James L. Cowles
Copyright 2021 by James L. Cowles
Photo by of a lamp and book. Courtesy of Dreamstime.
When a young boy, I remember the
shock of seeing my Aunt Annie's house lit only by coal oil
I had never seen such a thing and as I recall, there were only two
lamps, requiring a person to carry a lamp from room to room where
light was needed. How could this be, I wondered? We
from The City of Louisville, where everyone had electricity, but less
than one hundred miles from home, my country relatives were not as
day began well before daylight, with my Aunt
Annie drawing water from the well for the wash pans, allowing us to
wash our faces and prepare for the day. Nothing wakes you up like
cold well water on your face. My Uncle Richard and cousins Gary and
Danny milked the cows, after the boys got them ready by washing their
utters. After milking, my cousins and I took the small herd to the
back pasture where the grass was more abundant. They didn't
need much leading and were anxious to cross the creek and head into
the pasture. In fact, the latter part of the trek ended with the cows
actually running toward the pasture.
was milk to be
delivered to a few customers and of course, there was a large pitcher
for all to have a drink at breakfast. I was used to drinking cold,
homogenized milk, not warm milk just out of the cow. Another shock,
for me for sure.
Perhaps the toughest thing to endure was
outhouse, which was strategically located a good distance from the
house. My cousins and I just ducked behind a bush
most of the time, at least for the lesser requirement of nature.
There was no toilet paper in the old outhouse, but plenty of
newspaper and catalogs for reading and other uses.
was fresh fried eggs, just gathered from the hen house, bacon,
brought up from cold storage and biscuits with honey, or molasses and
fresh butter. Grits? Of course, although I didn't care for them when
I was young. My taste has sure changed and I now love them.
same was true of country ham, which is a salty, cured version of the
oven baked type. The adults seemed to have a greater taste for that,
but not me. Sometimes Aunt Annie would actually prepare several fried
chickens for breakfast, just because we were visiting and that was
always a big treat as well as the largest meal of the day. However,
seeing a chicken get its neck ringed was a little more than
startling, but perhaps not as bad as watching it flop all over the
yard in it's headless dance. It had a bearing on my desire to eat it,
at least until I watched the others enjoying the southern fried
treat. I always wanted a leg and a gizzard and usually got a least
one or the other, if not both.
Dad was a railroad man with
free rides for the entire family, anywhere the line went. I
cherish the memory of those days in Rhoda, Kentucky, the times when
dad and I would take an L&N train down to Edmonson County for
what was always an adventure for a young boy with his country cousins.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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