Cora at the Palmer’s (May 1895 – September 1897) 3

Cora McCauley Palmer’s Memoirs (written for her son, Charles) continue:

“The post office was at Hinton (Missouri) in the general store which carried everything in the line of dry goods by yard, shoes, gloves, harness, ladies cotton stockings, mens work sox, groceries, nails — in fact, most anything you wanted, they carried it. There was no ‘ready-to-wear’ clothing — only in Columbia then. There was a blacksmith shop, two churches, and about four or five residences there then. People would get their mail once a week and once in a great while, someone would order a box of goods of some kind from the city — St. Louis or Kansas City or maybe Chicago. When it came, it was a ‘red-letter’ day for the one who received it.

“In the month of December, your grandfather (William Perry Palmer) would butcher ten fat hogs for the family use. He always said one for company and one each for every member of the family. The next day after butchering, your grandfather salted the meat and cooked the ‘scraps’ (the head, feet, liver, etc.) in a big iron kettle out in the yard and made hog head cheese. Then they put part of the sausage in sacks and fried part of it and stored it in gallon stone jars and covered it with the fresh lard. It would keep until warm weather real good for in those days no one ever heard of canning fresh meat. The salted meat would be put in flour sacks after it had been in salt for about six weeks. Sometimes they would smoke it with hickory chips ’til it was nice and brown. They they would put the ham and shoulders in the sacks to protect them from insects. They usually had 40 to 50 gallons of lard and used it all, for it took a lot of food of all kinds to keep the family going.

“It was really a ‘red-letter’ day for us children when your grandparents went to Columbia. They would load up the spring wagon with whatever they had to sell. They dug parsnips and sold ’em for ten cents per bushel, roasting ears for ten cents per dozen — just anything they could swap for something they couldn’t raise. They always brought something back for each one of us.

“Your grandfather always raised a big watermelon patch. He sold some of them also, but he had all the family could use first. They always had lots of company to eat watermelon. He would bring them from the patch early in the morning and call for all to meet at the ‘stand’ (meaning a big round stand built around a large shade tree in the front). We always ate the melons there, and the boys would come whooping and jumping from everywhere. He would see that all were present before he started passing out the big juicy slices. Sometimes I wouldn’t be through with the dishes when he called, but he always waited ’til I was there. The little boys called ’em ‘slashes’ instead of ‘slices.’ They would say, ‘Pa, hurry and cut my slash.’ They were wonderful days.”