By Otis Griffin
At one time in history, youngsters performed their chores (jobs) everyday regardless of age. As any good ole country redneck can relate to the phrase, “git outta ’at bed an’ rattle ’em pots an’ pans.” For city slickers that have been under the root cellar all their life and don’t know the diff’rence ’tween hammerin’ and sawin’ this is deciphered, “as you ain’t gonna’ pile up in the bed when there is work needed to be goin’ on.”
Neighbor, all my friends endured the same coming up. Just a way of life as we didn’t know any difference. A few decades ago when elders spake, you jumped to military attention like a one-eyed goose shot with hot grease and no questions asked.
In conversing with former schoolmates most of the community natives had warm morning stoves to heat the house and wood cook stoves for Mommas. The way this ordeal worked for Emerson, Phil, Paul, Lynn and Tommy since we were the same age was simple. We had a coal pile out in the back yard situated out of the way, covered with a worn out tarp to ward off the rain, since wet coal doesn’t flame real well. Rednecks are smart, but don’t tell ’em Northerners as they will try to copy us.
Daddy had a wooden box over against the wall away from the stove with available coal in case the fire slowed down. Deep thinking adults just had a feel when the wide mouthed lid needed be opened and another chunk th’owed in the furnace. If anyone has had the privilege to handle coal they will remind you it is dirty and messy. Daddy kept some old worn out gloves in the coal box to protect his hands from the black, but also the handle to open big mouth’s lid would blister yo’ fingers in a Beaver Valley second.
Friends, this was classic Southern lore organization. The coal pile was in the back yard camouflaged and covered. I don’t remember anyone borrowing any? My chore was to transport scuttle buckets everyday from the pile to the back porch and store in a wooden box over in the corner so it would be handy to future tote into the living room. Daddy inspected these two wooden boxes everyday just like a hungry hawk eyeballs a cotton tail hopping through the under brush. Better be ‘pert nigh’ overflowing
I was a pretty important individual in the household. Everyday after school before I took care of the stock in the winter I had to ‘take out’ the ashes. Daddy was so proud to have an authentic scuttle bucket and the perfect little hand shovel that lay just right in the front flange. Can you remember when you opened the bottom stove door the gray-white ashes would overflow and fall out on the scuffed wooden speckle burned floor?
There was no such thing as removing ashes quickly. Naww Suhhh. The fog and dust would cover every stick of furniture in the house. (Don’t forget to spread newspapers in case of overflow.) Then Momma was upset and out came the oil soaked rag to remove the dust storm. After I got about a half of a scuttle bucket (that’s all I could tote) I had to lug it to the garden and spread evenly in the middles for the upcoming spring plowing.
Momma would cover the scuttle bucket of ashes with a newspaper since I generally bumped the bucket against my leg and here goes the fog again. The house was clean but I was a mess. Additionally, I had to make sure Daddy had some coal oil and old Press-Scimitars to start a blaze in the morning. I am now ready to tackle the out doors.
After All These Chores I Ain’t Gonna’ Frolic Tonight……GLORY!