Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Virginia Folk Speech #2

We love to put "All" in front of words just like we like to add an "A" to some!

All-about (adv)--Scattered; in disorder.  "I found those toys scattered all-about the house."
All-alone (adv)--Quite alone.  "He is now living all-alone since his wife died."
All-along (adv)--Throughout; continually; from the beginning.  "Well, I have known that she was a spoiled brat all-along."
All-but (adv)--Almost.  "Have a little patience!  We are all-but there."
All-fours (noun)--To go on the hands and feet like an animal.  "Look at those kids running around like horses on all-fours.
All-over (adv)--In every part; everywhere; over the whole body.  "He is his father all-over!"  (He is exactly like his father.)
All sorts of (noun)--Expert; excellent; expert in many ways.  "She is all sorts of a good cook."
All-to (adv)--Excessively; out and out.  "That girl out played that boy all-to pieces."

Sunday, September 25, 2011

19th Century Chicken Salad

"Lee" Dominique rooster at Virginia's Explore Park, Roanoke, Virginia

Cut up the white parts of a cold chicken, season it with oil, or drawn butter, mustard, pepper, salt, and celery, chopped very fine, and a little vinegar.  Turkey salad is made in the same manner as above.
--Domestic Cookery, 1853

I have made this recipe many times.  For a modern day slant, I have used rotisserie chicken, both the dark & white meat.   Don't be afraid to give this one a try because there are no exact measurements!   Just start out with the chopped up chicken and slowly add small amounts of the various ingredients until it tastes good to you.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Folk Remedies #1


***Disclaimer:  I do not suggest trying any of these folk remedies.***

If you have a troublesome wart, steal someone's dishrag and bury it under a rock in a secret location.  When the dishrag rots, your wart will disappear.

If you have a headache, soak a piece of brown paper in vinegar and apply to forehead.

For insomnia, drink a tea made from catnip.

To cure an earache, blow tobacco smoke into the ear.

A person made mad by the bite of a mad-dog was smothered between feather beds to relieve him of his misery.

A potato carried in the pocket constantly, will cure rheumatism.  It all goes into the potato which will becomes dry and hard.

To stop bleeding, repeat Ezekiel 16:6 three times.  This could only be performed by someone who had the knowledge passed down to them.  Each person could only pass the knowledge down to one person.

To cure acne, wash your face in urine.

To rid yourself of worms, drink some turpentine.

To stop a nosebleed, put crushed yarrow in the nostril.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Folk Sayings #1

Black-Eyed Susan

As crooked as a dog's hind leg.  (My dad used this one all of the time.  "Whoever built that fence didn't know what they were doing.  It's as crooked as a dog's hind leg!"  Refers to anything that is crooked that should be straight.)

As cross as two sticks.  (Referring to anyone that is angry.)

She has a face that would stop a clock. (Used when someone is homely.)

Ugly as a mud fence. (Used when someone is homely.)

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. (It is easier to prevent a problem from occurring in the first place than to try to fix it afterwards.)

A rolling stone gathers no moss; but a stagnant pool stinks. (Most people have heard the first part of this saying, but the second part is rarely heard.)

A stitch in time saves nine. (My grandmother made most of my clothes, so I was always pestering her to hurry up and finish when she was making me a new garment.  This was often her response.)

A sore on the tip of the tongue is sign that you have told a lie.  (We always called them "lie bumps.")

A snake never dies till sundown. (I was always warned about getting to close to a snake that had just been killed because of this saying.)

As clear as mud. (Say this when something is very confusing.)

A whistling woman and a crowing hen never come to a good end. (I just love to whistle, so I have been told this many times!)

And the next is one of my favorites!

Savage as a meat axe.  (Referring to anyone or anything that is extremely savage, furious or ferocious.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mystery Item Answer--Mandoline

This is a mandoline or kraut cutter which is used to slice vegetables. 

 I used the one in the photo at the 1837 Hofauger House at Virginia's Explore Park in Roanoke, Virginia when I demonstrated fireplace cooking.  I used to tell visitors that it was the early "Veg-O-Matic!"

You might even have one in your kitchen right now, but it is probably made of plastic or metal.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Virginia Folk Speech #1

Blue Ridge Parkway near Fisher's Peak

I have been fascinated with the English language for years and especially the variations in regional dialects.  Sadly, since we are all exposed to so much media these days, regional differences are slowly fading away.   With this series of posts, I hope to preserve some of those differences.

Some of the words and sayings that I will be posting are from The Word Book of Virginia Folk Speech, 1899. Some will be sayings and words that I recall hearing and using.

"A"--Used before many words and it has the broad sound to it:
"Yes, you told me to it, so I'm a-doing it right now!"
"Don't get your knickers in such a twist, I'm a-coming right now!"
"I know that I have been putting it off, but I'm a-going to do it tomorrow."
"I'm a-running a tad late, but I will be there soon."
"The house is a-fire."

Abide  (verb)--endure, suffer.  "I just can't abide liver and onions."

Able (adj)--healthy.  "He is an able man, so he should be out working to support his family."

About (adv)--to be astir, be on the move; be attending to one's usual duties.  "It sure is good to be about after being so sick with pneumonia."

Above-board (adv)--Open, unconcealed.  "I don't mind doing business with him because he is always so above-board in his dealings."

Ache (verb)--to express intense desire, rather than pain.   "I am aching to move back to Meadows of Dan."

Agg (verb)--To raise a quarrel. I have also saw this spelled "egging".  "That fight broke out because he was just agging them on."

Aggravation (noun)--Provocation, irritation.  "Kimberly was a great aggravation to her mother when she was growing up."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Story of Lafayette Cocke

George Lafayette Cocke/Cox
My great great grandpa, George Lafayette Cocke (Cox) was born October 28, 1843 to Sarah Cocke in Laurel Fork, Carroll County, Virginia. He had nine brothers and sisters: Mariah, James Edward, Granville, Enoch, Gabriel, Ward, Sarah, Wava & John. Everyone always called him "Fate".   I suspect that Fate might have been a twin because in the 1850 census records, he and his brother, Granville are both listed as being 9 years old.

In 1861, war came to our nation. Fate, who was 17 years old when the war broke out, joined the Confederacy on May 29, 1861 at Wytheville, Virginia.  (Military records give his birth year as 1841, which made him appear to be 19 when he joined.)  He was in the 45th Virginia Infantry, Company I--The Reed Island Rifles from Carroll County, Virginia under Captain Thomas D. Bolt.  After mustering in Wytheville, they began to drill at Camp Jackson where disease spread through the camp, killing many in the regiment.  Fate was listed as being sick when the regiment moved from Wytheville on July 12, 1861 until he finally recovered in October 1861. Many of these young boys fell ill when they joined because they were suddenly exposed to many diseases for which they had no immunity.   Fate was one of the lucky ones because he survived.

In the regiment records, Fate is listed as being 5'7" tall with grey eyes and red hair.  When you look at his photo above and imagine him with grey eyes and red hair, he must have been very striking in appearance!

Fate was elected Corporal in May 1862.  Just a few days later, he was captured at Lewisburg on May 23, 1862 and sent as a prisoner of war to Camp Chase in Columbus Ohio.   His company thought that he had been killed and so they replaced him as corporal.  Fortunately, he only remained in the prison camp, where so many died, for three months.  He was sent  from Camp Chase to Vicksburg, Mississippi to be exchanged on August 25, 1862.

Fate's company was involved in the fighting at the Third Battle of Winchester where he was captured on September 19, 1864. This time, he was sent to Point Lookout, Maryland.  The prison camp at Point Lookout must have been a slice of hell on earth for a young man from the beautiful, rolling hills of Carroll County.

He was released from Point Lookout when he took the Oath of Allegiance to the US Federal Government on October 17, 1864.  Fate then joined the US Army.

Leah Ann Marshall

After the war, he returned to Carroll County, Virginia.  At the age of 25, he married Leah Ann Marshall, a "tailoress", on July 21, 1869 and they had a daughter, Martha Jane Cox who was born on November 27, 1870 (Martha was my great grandmother who married Marion Columbus Burnette)

Martha Jane Cock/Cox

Fate and Leah's marriage ended in divorce on August 13, 1874.  Family stories indicate that it was not a cordial divorce and that it involved the home being set on fire and burned to the ground!  (Maybe my temper is a Cox temper rather than a Burnette temper!)

Fate then moved to Meadow Bridge West Virginia where he married Eunice Wilson on February 18, 1875.  They had one daughter, Emmor Cocke.  (I am unaware of any other children.)

Leah had 8 children other than her daughter, Martha:   Elijah Marshall, Lula Ayers, Jathany Ayers, Alice Ayers, Sylvania Ayers, Carrie Ayers, Sheridan Ayers, & Molly Ayers

Fate died on October 31, 1887 and was buried in Meadow Bridge, West Virginia.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mystery Item Answer--Weasel

This piece of equipment is used to wind and measure a skein of yarn. One end of the yarn is tied to one of the arms and then it is turned to wind the yarn around the other arms. There are wooden gears inside the box to which the axle is attached. After a certain number of revolutions, the gears will cause a thin piece of wood to slip and produce a loud "pop" or "click". When it pops, you know how many yards you have wound at that point.

I have used several antique weasels over the years and they all pop at a different measurements, so it was evidently up to the maker to decide the length of a skein!

I have heard this item referred to by several different names: skein winder, clock reel, click reel, and a weasel. WAIT A MINUTE! Weasel? Yep! When I was first introduced to this piece of fiber equipment by an elder lady, I was told that it was called a "weasel." Hmmm...weasel. I have also heard that this is one explanation for the song, "Pop, Goes the Weasel".

For a more detailed explanation and some nice photos of the wooden gears inside click here.

Mystery Item

Today's Mystery item:

What do you think it is?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pop Goes the Weasel

One of my favorite songs to sing when I was growing up was "Pop, Goes the Weasel". I had many fantastical images in my head about what the words meant! As an adult, I have became very interested in all of the variations of this song.

I always sung this version when I was a child:

While all around the cobbler's bench,
the monkey chased the weasel,
the weasel though it all in fun,
Pop, goes the weasel.

Penny for a spool of thread,
Penny for a needle,
That's the way the money goes,
Pop, Goes the weasel.

Many of the folks that I have talked with sing this version:

While all around the mulberry bush,
The monkey chased the weasel,
The monkey stopped to pull up his sock,
Pop, goes the weasel.

Which version have you heard or do you have a different one?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mystery Item Answer--Sorghum Press

Blue Ridge Parkway--Mabry Mill--Sorghum Press

Yesterday's Mystery Item was a sorghum press. A horse or mule was harnessed to one end of the pole. As the mule walked around, stalks of sorghum cane was fed into the press and the juice was squeezed out.

One year when I was growing up, my best friend's parents decided to grow some cane. (Guess that means they were raisin' cane!) When it was time for harvest, Debbie and I were quickly put to work stripping the fodder off of the sorghum as it was standing in the fields. Then, someone who was taller than we were, cut the top off of the cane. Then the cane was cut and taken to the sorghum press. Stripping fodder was not a fun job. It was sweaty work and if you were not careful, the fodder would cut your hand and it felt far worse than a paper cut!

They were using a tractor-powered press rather than the slower horse powered type. Once the juice was squeezed from the cane, it was put into a large shallow cooking pan that was supported over a wood furnace.

I remember that they started cooking the bright green sorghum juice in the wee hours of the morning and we could smell the wood smoke as it drifted through the open bedroom window. After breakfast, it was our turn to help. As the juice cooks, a scummy foam floats on the top and it has to be skimmed off. We used the long-handled homemade skimmers to remove the foam. That was a job that Debbie & I enjoyed!

The juice slowly started to thicken and turn brown. It seems like it took so long for that to happen! Once the molasses was drained from the trough, we all took short stalks of sorghum cane and used it to "sop" up all of that molasses goodness that stuck in the cooking pan! YUM!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mystery Item

Do you know what this was used for? (click to enlarge)
Post your guess in the comments below.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Scenes from Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill

Gentle Giants

Mill Race

Mill Race

Jewelweed or "Touch-me-Not"

Meadows of Dan, Virginia


We decided to visit Meadows of Dan today. I spent the first 22 years of my life there and then lived there on and off for the next 16 years.

I wanted to visit because it was the Chinquapin Festival this weekend. (see my post about Chinkypins) I really wanted to find some since I have not tasted one in something like 15 years. I knew there was one at my Grandmother's house at the end of the driveway. Unfortunately, I no longer own the home, but, I decided to pull into the driveway and have a look. Lo and behold, there they were . . . little, brown, shiny chinkypins peeking out of the burrs! I must have one! I hopped out of the car and just as I was reaching up to get one, a HUGE dog started running straight for me, barking like he really meant business. Needless to say, I left without a chinkypin!

While I was visiting a friend, she gave me a tip about where she thought there still might be a chinkypin bush. I had to check it out. The bush was COVERED in spiny, bright green burrs. Many of them had not opened yet. I was excited! Unfortunately, all of the chinkypins were tiny. Teeny-tiny. In fact, there was no meat inside the hulls. I wonder if all of the dry weather caused them to be that way?

We also visited Mabry Mill, Rocky Knob Cabins, Rocky Knob Visitor Center, Poor Farmer's Market, Mountain Meadow Farm & Craft Market and I also had to stop and photograph my elementary school that caught on fire last month.

I love visiting back home, but I usually end up having at least one good cry while I am there. Even memories that are good can make you sad sometimes.