"Once Upon a Time a Bit of Camelot"


Democrat Staff

Remember Jackie Gleason when he would say "how sweet it is?"

Once again, it is the season to see what will be on TV as autumn leaves begin to show and pumpkins are waiting to be chosen and the gathering in time creates a feeling that all is well.

In "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," an upbeat read anytime, cellars were full, dancers robust and food was in abundance in a time when everyone knew his neighbor's name and even that of an outsider, the schoolmaster.

A statement by Justice Brandeis "the right to be let alone" was also prized, and what gossip might pass at the supper table was not to be repeated.

How sweet it is to remember an indispensable red wagon used for after-school chores, including filling the wood box, bringing in hickory nuts and walnuts, the last garden pickings, including cucumbers to be placed in a heavy brine in a stone jar with dill and a plate placed on top held down by a round rock.

Nothing eatable was overlooked or wasted.

Mothers and fathers planned ahead for what would be needed to keep a family healthy in the winter months ahead.

A trip to an apple orchard was a big deal, as was the stripping of cane, an all-day job, but one resulting in molasses to be used for gingerbread, cookies, candy and pancakes. Molasses served as a substitute for sugar when it was rationed in World War II.

Nothing was easy come and especially not the dangerous wood sawing day. Wayne Hogan wrote in "The Way It Used to Be," "I can remember back — when we lived way out in the country and we didn't have no radio and we didn't have no TV and we didn't have no electricity and we didn't have no indoor plumbing and we didn't have no running water and we didn't have no newspaper..."

People had to find their own way to enjoy life.

In my childhood community, the school box suppers, playing cards and the country house dances were all part of the scene.

Children learned early to dance and there was no room for the Hindu proverb "He who cannot dance puts the blame on the floor."

Dances were held until Lent. The music was provided by our neighbors the Maier brothers and their sister and their paymnet was what was received by passing the hat. The playing of "Home Sweet Home" usually ended the dance.

With autumn on the turn, on a full moon night, if lucky, one could hear a foxhound chase in the bottoms. And often, too, on such a night, owls could destroy a small turkey flock, a summer's work, intended to be sold to provide Christmas money. This caused my mother much grief.

Meanwhile, knives were being sharpened in preparation for butchering, a day of work where neighbors helped neighbors and everyone knew their job and how to do it.

Gooseberry pie was often served on butchering day to cut the grease, so to speak.

When autumn falls, it is the time to look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas and to remember "how sweet it is" to have memories to recall.


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