By Joyce Caughron Rhodes
Most people live in either the city, small towns and communities or the country. I started out in the big city of St. Louis. In my neighborhood, it was blessed with many apartment building, children everywhere and concrete. Concrete everywhere. My parents received information that my great grandmotherís house in Obion, Tennessee was for sale. In a short time we settled in that house. We had about a two acre lot with grass, a yard full of big trees and a large barn, over to the side. We were the last house in the city limits. I made friends with a girl, Betty Taylor, who lived down a dirt road, about a quarter of a mile from my house, but she was in the country. I learned all about country living from her and her family. Mr. Taylor really had patience with me. One day Betty and I were sitting on the rail fence around the pig pen, waiting to see her daddy feed the pigs. He came out with a large bucket, filled to the top. The odor was was not good, in fact it was awful. He tossed the contents over the rail and the hogs came running, grunting, snorting and squealing as they gobbled up the feast. I found out later that this was called slop.
Whenever I was bored, I went to the Taylors. They had a very large chicken house and Mr. Taylor would let me gather the eggs for him, of course Betty joined me. It was like a treasure hunt.
One day while I was there, he was milking a cow. He and the cow were both near the rail fence, so Betty and I climbed on the fence, to watch the show. He was milking away, what I considered to be a large milk bag with handles on it. The sound of the milk hitting the bucket, made a rhythm sound, as if he were playing a tune. He hollowed, ìJoyce, open your mouth and Iíll let you have some milk,î so I did. Well, to my surprise, he aimed one of the handles in my direction and my mouth and face were filled with milk. It did taste good.
I remember when Mrs. Taylor was churning, making butter. She said, ìJoyce, would you like to churn?î Of course, I was all for it. I did enjoy it for awhile, until my arms got tired. I found it interesting to see her use a butter press and stamp a design on the top of her mold of butter.
One more thing I need to tell you about my country living experience. It was the fall of the year and Mr. Taylor was picking cotton and he had hands in his field with long cotton sacks, hats and bonnets, picking fast. I asked Mr. Taylor if I could pick a hundred pounds of cotton. He just looked at me and said, ìYeah, you go pick a hundred pounds î and just laughed. I knew then that he was making fun of me, thinking there was no way I was going to pick a hundred pounds. I thought, ìyou shouldnít have laughed.î I held the cotton bowls and picked with one hand. I didnít have a large sack, so I had to go to the scales a lot. The scales were like a tall tripod, with the scale hanging in the middle. Well, with the light of the moon and about 8:00 that night, I finished my 100 pounds. With aching back and bloody sore hands, I showed Mr. Taylor, I could pick a 100 pounds.