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Lifestyles of the Past and Present in Bethesda
Genealogy & Local History eBook

Lifestyles Cover

Prepared by Hugh Keedy and Jessie Bennett
Co-directors: Bethesda Museum

Preface
Billy Alexander
Jessie Bennett
Franklin Bond
Leo Bond
Lola Bowersox
Cleo Grigsby
Agnes Hargrove
Hugh Keedy
Annie Lou McCord
Bessie Mosley
Lester Mosley
Jean Sanders
Joyce Smith
Ruth Taylor
James Trice
Jerry Watkins
Bill Wiley

Interview With Annie Lou McCord

Now, I don't know anything.

[Jesse: well, tell us about how you met that wonderful husband of yours.]

Well, I just don't remember nothing worth telling, only he courted me for two years to get up courage enough to ask my daddy for me. I have lived where I live now every since I have been married. I have had hard work and clean living.

Childhood memories

When I was a little girl I went to school at Bethesda. Walked two miles. In my lunch box I had sausage and biscuits and fried peach pies. We had one lunch box and my oldest brother Henry handed out every one's lunch. And, he just wanted biscuit and molasses. He took his finger and made a little hole in the biscuit and poured it full of molasses. He carried the molasses in a jar.

I was nine years old when I stood up in a chair and learned to make biscuits. It took a big wad of dough to bake three pans of biscuits for nine children. I made all the biscuits myself. We put homemade butter on our biscuits, churned in an old dasher cedar churn. With the milk that was left from the churn we made buttermilk. There was a big pitcher of buttermilk on the table all the time, and sweet milk too, and coffee for my daddy. It was cold enough in the kitchen to keep things cold. The wind would come up between the cracks. They didn't have no rugs on the floors.

My mother and daddy washed by taking the clothes down to the creek. They had a big pot down there and they washed the clothes on a rub board. They put them in the pot and boiled them with homemade lye soap. We carried the wet clothes to the house. In the yard we had a big wire clothesline and we hung them on that clothesline until they got dry, or they froze dry. We had to wait until another day to iron, because they didn't all get dry. We didn't have electricity so we used big old steel hand irons. We built up a fire out in the yard and got them hot, and sat out there and ironed the clothes in the sunshine.

After a hard day of work, a typical evening at our house was for Henry my brother to pick the banjo and my father would play the fiddle and I would play the piano. And, we just had music! We didn't dance, no. We never did dance. I played the piano by ear mostly. I took music for a little bit from Miss Powell over about Triune. And, Jimmy Lou Trice took music over there at the same time. I have no idea what a music lesson cost then. My daddy wasn't able to have many lessons because with nine children he didn't have much money. But we had a lot of fun and we had plenty to eat--and good eats. We raised everything we ate. We had a big orchard, made cider and we barreled it up for vinegar. We had a little--what they called a Speck [brand name for a step type stove] stove. It had two caps down here and two caps up here.

We didn't have no bathroom. The boys all went to the creek and the girls brought in a big wash tub at night and got back in the back room--in the kitchen--after everybody else was out and locked the doors. I had two sisters. Six brothers and two sisters. I had my 100th birthday in December, the 30th of December. I was born in 1895 and we married December 26, nineteen and fifteen.

Married life

We got married sitting in a horse and buggy down at New Hope church and then we drove on to Franklin to my Aunt Wins____ (???) and had a wedding dinner. We come back home that night and that was my honeymoon. Charlie and Fanny [Trice] married the same day Walker and me did. We came back to my husband's home, which is here, but not in this house. I have lived here since I was married. We lived together 60 years, happy years.

I said all the time that I wouldn't live in the house with no other woman, when I was a growing up. And, I never lived nowhere else. I lived 19 years in the house with Mrs. McCord. She was Jimmy Walker's girl from Virginia. They came down from Virginia.

My husband for his hobbies mowed the yard and chopped the garden, and he pieced quilts and crocheted. He also caned chair bottoms [one was for Jessie] after he retired from being a carpenter. When he was a little boy his mother, Mrs. McCord, set him out in the yard and give him a bucket full of old nails and he drove them every one in the ground, pulled them out and drove them back again till he fell asleep. And then she would take him and put him to bed. And she said he was a natural born carpenter. He loved to drive nails.

He helped to build Camp Breckenridge up in Kentucky during the war. He worked up there for three months. The last house he built in the Bethesda area was up here on Flat Creek Road--that pink brick house, and he built Johnny Hatcher's house, and he built barns for everybody. And, he built the smokestack at Bethesda school when it was up on the hill, where you [Jessie] went to school.

My husband was a magistrate for five weddings. The first one he had here at the place was a double one. Another one that he married--they come in here and we was gone to prayer meeting and his mother told him--they wanted to know where he was. One of them was Lillian Burkhart and Robert ------ ???. And we come back from prayer meeting, turned in our road up yonder and somebody flashed their lights. I said, " I'm not going--we better not go in there. Somebody is down there drunk." And he said, "well, I'm not going to let nobody run me out of my home and we're going on." And they come on and about that time Robert got out and came to the buggy and told him what he wanted. He said all right, I'll get out and go see. He struck a match and looked at Lillian and said, "I believe she'll pass." And he married right up our lane up there--he married that couple and they wanted it to be a secret. She was teaching school and was boarding at Miss Carrie Trice's, in the old rock house [the old Laban Hartley house]. He married six couples while he was a magistrate. We didn't marry anyone in the house. He would have to go out to the buggy.

At Christmas we always had a Christmas tree and he would help me roll [wrap] the gifts and everything. He wouldn't waste the paper to roll mine. It was a box of chocolate covered cherries tied with a twine of string. He didn't wrap mine; he just thought it was just wasting money. When I was a little girl, before I was married, we hung our stockings up and I'd get a pretty doll in it. I also got three or four pieces of sugar candy in my stocking. We didn't get much. We did get raisins--on a stem [not in a box]. My momma always got a present on the table--they say that's what Santa Claus left for momma--a whole hoop of cheese. They cut the cheese with an old sharp butcher knife, sharpened on a grindstone with somebody turning the grindstone and my daddy holding the butcher knife.

Hog killing and related matters

They had to have sharp knives when they killed hogs. When they killed hogs they built a big fire around what they called a scalding tub down at the creek. They filled it full of water and when it got boiling hot, they'd have one of the hogs already killed. They'd put him in there and get all that hair off of him.

Well, Elizabeth and Dorothy went out here in the lot one time and we had six to eight shoats and they decided they wanted some fresh meat. They went out there and caught that pig and drug him--a great big hog--in the yard and I stuck him with a butcher knife. And they put him in the wash pot and got him clean. He was really clean but they didn't think clean enough and they come to the house and got razor blades and just about cut all the hair off of him. They hung him up and I took the butcher knife and done the rest. I got the chittlins [chitterlings] out. That's all I know about 'em and I don't want to know no more. I can't bear the smell of them, but they cooked them at my mother's--rolled them in batter and fried them and they were the best looking things you ever looked at. But I took one bite and I couldn't swallow it. And I never have took another one. No!

The water down there runs over a rock bottom in our creek and we stood there with our overshoes on and ripped them hogs open and they just went on down the creek, the insides you know. And we washed them [chitterlings] and put them in a tub of water and set them in the smokehouse and they froze over and I broke it and got them out and put them in a two gallon bucket and my husband got on what they called the interurban that run from Franklin to Nashville where my brother lived. And, he loved chittlins, and he carried him that two gallon bucket full of chittlins to Nashville on the interurban.

There was a lady came down from up in Wisconsin, and she said she never heard of a chittlin'. Said, "What is a chittlin"?"

We didn't have no balloons then, but we all had our bladder [from the hogs] and we hung it over the fireplace. And Christmas morning we popped them bladders. [Jessie: I remember that, but hadn't thought of that in years. You would hang them up on the wall and when they dried they would pop. We all fought over them.] We put some popcorn in them before we blowed them up so they would rattle.

We salted the meat down. We would lay it out on the roof at night and then we would salt it a big box and let it lay so many weeks and get it up then and hang it up and build a fire under it with hickory wood and smoke it. We hung it up in the smoke house. We would go to the smoke house and get a big ham and cut it when anybody comes to spend the day. We'd have ham.

One time my grandmother was there and Mrs. Alexandra (???) and Dr. Blyth Core was all going to be there for dinner and you know what was going to be on the menu. I couldn't get it in the skillet right. It wouldn't fit in the big old iron skillet. And I just took the butcher knife and cut it up in strips and laid it in there and when it got done there were little strips about like my finger. And, my father said to me, "Sissy, what happened to your meat?" And I didn't like for him to reprove me, you know in front of guests. So I said, "well, I cut it to fit the skillet."

Oh, did we make sausage! We would cook a sack of sausage when we boiled a ham. When it got done we lifted the sausage sack out and just left it stay in there till it got cold and we'd take that cloth off of it--made out of brown domestic, the sacks were great, long sacks--and it was the best meat loaf you ever had. Slice down through it. You would leave it in the sack till you take out the ham and take out the sausage and leave it till it gets cold.

Late in the fall my daddy would have to kill a shoat [for meat], and he killed goats, too. He had goats. We trimmed the meat all around to get all the fat off of it and that would make your lard. You chopped up the fat in pieces and put them in a pot and stand there and stir it and stir it and stir it until it got to be cracklins. And then you lifted them cracklins out and strain it into the lard stand [a large metal can] that we had setting there. Oh, them cracklins makes cracklin bread! They said you would sing, "Get out the skillet and hang on the lid, the white folks gonna have shortnin' bread." Shortnin' bread was like cracklin bread; it was sooo good!

We milked cows and sold milk. We put it in cans and cooled it down here at the well. There are six wells here on this place. And, there were slaves here.

Some family stories

Elizabeth Crunk went with her aunt to visit with the neighbors over here where your boy lives now. We had read story books to her. We had an old story about the king and he said, "Fe-fi-fo-fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman." And she got it mixed up and when she got over there with Ira (??) her aunt, she jumped up in a rocking chair like she had never seen a rocking chair before and got to rock, rock, rock and saying "Ke-ki-ko-kum." She yelled that as loud as she could. Ira brought her home and said, "I don't intend to take that young 'un nowhere else, never. Never again."

When we were at home the boys would get out and play ball. The girls got out and played marbles and hopscotch. We jumped ropes. One would hold one end and the other girl would hold the other and one a jumping. Sometimes they would holler "Pepper" and they would get it that much hotter--that much faster. And the boys would set down and play marbles and mumble peg--they drove a peg in the ground and you had to get down and pull it out with your teeth.

One time Minnie and Joe Will Hazelwood went off to town and left all them children there--10 children. Annie Lee was a baby at that time. They was a playing hiding and seek and they run by the churn and they just stood her up in the churn and they went on to play hide and seek. And, they couldn't find her. When they found her, there the little one was setting in the old cedar churn.

And one day Elizabeth and Dorothy got into a fight. Elizabeth hit Dorothy and Dorothy cried. I said, "you go over there and tell your little sister you are sorry." She went over there and she said, "I'm sorry...but I ain't." She used to ride the harrows here with three mules hitched to the harrow for our daddy to sow seed. She worked out with him. That's why she likes to work out now.

Well, one time I was setting out on the back porch. I had washed my hair, and I was setting on the couch letting it dry. It had blowed up like a balloon, and Jessie [Bennett] come to the back door to get Mr. Walker to bottom a chair. And she saw me and it scared her to death. She just fell back out the door.

[Jessie told a story about Mr. Walker. He fixed a chair for her but when she came to get it he told her it was in too bad shape to fix. He had a piece of cardboard over it, but when she picked it up she found that he had fooled her. She still has the chair.] Yes, he liked to joke.

The pack peddler

And one thing I do remember that I doubt if anybody else does--there was a pack peddler that come through the country. They'd stop over at the store and ask where they could spend the night. He was a walkin'. He came over there and pappy let him stay all night. He wouldn't turn nobody away. And, then next morning he'd open up his pack and the first thing he would do would be give my mother what we called a bedspread--a counterpane--and it was blue and was real pretty. And he had beads--that's one thing I wanted, a string of beads--and they were right there; you didn't have to order them. A pack peddler is a peddler--he's a Jew from the old country--and he came over here to send back to get his wife in years to come. He just had everything in that pack. He unrolled it--it was wrapped in what looked like black oilcloth. It had men's razors that had handles on them. They wasn't any old little safety razors. They had a handle and you opened it up. And he had mirrors in there and he had needles and thread and thimbles and French harps for the boys and pocket knives for the boys and just everything you wanted. I don't remember what anything cost--I didn't know how to count money at that time. That was the only pack peddler I ever did see. He strapped the pack on his back that he pulled up pretty good. The second time he came in a little wagon and drove a little mule and he walked behind. Martin Toner here in Franklin for years bought scrap iron and everything, and he was a Jew.

Church

We went to church in a horse and buggy. And I was playing the organ one night and I got up to play the organ for the last song of the revival, and my ankle turned and I fell sprawling in Mr. Billy Hargrove's lap. He always set on the front seat with a big palm leaf fan--it was hot in that church. On Sunday evenings we visited the shut-ins--the old folks that was older than we were.

I went to revivals--Presbyterians don't have revivals, do they? They had revivals as long as I can remember. When they held revivals outside they called them camp meetings, but we never did have that--we just had them in the church. When I was young the men and women did not sit together at church. They had two doors and the women would sit on one side and the men on the other.

We had fellowship dinners and homecomings and everything like that. When I was married we would always keep the preachers. And we had a woman preacher Jane Derryberry. Dale McCord--we kept Dale after he got out of school. He was going to make a preacher and he didn't have no way to go nowhere, and we'd keep him here in our home. And, he couldn't preach much. We had a nice time together.

Politics

I don't know nothing about politics because I don't believe in them.

Funerals, wakes, and the sick

There were no funeral homes when I was a little girl. They had the funerals at home. I was setting up one night up on the hill up here and this girl--Mr. Biggers girl--had cancer and she died. We didn't have no telephones and Walker was coming after me next morning at four o'clock and she died about midnight. They had to go to Doug Davidson's to call {Athura???} the undertaker. He come in and he looked at me a minute and he said, "get that kerosene lamp over there and stand at the head of the bed while I embalm her." And I saw him, what he done--start there and clip, clip, clip. Makes you shiver! They brought the casket that night and got her through with and I had to stay the rest of the night. Back then when someone died they had the funeral there at home. They set up with her the night before. They didn't take children to funerals. They brought Mrs. McCord back here that night.

At a wake they sat up with them. I hope nobody woke up. I heard them tell a story about somebody that had rheumatism and raised up in the casket. Some of them started out the windows and everywhere.

I was setting up with a lady that was sick one night--I went around and set up with everybody--I took a nurses course one time for six weeks. And I was setting up with Mrs. Lulu Robinson and her husband had gone off to take a nap. I had to drop the medicine 15 drops. When I got back to the bed to give it to her, she had took a double white blanket and put her head under it. I throwed that white medicine into the fire, afraid that she'd smother to death before I could get her out. It was no laughing matter.

One night we got her up--Miss Irene was setting up with me that night--to rest her back before putting her to bed for the night. There was a big old iron poking stick [fireplace poker]in the corner and she said, "Miss Annie Lou, will you change corners with me?" She was setting over in the other corner. I said I would be glad to but I picked up the poking stick when I started. She was going to get that after me.

Being a good neighbor

I walked from here to where Roy Cooper lives and picked strawberries. The Robertsons lived there then. I picked them a gallon and me a gallon, and them a gallon and me a gallon. And I'd walk back home and tote my strawberries. You know how far that is. I walked all over this country. I didn't let nobody move in and live a year in this country but what I didn't visit them. Josephine Ketchum, my neighbor for 30 years I reckon--the first head of cabbage I had one time I cut it half in two and sent her a half a head to make slaw, and I had a half a head. She was talking about it Sunday evening when she was over here. She spent the afternoon with me Sunday and she was talking about how long we had been living neighbors together, about 30 years. She was the first one to get to me when Walker died. You know, he fell dead up the lane--right up the lane there.

My 100th birthday

I don't remember my 100th birthday party too well. [A tongue-in-cheek remark.] I tried to remember everything but I couldn't remember all of it. And, when Hap and Annie Lee Neal come to wish me a happy birthday, Hap looked down at Annie Lee and said, "Annie Lee, she don't have as many wrinkles as I do."

[Jessie: what would be your philosophy of life to someone 100 years from now?]

I don't have no words for them if they ain't got no better--I don't know. Work hard and clean life.

I hope the ones that take the time capsule out have the strength not to read it. Who would want to read all of this mess.

[Jessie: wouldn't you like to hear something that happened 100 years ago?]

Yeah! If you put this in a book you'll be ashamed of it and I will too! I'll be ashamed to hear it, I sure would.

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