The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

How Times Have Changed

By Monroe Tipton © 1984

Issue: September, 1984

Before I talk about how times have changed, I want to tell you about some more fishing trips.

There is a creek called Greasy Creek that runs through Floyd and Carroll County [in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia]. While fishing up above Raven Rock in Carroll County, some women were fishing up above me, one girl and some little children were below me at another hole fishing.

All at once I heard an awful lot of hollering and talking. One of the women up above me had caught a grampus or as you might say, a water dog. They thought they had caught a young alligator. One of them yelled, "Hey Matilda, get them youngun's out of here. I just caught a young alligator and the old ones are bound to be around here some place! Let's get out of here while we can!"

Garnet Rakes ordered a new fishing reel he said was so fast that when he caught a fish, it pulled it in so fast it left a hole in the water. Now, that's what I call fast!

Now I will talk some about how things have changed. I am going to talk about the different buildings we had when I was growing up. Now I bet that 90% of the young people don't know what I'm talking about. I will name some of them; spring house, hen house, crib, granary, hog pen, smoke house, and of course, the little house out back where lots of times you found the Sears and Roebuck catalog.

Now the springhouse was the house that was built below the spring and it was for keeping our milk, butter and stuff that had to be kept cool, as there was no refrigerators then. One could put a watermelon in the spring for cooling and it was delicious. It was better that way then cooled in a refrigerator.

The hen house was where we kept our chickens and had boxes inside where they laid their eggs and roosted at night.

The crib was where we kept our corn.

The granary was a building where we kept our small grain such as wheat and so on.

The hog pen was where we kept about two hogs for fattening to kill in fall for our own use.

The smoke house was a building we used to hickory smoke meat in the curing process.

The little house out back was very important back then as few if any toilets were in houses. But you see, times and things have sure changed.

Back when I was growing up, we ate in the house and used the outside toilet. But now, seems like people would rather eat outside and use the toilet inside. Don't know what will happen next.

I wish the old times would come back when we used to cook our vegetables in a black iron pot on the fire place and cook our cornbread in a big skillet near the fireplace with hot coals on top and bottom. I remember when we used to cook a big pot of pinto beans and corn bread that way. I know that when I used to sit down to that kind of eating with a big glass of buttermilk out of the spring house, I didn't want nobody to bother me for I was busy eating!

I remember when my grandmother used to make several round loaves of light bread that way. I have not eaten any like that since, or tasted any bread like that. It was simply delicious.

Back at the time I am speaking of, people would help each other. Now it seems like that is mostly in the past. When someone was sick or something, all the neighbors would take turns and sat up all night and cared for the sick. Now it seems like all are sent to a hospital

Now when I was growing up, we had to work from sun up to sun down. It wasn't for an hour or two and then take off somewhere else. Back then, the older people were up at 4 o'clock in the morning getting breakfast. When they hollered for us, we knew to get up, for the second holler she would either be there with a razor strap or some 'hickory tea." It was that way all summer for getting in winter's wood, hoeing corn, picking berries and many other things. Children of today have it too easy. They come in, go to the refrigerator, make a sandwich, get something to drink and sit and watch TV. But who's fault is it? It's the parent's for not putting them to doing things.

Back then, we children had to walk to school no matter what kind of weather. But back then, there were schools placed all around the country. We didn't have school buses to ride. Have you ever took time to think what all this costs all of us tax payers with all these children stuck in these big schools? If one child comes in with measles, chicken pox or what ever, the whole community would most likely take whatever it was because of all the children crammed together. I have heard many times that a good 7th grade pupil back when I was growing up had the education of a college student today.

One more thing, when we were growing up, we knew better than to back talk our parents, for it we did, we either got the razor strap or the other remedy called "hickory tea." It did not take many doses of either one until we learned to keep our mouths shut.

Back when I was growing up, we didn't stay out until midnight and so on. We were too tired for all that.

Today you can tell this young generation about how we all had to do and they just giggle and laugh, for they find such things hard to believe.

We used to have our country stores which were close by. Now these big chain stores have come in and put the little ones out of business. Back when I was growing up, we could sell things at the little country stores. To name a few of the things; chestnuts, chinquapins, chickens, eggs, butter, and in winter time, rabbits and of course dried apples and blackberries.

As time goes on, one just don't know what will take place.