The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Did You Ever...

By Hazel P. Hedrick © 1986

Issue: April, 1986

Did you ever live in a one, room shack
with holes in the roof and mud in the cracks,

with a hearth for a stove and dirt for the floor,
with windows of boards and no screen door.

Do you know the feel of a bedbug bite
or fleas in your bed in the middle of the night?

Well I have friend and this is true,
but I wouldn't wish any of this on you.

Hold on to your chair or head for the door,
for that ain't all friend here comes more.

Did you ever sleep on a straw-tick bed,
no springs for your back or pillow for your head?

Do you know the feel of slats on your back
when the straw wore out and feel thru the crack?

Did you ever bathe in a tin wash tub,
get burned on your bottom while trying to scrub?

Well I did friend and that ain't hay.
If you want to hang around I have more to say.

Did you ever hike four miles to school
to learn your A B C's and the Golden Rule?

Did you ever stay home from school all day
to help pick peas and stack the hay?

Did you ever hoe all day in the field
and know you would starve 'fore the evening meal?

Did you ever come in so hungry and tired
you were happy to find cold corn pone and lard.

Did you ever make soap from fat scraps and lye
and go blind when the fumes got in your eye?

Did you ever wash clothes on an old scrub board,
drink water from the branch from a home grown gourd?

Did you ever do your home work by a coal-oil light
and strain your eyes till most lost your sight?

Well I did friend and no one should.
There's more of this so listen good.

Did you ever make lasses from the juice of cane,
carry fodder for umbrella in the rain?

Did you ever watch Ma while she milked the cow
with a youngin on her lap and wonder how?

Have you gone to the woods to rake up leaves
to cover little pigs so they wouldn't freeze?

Did you ever carry to the mill on your back,
half bushels of corn in a clean chop sack,

to be ground for meal to make corn bread,
to see that the kids and calves were fed.

Well I have friend and that ain't cake
and it did make the young back ache.

Just hold on tight there's a little more.
This you don't have to read if it's a bore,

but if you hang on till I'm all through,
You just might learn a thing or two.

Did you ever cut wood with a cross-cut saw
till your poor little hands were blistered and raw?

Did you ever run thru a yellow-jacket nest,
try to salt the tail of a robin-red-breast,

or watch your dad kill a huge rattle-snake
while you hoped your fence rail wouldn't brake?

Did you ever pick peas in a spanish needle patch
or watch for bird-nest eggs to hatch?

Did you ever bake bread on the hearth in a skillet
with home grown cracklings frying in it?

Did you ever drink buttermilk right from the churn,
eat leather-britches cooked in a pot made of iron.

Did you ever eat chicken eggs fresh from the nest
and for ten cents a dozen sell the rest?

Did you ever drink sweet milk fresh from the cow?
Well, I have friend and I'm telling you now,

you haven't lived if you missed all this
and you're dead wrong if you think I jest.