topic 1910's 20's
||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
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
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
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
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
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