

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Cotton provided first the thread and then clothes for the family. A spinning wheel and then a loom helped Cling’s five wives create the cloth.

Uncle Cling buried five wives and some children; they all drowned in floods. He lived in the days before Tennessee Valley Authority/TVA built dams and water reservoirs to control the water.

Besides keeping up with his home place, Cling worked as a brakeman on the CC& O railroad. His train traveled from Ohio to the train yard in Erwin, Tennessee, where the cars were shuffled to go off in different directions on separate rails. Cling’s run started in Erwin and ended up in Columbia, SC. Each car had a brake to slow it down if needed. Though small in stature, his arms were strong from cutting wood and had given his arm muscles the strength to handle an iron brake.

CSX 850 load coal south end Erwin yard

Every summer, he rode this same train to Union, South Carolina, to visit his brother Make who worked in the Union Mill. Cling stayed with Annie Mae and Roy Bobo, the daughter and son-in-law of Make. They owned a boarding house. The families would gather every evening to hear his stories; both children and adults were entertained by his holding court. Sipping on his home brew/cough medicine to “wet his whistle” broadened his story lines into funnier endings.

One year he bragged about his monthly check from the government. The US needed land to build a short-wave repeater to relay their communications over the mountains. They built a metal tower to hold the transmitter and the receiver; there was no supervisor. Cling liked the idea of the government paying him.

With his heavy eyebrows, large nose, and tight mouth, Thomas Clingham Ingle was a determined and self-sufficient man, but he had a kind heart and looked after his friends. Whether it was fire wood or a jar of honey, he was a good neighbor.

 

Lois Ingle – the Marksman

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Mom, as I called my mother-in-law Lois, had a good eye for hitting targets with her Remington 22 caliber rifle.

Living two miles from Union, South Carolina, the Ingle clan lived in the woods that only had access from a foot path. Clearing land had made lumber available for homes and places for gardens. But the animals that called this space of 80 acres home, bought by Make Ingle for himself and his children continued to claim ownership.

Foxes, snakes, and weasels plagued the chicken coops and their eggs. Squirrels and crows often ignored the scarecrows that were posted as guards.

Lois and her husband Oliver talked about the need of a weapon to protect the boys, their cousins, and their food. In today’s economy, the price of $7 means little, but this was a week’s salary in 1941 for a card grinder in the Union Mill. The rifle was bought.

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Mom’s 22 cal Remington rifle

Oliver made bullets for the rifle out of small pieces of used lead with a lead melter.

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Above is the picture of an antique melter that John says is similar like the original in the Ingle household. In the bottom is a place to add the gasoline for fuel. He used kitchen matches to light the gas.

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This is a picture of the process, and below is the small mold for two bullets.

vintage bullet mold.jpg

When the lead in the ladle/long handled dipper became liquid, then Oliver poured  it into the lead mold for bullets. Dipping the mold into a bucket of water caused steam and cooling. The last task was pressing the bullet into the shell.

As Tom and John grew, they helped their mom with target practice. Outside on the chopping block were cuts made by an ax to cut the wood for the stove and the fireplace. The boys would stick kitchen matches in the cuts, and Lois would light them by firing a bullet that grazed the tip of the matches.

Lois was a woman of many talents. I admired her. This photo of her as a teenager certainly gives no inkling of the marksman she would become, does it?

Lois 4.jpg

Lois Ingle – the Marksman

Posted on

Mom, as I called my mother-in-law Lois, had a good eye for hitting targets with her Remington 22 caliber rifle.

Living two miles from Union, South Carolina, the Ingle clan lived in the woods that only had access from a foot path. Clearing land had made lumber available for homes and places for gardens. But the animals that called this space of 80 acres home, bought by Make Ingle for himself and his children continued to claim ownership.

Foxes, snakes, and weasels plagued the chicken coops and their eggs. Squirrels and crows often ignored the scarecrows that were posted as guards.

Lois and her husband Oliver talked about the need of a weapon to protect the boys, their cousins, and their food. In today’s economy, the price of $7 means little, but this was a week’s salary in 1941 for a card grinder in the Union Mill. The rifle was bought.

Bolt Action_22 cal remington rifle.jpg

Mom’s 22 cal Remington rifle

Oliver made bullets for the rifle out of small pieces of used lead with a lead melter.

Antique-Otto-Bernz-Smelter-Lead-Melter-Complete-w-Crucible-RARE-V4477

Above is the picture of an antique melter that John says is similar like the original in the Ingle household. In the bottom is a place to add the gasoline for fuel. He used kitchen matches to light the gas.

 extra_bullets10.jpg
This is a picture of the process, and below is the small mold for two bullets.

vintage bullet mold.jpg

When the lead in the ladle/long handled dipper became liquid, then Oliver poured  it into the lead mold for bullets. Dipping the mold into a bucket of water caused steam and cooling. The last task was pressing the bullet into the shell.

As Tom and John grew, they helped their mom with target practice. Outside on the chopping block were cuts made by an ax to cut the wood for the stove and the fireplace. The boys would stick kitchen matches in the cuts, and Lois would light them by firing a bullet that grazed the tip of the matches.

Lois was a woman of many talents. I admired her. This photo of her as a teenager certainly gives no inkling of the marksman she would become, does it?

Lois 4.jpg

Yahoo to the New Book Cover of “Tales of a Cosmic Possum”

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Can I say this book cover wasn’t what I was expecting?Book Cover.jpg

But then I didn’t know what I was expecting either, and it is perfect for Tales of a Cosmic Possum.

My surprise was real, as I gazed at the mountain-blue nuances. The dark coolness of shades drew me into the Appalachian range where the Ingle family lived with its customs, food, and sayings that were once foreign to me.

When Make and Lizzie Ingle left Erwin, Tennessee, to work in Tucapau Mill in Startex, South Carolina, they left their open, mountain shelter behind for the clacking noises of cotton mill workers. Not far behind them, Amanda and John said good by to their hand-to-mouth struggle on a small, North Carolina farm in the hills and moved to the sweltering. work environment of Clifton Mill #2.

Neither the mountains or the farm land could support either family any longer. A weekly pay check was necessary for survival, and so they moved to the Upstate. These cotton mills, where they worked, changed their families’ lives for four generations.

Their stories show these unknown women as heroines. They all have fortitude, hardiness, and gumption, which they passed on to their children, because that is what Appalachian women do.

And, so the countdown begins until I hold my fifth book in my hands. Thank you, John, for sharing your family’s stories with me! It’s been another adventure.

Hand Crafts

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John and I spent part of this past Saturday in Belmont, SC. The Belmont Historical Society hosts an event every year to celebrate yesterday’s days.

On their property is a restored cotton mill house, that gave me the visual several years ago that helped me start writing Tales of a Cosmic Possum. It is set up to portray a 1935 typical home in a mill village.

Sharing their crafts was a basket weaver, a wood carver, a weaver, a tatter, an expert on crewel work, and three women playing old games for children.

Basket made from white oak

The wood carver’s work was exquisite. On display was a candle box, several plates and bowls of various sizes, a wooden egg, and trivets. When he retired at 55, his wife suggested he find a hobby. At age 83, he is still enjoying it. Using three major cuts, he has borrowed designs from old butter molds and Dresden lace embroidery patterns.

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We sold our books, and John had the opportunity to shoot his Kentucky rifle replica. A trio of singers and guitarists serenaded us, and the museum was open to visitors. Their period rooms started in the Revolutionary War and follow the history of Belton through World War II.

And, yes, as you know, I love handmade items and had to buy a few for gifts.

It was the tatter that caught my eye the longest, as I watched her walk around and tatt without losing a stitch. Tatting is a way to create knotted lace with a small shuttle. Irish immigrants brought this gift to America. Wearing collars of tatted lace, the women soon found that this was a source of extra money for them.

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Nanna, my grandmother, tatted. She made doilies and decorated the hems of dishcloths and pillow cases. I treasure some of her work, and I love for people to notice its beauty in my home.

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It seems I am being pushed away from my knitting and maybe to another typed of handwork. If you don’t do handwork, I would love to encourage you to try.

As Phyllis George said, “There is something soothing and satisfying to watch your own creation take shape. Crafts make us feel rooted, give us a sense of belonging and connect us with our history. Our ancestors used to create these crafts out of necessity, and now we do them for fun, to make money and to express ourselves.”

Riding the Rails During the Great Depression

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A hobo is a traveling worker who has little and is homeless. Unlike a “tramp”, who works only when forced to, and a “bum”, who does not  work at all. They carried their worldly goods in a bindle; this was their term for a bundle of bedding carried in a sack.

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During the Great Depression, people went across the country in search of work. But without a job, they didn’t have money to pay for transportation. The only way to get across the country, and potentially get the job, was riding the rails. This is how the hobos of the Great Depression lived from day-to-day.

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The above image illustrates the panic and reality that men faced in trying to feed themselves on the road and their families at home.

Sometimes families traveled together and made-do with camping along creek banks for a water source. They carried what they had with them, and often children had an essential to carry along.

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They had to think about food all the time. Finding it was a daily task, and they all knew it. Hobos developed a series of symbols in order to “talk” to each other, leaving messages so other hobos would get information. Friendly farms where they could find work and food were marked, as were the unfriendly farms where they would find neither.

John’s aunt Jenny Belle, who I write about in Tales of a Cosmic Possum, ran a boarding house in Union, South Carolina. Because of her kindness and proximity to the railroad, sometimes hobos stopped at her home. She always made sure they left her house with something to eat, even if she couldn’t help them any other way. If any farmers needed help, she would share that information with them, too.

In a list of thousands of men and women who rode the rails are names of many who later became famous –

  • Novelists Louis L’Amour, Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, and James Michener
  • Actor Clark Gable
  • TV host Art Linkletter
  • Oil billionaire H. L. Hunt
  • Journalist Eric Sevareid
  • Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

Teens struck out on their own for an adventurous life riding from one place to another.

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Unbelievable, but true, many hoboes attended the 1889 National Hobo Convention in St. Louis. The group constructed a strict ethical code for all hobos to follow. This is a partial listing of those rules.

1. YOU DO YOU.

“Decide your own life, don’t let another person run or rule you.”

2. SHOW SOME RESPECT.

“When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.”

3. DON’T BE AN OPPORTUNIST.

“Don’t take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hobos.”

4. GET A JOB.

“Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but ensure employment should you return to that town again.”

5. BE A SELF-STARTER.

“When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.”

6. SET A GOOD EXAMPLE.

“Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals’ treatment of other hobos.”

7. BE MINDFUL OF OTHERS.

“When jungling in town, respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as badly, if not worse than you.”

8. DON’T LITTER.

“Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling.”

9. LEND A HAND.

“If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help.”

10. PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE.

“Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.”

11. BE COURTEOUS WHEN YOU’RE RIDING THE RAILS …

“When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member.”

12. … AND WHEN YOU’RE NOT.

“Do not cause problems in a train yard, another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.”

13. HELP OUT THE KIDS.

“Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.”

14. SAME GOES FOR HOBOS.

“Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.”

15. LEND YOUR VOICE.

“If present at a hobo court and you have testimony, give it. Whether for or against the accused, your voice counts!

The hobo culture was amazing. Starting after the Civil War as people were displaced and continuing on until after WW II, this way of life appealed to some men, but for others it was a necessary choice. Even the danger of jumping on and off those trains couldn’t stop them from that leap.

I enjoyed finding out about hobos and their lives, but I know it would not have been one I would have chosen. But then Lulu, my grandmother, used to say “sometimes you do what you have to do.”

“I grew up poor. I never had any money. I was a hobo, you know, ride the freights.” Art Linkletter

Mill Hill Recipes from “Tales of a Cosmic Possum”

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Women in the mill hill villages depended on their own gardens, chickens, cows, pigs, as well as buying from the Company Store for their food. Fruit trees and pecan or walnut trees usually produced bounty to divide with neighbors. They freely shared with each other, and all had a kitchen specialty. Though they had little, the matriarchs made the best of what they had.
They cooked on a wood stove with light from the windows or kerosene lamps. Water was provided from a common well that several families shared. Wooden utensils stirred and turned food heating in cast iron skillets and bean pots (We have John’s mother’s/Lois.), and porcelain pots.
Meals were plain, uncomplicated, and similar. Any left overs were eaten at the next meal or fed to the animals. Drying and canning vegetables from summer and fall gardens improved winter diets. Nothing was wasted; even watermelon rinds were made into preserves. Though menus were sparse in variety, biscuits or cornbread topped with homemade butter and honey never grew old.

Here is  one.

Simple Slaw
Choose a solid and firm cabbage from your garden, and squeeze the cabbage head to check to see if it’s ready for the table or not. Cut the cabbage off the stem. Wash cabbage, and shake excess water out. Strike the bottom of cabbage down on table to loosen the core. Twist the core to remove. Cut the cabbage to slaw consistency with a very sharp knife. Add salt, pepper, and Duke’s mayonnaise to taste. (In 1917, this favorite was created by Mrs. Eugenia Duke at Duke’s Sandwich Shop in Greenville, SC.) Stir and serve this extra for Sunday dinner or when company was visiting.

Tales of a Cosmic Possum is just weeks from being published, and I am going to share some vignettes with you.

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