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On gardening, gophers and 'long' travels
Liberty lore
Children of Pride book cover
Always interested in history, Margie Love is re-reading "Children of Pride."

“Don’t let the bear get you!” This old saying popped into my head during this extremely hot weather.

When people are working outside, they may not realize how extremely hot it is until “the bear gets them!” Heatstrokes are dangerous.

My grandfather was breaking corn for Carlton Baxter around 1956 when he had a heatstroke, and it affected him the rest of his life. We have to get up and out around 6 a.m. to water the plants, grass or pecan trees and get through before it gets so hot, and then stay inside until after 6 p.m.

While cooking dinner the other day, I thought of how hot it must have been when Mama cooked dinner on the wood stove in the summer. I will not turn on the large oven to bake biscuits in the summer, as it heats up the kitchen too much. Well, it did not matter to Mama; the whole stove was heated, anyway. She made that large pan of biscuits and cake of cornbread every day! She had no microwave oven, no pressure cooker and no electric stove. There were no fans, either, and the wooden windows without screens were flung wide open at night to let in the breeze — and mosquitoes.

• Recently, I was invited to a field to pick peas and green butter beans. I was in the field by 6:30 a.m., had my tubs picked before 8 and back home. I shelled until my thumb and thumbnail were so sore, I could hardly move it and had developed a blister on my finger. But, with my husband helping me shell, we got them in the freezer. My finger will get better.

We have been enjoying sliced tomatoes, tomato sandwiches, fried green tomatoes and tomatoes and okra cooked together. I picked a 5-gallon bucket of green tomatoes from Durrence’s field near Reidsville for $10. We have not had any fresh okra this summer, but I see it for sale around $3 per pound. I remember holding the bucket for Mama to cut okra. We would fill two of the largest washtubs every other day and sell it for a dime a pound. Of course, that was about 60 years ago!

I cooked a few ears of corn on the cob by boiling a pot of water with half a stick of margarine in it. Turned down the heat to medium, added a cup of milk and four pieces of corn. Cooked it for about 15 minutes, and it was delicious.

I am in the process of repotting some daylilies that have been in the garden for several years. I had to buy more huge bags of potting soil and found some at Lowe’s to be the best price now. I have two new daylilies to add that I just bought from Lowe’s, Funny Valentine and Always Afternoon. I found several pots of Stella de Oro daylilies that had been reduced to $1 each pot that had several hills in them. They are the small yellow-gold daylilies that make a small clump. We used to have hundreds of beautiful daylilies, but over the years many have simply disappeared. Maybe it was due to some of the weedkiller, or I blame it on the flat running briars that seem to cover everything in the flower beds. I simply cannot keep them out, so I am removing many of the daylilies and putting them in large black plastic pots.

• I am still reading “Children of Pride” and finding interesting bits and pieces. The Rev. C.C. Jones’ daughter, Mary, married the Rev. Robert Mallard, who was called to be the pastor of Walthourville Presbyterian Church. They lived in a house in the area. Her brother, Joseph, was a doctor in Savannah and had been visiting with her in July 1857 when he was 24 years old. She wrote a letter to her father, who was staying at his plantation, Maybank, on the Liberty County coast. She stated that her brother, Joe, was feeling better and that he had taken two slaves, Gilbert and James, with him to find gophers. He brought back 87 gophers to take with him to Savannah, and they were going gopher hunting again before he left there.

All the gophers were found within one-fourth of a mile from the Mallards’ home! I wonder what he did with all those gophers. Did he take them back to Savannah to sell, or was he doing some kind of scientific experiments with them? I know he could not have eaten that many. Maybe he put them in a pen and killed them one at the time for stew! The story did not tell why he wanted them.

I lived in Walthourville about 30 years and only saw one gopher. I also saw one huge blue indigo snake that probably lived in the gopher hole. I understand now why I only saw one.

During the Great Depression, people hunted gophers for food; they were called “Hoover chickens.” Today, they are a protected species in Georgia and many other states. I remember that around 1955, we were going to see Aunt Irene Yarbrough, who lived in a very white, sandy area of Long County. Daddy stopped the Model A and got out because he saw a large gopher crawling across the road. He put it in the floorboard of the back seat. Boy, I was fast to get my little legs and feet up on the seat. I was scared it would grab my bare foot. I knew it would not turn loose until it thundered, and there were no clouds in sight! He was taking it to Aunt Irene so she would clean and cook it! Ugh!

• The Rev. C.C. Jones wrote his son, Charles, who was a lawyer in Savannah, and told him how long it took in August 1859 to travel from Maybank to visit his daughter Mary Mallard in Walthourville in their carriage. They left at 7 a.m. and arrived at 2 p.m. — seven hours to travel about 25 miles! He said it was not very pleasant having to go so far and taking so long in such hot weather.

It is difficult for us to think of it taking this long to travel from Walthourville to Colonel’s Island in this day and age. When Mary visited her parents, she usually stayed a week or two to make the long trip worthwhile!

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