The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Louzilla Patrick’s Mountain Memories

By Louzilla Patrick © 1985

Issue: January, 1985

I grew up here in the beautiful mountains of Kentucky. I was one of 10 children of Milton and Rose Anna Patrick. Both are deceased along with two of my brothers. The rest of the family are scattered, so all I have left is memories....

Memories of walking to school carrying my dinner in a paper poke and taking sandwiches made on crackers or biscuits Mom baked from scratch; or even cornbread.

Walking to church many long miles carrying my shoes to keep them clean and make them last longer, for we only got two pair of shoes a year, but they were all we needed. We went barefooted during the summer. No glass to cut our feet and water was nice and clear back then. We could go try swimming even if we didn't know how.

Mom made most of our clothing except shoes and cotton socks. We played outside a lot, made our make believe playhouses, went to what we called the jungles above the house and gathered mountain tea. Visited what we called the Indian Caves, went between the huge rocks and sometimes jumped from one to another swinging on grape vines. We walked on stilts and pitched horseshoes to name just a few of the many games we played. We had no modern things, maybe a radio, battery type and listened to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights while we roasted beechnuts on the heating stove.

I have never forgot how scared I was of the old goat Daddy had. One morning we started off to school and that goat took after us and we started running and fell. Our dinner, needless to say, was scattered all over the place. Mom heard us scream and came and got the old goat.   I recollect when Daddy made a gritter from a board and piece of metal. After he gritted the corn, Mom made such good gritted corn bread, cracklin bread also.

Oh how I long for the good ole days.
The old mountain people
The old fashion ways
But on this old earth we shall never more see
For people just ain't like they use to be.

Editor's Note... I had never heard of "gritted corn bread" so I asked my parents about it. They knew what I was talking about immediately. They said that in the fall, when the corn was beyond ripe, but not yet dried completely, the ears of corn would be pulled and grated and made into something between a bread and a pudding in texture. They said people used to make their “gritters” (graters) by taking a lard bucket lid or such and punching holes in it with a nail. Then all people had to do was use the side the metal flared out from to grate their food. I thought that was pretty smart.

Homemade "gritters” were probably only one of many pieces of the life of yesterday that are no longer around. They were taken for granted in that era. Now there is a whole generation who never heard of such things. How many other things are being forgotten?

Heritage and history is much more than just names, dates and places; it's every segment of a way of life. We'd like to thank all of you who have contributed information about these details. In sharing your knowledge with us many readers can add it to their wealth of knowledge of the past and it will be one more detail of the past that won't be lost to future generations.