topic 1910's 20's

Noel, Christmas Papa Mama cabbage on New Year's

   In My Childhood -- at Christmas

   Papa would come in with a great big log to put on the fire in the living room fireplace. He called it La Buche de Noel -- or Christmas log. We always watched in anticipation of a big blaze (for a moment) as it began catching fire. We'd hear cricket screeching and bit of branches blazing, and watch for sparks flying and then the gradual quiet of a beautiful warm spot near the fireplace.

   The fireplace was a gathering place in the evening after supper and homework. Papa would take us (as many as he could) on his knees and tell about his travels. (That I know -- he dearly loved his children and the more the merrier!)

   Papa never spanked us -- not a one -- neither did mama. She scolded us when needed, but Papa had no need to. Just a chance remark let us know what was unacceptable and I don't remember ever, ever being disciplined by papa.

   If possible, a few of us would walk to the woods about a quarter of a mile back of our house and look for a suitable tree for Christmas. It was usually a scrawny little tree because we had no bushy trees. We took it home, placed it in a can with pieces of bricks to hold it up, and decorated it with paper, colored chains, sometimes popcorn chains.

   Mama always cooked a fine roast -- and as it was baking Papa would take a look to see if it was making a "rusty gravy" -- which he delighted to see! We usually had sweet potatoes and other vegetables, maybe cauliflower and/or cabbages.

   Always we had cabbage on New Year's Day. It meant "money" or "good luck."

topic 1910's

kerosene lamps

   We had about 3 or 4 kerosene lamps. Someone had to clean and put oil in the lamps at least once a week. When it was my job, I'd carry them all to the left (west) side porch and clean all the chimneys with "coal oil" (we called it), also trim the wicks and cut up the burnt tips. It had to be cut even or it would make a bad light. We very gingerly carried them back to the front mantle piece and one in the kitchen.

   It brings to mind the many hours I spent at the table doing my homework and then reading whatever book I was able to get at the school library. I read every new book that came in, and I remember many as might, I was still reading at 11 o'clock and Mama would call me to get to bed.

topic roasting coffee

Memere Poline Reulet

   Roasting Coffee Beans

   My grandmother (Reulet) always roasted the coffee beans at midday after dinner. She had a big black cast-iron pot heating on the wood stove. After roasting, it was stored until time to grind it in the mill. The mill was in the pantry and Aunt Marie had the job of grinding it after supper to have it ready for the next morning's coffee. The roasting of the coffee made smoke that went through the kitchen and the ceiling of the kitchen was "black."

   My grandmother (Reulet) also baked bread in the big oven every week or twice a week. She always had some for us. After school on "baking bread" day we'd run to her kitchen and she'd give us each a big slice of hot French bread with a can of syrup. Talk about a delight to happy school kids!

   She also baked sweet potatoes in that big oven. We'd get some after school -- peel pecans in November and December and put pieces of pecan in the potatoes as we walked along looking for more pecans. It was a feast for us.

topic 1920's

Pecan Trees Tante Mence

   Tante Mence (Clemence), a sister of my grandmother, would walk under the pecan trees with us to look for pecans, and I remember her saying, "Soufle St. Antoine" (Blow, blow St. Anthony) to knock the pecans down for us.

   We spent many an afternoon after school gathering pecans, then bringing them home to save for making fudge and taffy or for cakes which were a treat we enjoyed.

   We enjoyed the pecan trees (there were 4) and spent all weekends and summers playing there. I can say I spent my childhood under those trees