from Rolling Stores and Country Cures, A Living History of Northeast Alabama

Corn Coffee and Chicken Stew Dances

By Deloris I. Harper of Altoona, Alabama

Born 1931

      When I was a little girl, I had to work in fields hoeing cotton, picking cotton, and pulling cotton. And when we would gather our crops in, we would have to work for other people for money. This was to help feed us and clothe us and give us a place to stay and keep warm in winter.

      My mother would make all of our clothes to wear to school. I did not get to go to school much because we had to work.

      When someone died, we would go and work for them and help them. You don’t hear of that anymore.

      I remember the Depression days. We had a stamp book. If you did not have that book, you could not get food unless you had the stamps.

      We had to eat cornbread and syrup for breakfast. Dad would take the corn and parch it and grind it for coffee.

      I used to walk about 3 miles to church on Sunday. When I got to be a teenager me and my sister would sneak out and go to a party, for Dad would never let us go. We would have a big chicken stew dance and have music. Me and my sister would steal watermelons and eat them, they were so good.

      When I was growing up we could go off to work in the field and leave our doors and windows open. We did not have to worry about anyone robbing us. We would sleep with them open. I remember when we did not have “electric”. We had an oil lamp for light, cooked on a wood stove, and heated our homes by a fireplace with wood. We would all sit around the fire and Mother and Dad would tell us stories and we would parch peanuts and popcorn. We had no TV.

      On Saturday if we were good, Dad would carry us to town in a wagon 2 miles and he would let us see a movie. It was just 25 cents to see one then.

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