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Kitchen plastered with history
Liberty lore
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The kitchen is the heart of most homes. This is as true today as it was 100 years ago.
Back then, the kitchen was a separate little building usually built before the main house. It was connected by a small porch or walkway that we called a “dogtrot.” I guess it was called this because that is where the old hound dog trotted between the house and the kitchen waiting for a cold biscuit to be thrown to him.
They were separated because the woodstove was such a fire hazard and if the kitchen caught fire the big house might be saved. We kept a ladder leaning up by our old kitchen and I watched my mama many times climb that ladder with a bucket of water to throw on shingles that were on fire.
Richard Russell Groover, born in 1937 and raised in Gum Branch, recalls very well many precious memories in the kitchen of his grandparents, Redding and Mary Groover. He wrote about them in “Tales of Grandpa and Gum Branch,” published in 1997.
“Our kitchen wasn’t like the ones you see in the movies or on TV. It started out as a log home for the family while the big house was being built. Both buildings were made of logs and the kitchen was a lot warmer in the winter when it might be almost impossible to heat the big house. It was the place where most children were born and where the family bonded together in their early years of struggling to make a go of life. The kitchen held their security and they didn’t have the heart to tear it down when the new house up front was finished. So, the older building was usually turned into a kitchen with a dining room and pantry.
“The walls in our kitchen were plastered with newspapers that had been dipped in a solution of flour and water to hold them in place over the cracks between the logs, providing insulation. I can remember Grandpa Redding walking around holding up a kerosene lamp with one hand, reading the news on the wall for the umpteenth time while he waited for supper to be served….
“Several years later, I returned with my dad to the old abandoned log kitchen to tear it down.  It had to be dismantled one log at the time.  Each log had been hand-drilled and put together with wooden pegs.  I thought of the care my grandpa had used as he built the structure and my task became very solemn. The newspapers on the walls were stripped off one layer at the time. They revealed our local history from the Liberty County Herald  and Savannah Morning News. Reports from the war in Europe awoke feelings of sadness. When someone from Gum Branch was killed or missing in action, the whole community gathered at the family’s home, bringing good food and special things to comfort them. We mourned their loss way into the night.
“As more layers were stripped away, I found a memorial page, dated April 30, 1925, dedicated to those who served in the Confederate Army. Very carefully, I took a pocketknife and removed the delicate piece of family history, the names, James D. Zorn and Lt. Charles A. Groover, from the kitchen wall. I could feel grandpa’s presence and the warmth of his smile as I folded the newly found treasure away and went about looking for more archives on our old newspapered kitchen wall.”

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