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Tag Archives: Shelbyville

Our Spring Gardens

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PLANT THREE ROWS OF PEAS:
Peace of mind
Peace of heart
Peace of soul

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PLANT FOUR ROWS OF SQUASH:
Squash gossip
Squash indifference
Squash grumbling
Squash selfishness

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PLANT FOUR ROWS OF LETTUCE:
Lettuce be faithful
Lettuce be kind
Lettuce be patient
Lettuce really love one another

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NO GARDEN IS WITHOUT TURNIPS:
Turnip for meetings
Turnip for service
Turnip to help one another

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TO CONCLUDE OUR GARDEN WE MUST HAVE THYME:
Thyme for each other
Thyme for family
Thyme for friends

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Water freely with patience and cultivate with love. There is much fruit in your garden because you reap what you sow. ~Unknown

Whether it is a flower garden or a vegetable garden, they both require hard work to flourish. My grandmother Lulu always had a vegetable garden on Mirror Lake Farm in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Her family and friends ate from its bounty all year long. A ginormous freezer chest in her basement was full at the end of the summer and ready to fill up again in the spring. Besides freezing the vegetables, the sleeping porch was full of Mason jars, always within hands-reach. Even into her 80’s, she worked a smaller plot.

The phrase “garden to table” was not used when Lulu was living, but that was the way she lived. It was her lifestyle.

In the late 1920’s, when she was twenty-eight and the mother of two boys and a daughter, Lulu and my grandfather moved to the farm on Mt. Eden Road. While the two-story farm house was built, they lived in the garage. This wooden building was basically one room. She washed dishes and clothes in a tin tub and cooked on a wood stove. There was a porcelain tub for bathing, and water came from the well. Every day, she fed the workers who built her home. She kept a coffee pot full and made biscuits each day to fill them up.

With all this going on every day, she was active in their church and home schooled her children. Lucile Hitt Collins was a generous, Southern lady, who had the gift of hospitality.

I believe Lulu knew what the above poem is talking about. Her own garden of daily living was an unselfish one, and she gave of her time to make the lives of others better. All through her life, I saw her taking joy from the flowers and vegetables in her garden. Every year, toward the end of February or the first of March, she would call my mom to tell her that the daffodils were finally blooming. Winters in that part of Kentucky sometimes isolated her from her friends and the town, so a sign of spring was time to celebrate. Those daffodils spoke joy and warmth to her.

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So what shall I plant in my daily garden? What about you?

As Roy. T. Bennett said, ““Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”

 

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Stringing a Package

Christmas memories seemed to be flooding my heart and mind today.

One of them is about the packages Lulu/Daddy’s mother used to send us from Mirror Lake Farm in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Lulu was quite the cook, and she sent two of her backed goods to Daddy.

She made salt rising bread. She wrapped it in cheesecloth or a worn dish towel. Then she placed it in a box, wrapped it in brown paper, and tied it with string. She usually used old shoe boxes for the mailing. Buttered, toasted in the oven, and smeared with Mother’s homemade preserves, it was delicious.

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This looks like the small loaves she used to send.
Slicing thin slices, it would usually last two meals for the four of us.
Enjoyed by Appalachia families, this dense, white bread uses a starter with no yeast. The distinctive smell (a little stinky) is not a pleasant one, but the taste is golden. Some say the smell is “cheesy.” Tracing its history, this recipe appears to be totally American, becoming popular during the nineteenth century.

The origins of the name are also unclear. One explanation is that pioneer women who crossed the country kept their starter dough warm in the salt barrel, kept atop the wagon wheel. By day the sun would warm the salt, which would warm the starter. The bread could be made in the evening.

Of course, when we visited the farm, there was always a loaf or two in her bread box

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https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/salt-rising-bread-recipe can give you the recipe.

Another of Lulu’s specialties that Daddy received before Christmas was fruit cake. Loaded with dried fruit and soaked in Bourbon, it was also fragrant. I can’t tell you much about the taste, because fruit cake is not my favorite. The many raisins turned, and still turn, me away from this holiday favorite.

But these baked gifts were a taste of home, and there was plenty of excitement when they arrived.

Just as Lulu’s packages arrived in brown paper, Daddy also would string his packages for mailing. String, scissors, tape, and brown paper were required.

He would clear the kitchen table, pack the boxes, and start wrapping. The process was much like wrapping a package for mailing today, except for the string. To begin with, string was tied, knotted, and clipped short horizontally around the box, and then vertically. Critt and I held our small fingers on the loops for Daddy to knot them. He always tied the package with two more strings to be sure it wouldn’t open in transit. Then assorted labels were added to help the mailman: Fragile Handle with Care, Do Not Bend, Do Not Crush, Handle with Care, This Side Up. Since these labels were red, they were like decorations on that brown paper.

Soon there was a stack of brown paper packages on the kitchen table. As with everything he did, Daddy was meticulous. The string had to be straight and was usually adjusted several times. Celebrating a completed job that showed how much he cared for his mother, a cup of coffee was always next.

Oh, how I wish I could help him with wrapping some presents today. So thankful for the memories and the way I was taught by example to do even the little things to the best of my ability.  Looking back, I realize he tied up those packages with love, not string. Thank you, Daddy!

Merry Christmas…

 

Bury the Past? Oh, No!

My grandmother, Lulu, loved history, and she shared its stories often. As a card-carrying member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Colonial Dames, and the Magna Charta Dames, she was proud of her heritage. As a former teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Kentucky, she never lost her love for learning. As a former home school teacher of her three sons and daughter, she put their education on a firm footing in their early years on Mirror Lake Farm, outside of Shelbyville, Kentucky.

When she wasn’t reading, she was writing. Her book shelves were full of history’s stories, both fact and fiction. She regularly visited the Shelbyville Library, attended her monthly book club meetings, worked as a reporter for the local paper, researched family history in neighboring counties, and wrote multitudinous letters to family and friends inquiring about their histories.

Carrying pads and pencils, she spent hours in the NSDAR Library while visiting with her oldest son in Washington, DC. She was an extraordinary researcher and never gave up on finding the truth, even if it meant chasing rabbits. She said she smiled when she walked into this library.

Born on May 17, 1896, in Woodford County, Kentucky, she never lived in any other state. Her imaginative travels to other places in the past would have made for good reading. She described them as if she had been there.

Whether it was the Hitt family traveling by raft down the Kentucky River to escape the Indians or Jesse James on a lathered horse, running from the law, the escapades were never dull.

And, yes, he is a relative I will tell you about another day.

 

As a retired teacher myself, I find it fascinating that my grandmother taught in a one-room school. For three years, she lived one month with a family and then another throughout the school year. This was part of her pay, free room and board, and the town shared the expense. Lulu took her packed pail to school, just like her students. Wood for the stove was donated, but it was her job to lay the fire for the day during the winter. She had various numbers of students throughout the year, since school attendance was governed by the crop season. Grades 1-8 worked at the same time in the same small room; it must have been bedlam at times with all the recitations.

This teacher and lover of books became the wife of a future farmer when she married Wallace C. Collins. Moving from Louisville to Shelbyville, she cooked over an open fire while their farmhouse was being built. The family lived in the garage until then.

As the Collins family increased, so did the work for Lulu. She made her own butter and bread and canned and froze vegetables from her garden. Rising at 4:00 each morning, she fixed breakfast for the family and any workers that were there. My dad often spoke of the biscuits, gravy, potatoes, bacon, sausage, and eggs that were a staple.

On Wallace and Lucile’s 25th wedding anniversary in 1943, Wallace died. At age 47, Lulu took over running their tobacco and dairy farm on Mt. Eden Road. During this time, the tobacco make the farm payments to the bank, and the cows paid the other bills. Both were necessary to make ends meet, and Lulu never faltered.

When we visited every summer, it was a unique experience from our city life. We always went in June, and I slept in my aunt’s bedroom. Roosters woke us up, and the mooing of cows headed to their pasture from the barn was the breakfast music. Several times a day neighboring peacocks visited and added their raucous noises to all within hearing distance.

It was like time stopped for me there. The agenda was loose, and the days were lazy. We went to the Shelbyville County fair, visited relatives, and checked out the horse farms. I read to my heart’s content and listened to the tales of yesterday. The cadence of the voices was mesmerizing, as both nostalgia and excitement peppered the stories.

Oh, how I wish I could remember more. Bury the past? Oh, no!