Granddad’s sister remembers life on the farm

Life on the farm:

There were 6 children in our family. Abe and Irene Shelby were our parents. We lived along the Williamsport Pike south of Greencastle, PA. We had cows, chickens, horses, pigs, a dog and cats.

We had no electric, plumbing, TV, radio or computer. Do you wonder what we did? We had a telephone. The telephone was a box on the wall with 12 or 13 other people on the line and you first had to wait your turn and couldn’t carry it with you shopping!

One of the ladies on the telephone line wrote a column for the local newspaper and they blamed her for getting her news from the phone.

We got up about 6 o’clock in the morning and lit lanterns for light to take to the barn to do the milking by hand. Later Dad purchased a milking machine. We carried the 3 gallon buckets of milk to the milk house. We milked 10 or 12 cows, morning and evening.

Gary liked to drive the Fordson tractor in the fields but didn’t care for the work at the barn and Dad wouldn’t go up the silo when it was full so Gary found that it was the perfect place to hide until the evening work was finished.

After I washed the milk buckets and strainer, I always scrubbed the milk house floor. Mother would have breakfast ready of mush pudding and fried eggs. Then it was time to get ready for school. If I was lucky I could ride with the milkman who came with a large truck for the cans of milk to haul to the creamery. Or when it was raining Dad would haul me or I could walk the 2 or 3 miles to school. It was near Cedar Grove church. There were no school buses.

We had no water at school so two of us girls would take a broom handle and put it through the handle on the bucket and walk back to Grandpa Grove’s house back of the school to get water.

In the summer we had a large garden and truck patch. We also went to the back farm and picked cherries and blackberries for Mother to can.

Fred fell out of a shellbark tree when he was supposed to be picking blackberries. He said he saw a pretty butterfly that he wanted for a school project.

I liked going along with Dad to the back farm. Mr. and Mrs. Jones lived there and she would open large oatmeal boxes that had pretty dishes in and give them to me. We would also sit out on the porch on rocking chairs until Dad was ready to go home.

She used lots of tin cans of fruits and vegetables and threw the cans out the kitchen window and down the back steps toward the spring house that they used as a refrigerator.

We gathered lots of shellbark and walnuts at the back farm and they were delicious in cakes and cookies.

Dad would take corn and wheat to Lehman’s Mill and get it ground and put in large bags and mother baked bread, pies and cakes. The corn meal was boiled in water until it was stiff and poured into a pan to cool. Sometimes they ate some with milk on it in the evening and next morning she would fry some with pudding and eggs for breakfast.

Butchering day was a big event. Dad would butcher three large hogs with Mr. Hyde to help. I was in school but I wanted to be at home to eat some of the pork after it was cooked for pudding. So the teacher left another girl and I walk home. There were snow drifts as high as the fence so we walked on top of the fence going home. Dad took my friend home in the evening.

When the wheat was ripe they would cut it with a binder pulled by a tractor. The corn was cut by hand and put on shocks and later husked by hand.

Washing day we heated the water in a large iron kettle in the fire place in the washhouse and carried it to the washing machine. The washing machine was run by a gasoline engine.

Evelyn was the oldest. She was married. She was 20 years older than me. Clifford worked on a farm near Maugansville, MD. Fred after high school went to EMC; Gary to barber school. He later purchased a barber shop in Greencastle, PA. Virginia worked at Stanley’s that made men’s suits. And I was at home.

When Dad purchased the house in Greencastle, I walked over to Gary’s Barber shop and told him that Dad paid $4,200 for it and he said, “That much?!” Houses didn’t sell for then what they do today. When I was 14 we moved to Greencastle.

That was life on the farm.


Organizational skills and family reunions

I recently attended a reunion of the descendants of my mom’s dad’s brothers and sisters (my great uncles/aunts??). Most of the great aunt/uncles are dead, but the point of the reunion was more for the next generation, my mom and her cousins. Before the reunion, I had been wavering between excitement and dread, because I didn’t really know anyone; but then, the whole point was to meet folks in my extended family that I either hadn’t met or met briefly in my childhood. The most striking thing about the reunion was that It was extremely well organized from the start. I think the “control freak” gene, which my mom affectionately refers to as the “organizational skills” gene runs rampant on that side of the family. This was nice for most of us because all we had to do was show up and be shuttled from gathering sites to eating sites and back again at the proper times. Even the ‘photo shoots’ were “well organized”. My mom provided the name tags which were decorated with stars that were color-coded for each of the uncles/aunts families and number coded for generation (she’s REALLY ‘well-organized’). The photo-shoot for the ‘one star’ (mom and her cousins) generation was like the paparazzi going after a group of celebrities. One of the best parts was when the only aunt (my great-aunt?) who was there talked about her childhood on the farm. Activities included ping-pong, outdoor games, cards and conversation. Our branch of the family had napping contests (I think I won). All in all it was fun and I’m glad I went. I met a lot of really interesting people and it was nice to feel like I have an extended family. My family moved away from most of our extended family before I was born, so sometimes I miss that sense of connection.

I just looked at the “automatically generated, possibly related posts”. My previous post (inspired by Toby) makes sense as possibly related, but I would love to know how that footballer post is “possibly related”! This is not a word press feature that impresses me!