Austerity Evolution II

We have covered  "The Company Store" and how too much dependence upon charging goods/groceries was creating financial problems for the families, particularly my Aunties and Uncles where I grew up. We wrote how this began their own self determined Austerity Evolution.  They accepted their part of the responsibility in this issue, began to buy The Company Store groceries with cash and use the charge feature only when either weather conditions (primarily in the winter)  prevented their usually once monthly trip to the nearest city North or another emergent (urgent) family need arose they had to use the grocery money for.  They looked to what self sufficiency they had in their past to better their present.  My Auntie E1 put in a garden and then many of the community began to do the same.

Auntie E1 and Uncle M. ~  THE FREEZERS ~ My Daddy had recommended to the Uncles if they were to make ONE purchase on credit to buy a freezer, make sure that all the kids got their deer every year, process that venison and get it into the freezer. Uncle M., my Daddy, Uncle M.'s sister and her husband all went in together financially (paid cash) to buy a massive sized brand new freezer.  They built a room in Uncle M.'s home especially for it and built pantry cupboards for the rest of the room to be used to store and stock canned goods/groceries.  That big freezer had to be taken in through an an outside open wall and then the wall closed in and finished.  Yes, there are times today, I wonder if that freezer is still in that room of that home??  Yes, when 'small town and village' word got out about how they'd gone together to purchase this freezer, once again, many of the community did the same thing.

As far as deer being harvested ~  it was one per family member~  man, woman and child old enough to be able to carry a gun and shoot. ALL these deer were legally accounted for within the gaming laws of our state. Deer Season: having a successful deer harvest was a vital component for these families. I ate a lot of venison growing up.

Uncle M. and The Hogs ~  Uncle M. got two hogs. I would help him 'slop' (feed) the hogs. Uncle M. told me I must not go into the hog pen without him because it could be dangerous. Together 'we' were 'fattening the hogs'.  I knew we were making them bigger, helping them grow, I did not know why. I probably named both hogs, but I can only remember one hog's name. I called him "Smiley" because anyway you looked at him side view profile or straight on, he always looked to be smiling.

One day I came upon the preparation for the slaughtering of the hogs not realizing this. They wanted me to leave, yet they were afraid of telling me they were going to be killing these hogs. Finally, Uncle M. straight out told me he was going to be killing these hogs. I objected. He said he knew they were my friends, but they were here to provide food. He told me the killing of hogs is not a sight for a little girl to see and I needed to go.

Auntie E1 meanwhile had called our home. Mama sent one of my older brothers who arrived and dragged me away. I've have always loved bacon. It was several years before I would eat bacon offered to me by Auntie E1 thinking I might be eating "Smiley".  I never could and never have eaten an animal that I've had a close personal relationship with. To Uncle M.'s credit, he did get more hogs and kept them at his brother's place, which was miles farther out. It featured some beautiful pasture land on that property but was even more rural, and secluded  from where we lived due to the miles it took to get out there.

Uncle M.'s Sister  ~  She lived right across the way from Uncle M. and Auntie E1 and we lived a little ways over from her home. She had put in a garden right away after she saw Auntie E1 was doing well with her garden. She also got chickens. On my appointed little girl rounds to check in with Auntie E1, I'd drop by her home and she would let me collect the eggs. It was pretty thrilling. There too, some of the chickens were used for the purpose of  'frying'.  I never ate any of her fried chicken and I especially love "Southern Fried Chicken". It was all I ever knew because that's who all these people were and how they fried their chicken. I couldn't bring myself to eat a chicken who might have been a friend of mine. Nope.

DADDY and Uncle M. ~ Fishing ~  Daddy and Uncle M. took me to our nearest river (less than one mile) and taught me to how to fish. ~  "As long as the river runs, you'll never go hungry if you know how to fish, Sissy." were my Daddy's words.  For Uncle M. this was not serious fishing, it was more a concession to some extended family bonding time. For to Uncle M.'s heart, fishing was supposed to be a serious, sanctified and holy experience. Some of you may have seen me relate that some people don't go to church, they take worship and communion at the water with a fishing pole in their hands.  That comes from how Uncle M. was about his fishing.

The little girl in the whirlwind state of perpetual motion, wiggled too much, talked too much and asked too many questions in Uncle M.'s nature place of worship where reverence, reflection and quiet were necessary. Daddy, whose life was usually in a perpetual state of motion had fallen fast asleep on the riverbank.  And so, I never was Uncle M.'s chosen fishing partner thereafter, but I learned how to fish on my own!

The Point: Especially since freezers came into the picture, many families including all of my own encouraged their children to get to fishing. Many family outings with both children and adults were based around fishing. We had plentiful rivers, streams and lakes and the mill pond close enough by. The fish could be caught, cleaned and immediately frozen if it wasn't a good time to cook up a mess of fish for a meal that very day.

That Daddy O Mine ~ Daddy would be out of town working industrial construction. He took time to get to know the people he was the foreman to and the region/areas/people of the areas he was working in. During the time of this Austerity Evolution, seasonal in nature, with intermittent regularity, it was Daddy who filled his vehicle to the brim, with apples, peaches, pears, strawberries, blackberries, plums, boxes of green beans, cucumbers. I think several times he was able to bring in some 'sides of beef' that were skinned, but had to be cut up and processed for the freezer. I remember at least one time he brought some Salmon (big fish) home. I'm sure there were more things. These are the ones I can now remember on the spot.

Daddy would first call Uncle M. who would then involve Auntie E1 in the conversation to give them the 'heads-up". They had the best place to process all this bulk food. Calling them first would help 'clear the way' with Mama.  Then he would call Mama who sometimes 'balked' at all this because she just wanted simple time with her husband and her family together and Daddy would have to 'win her over'.

Daddy was in demand after his regular construction job working hours wherever he was because he knew how to keep any pre World War II heap of a truck, vehicle or anything that had both an engine and wheels up and running. Post World War II, there were still plenty of them around that had seen better days and were in great need.  Whoever had need and there were many, he kept them going. He was reasonable and not greedy about it. He sometimes used this money he had accepted on repairs to make these bulk purchases and sometimes he did a repair for someone in the area where he was working and it would be a straight across barter. Their goods for his repair work.

Mama and Auntie E1 would get together prior to Daddy's bountiful arrival and make a basic plan from what telephone information they gleaned from him. They would preliminarily decide what processes they were going to do, be it canning, making jam or cleaning certain vegetables, blanching them followed by freezing them. Then check for the supplies to actually do the process or processes through completion. Uncle M. and Auntie E1 were responsible to have or to buy the majority of those supplies, i.e. like sugar, etc.

Of course when it came to those sides of beef and the Salmon, that was all  for Daddy and Uncle M. to take care of  until it got to the wrapping part. Then the women would take over. It was pretty simple, Daddy provided and transported goods, Uncle M. and Auntie E1 provided most of the processing supplies and their labor. Mama pitched in with her labor. They all had their jobs and did their part. Our family name was then written on half the finished products.

I believe that "Daddy o mine" could have kept any third world country fed.

This picture shows one pre World War II heap my Daddy kept running post WWII and my two older brothers a few years prior to the Austerity Evolution.

HATS OFF TO DETROIT ~  During this familial and community Austerity Evolution, "Motor City" was having a radical, technologically advanced, post World War II car making boom.  Brand new cars were available and affordable to working class Americans. The mill paid twice monthly, but most families could only afford the trip to that city North one time per month. There was the issue of the majority having pre WWII era vehicles, only a certain amount of space available for purchases and the safety of making that trip with their 'old beater vehicles' more than one time monthly.

Now my Aunties and Uncles and most of the working people in the area could afford the payment on their new cars and the vehicle designs were compatible for passengers and groceries, lots of groceries. The sisters could 'buddy up' for at least twice monthly trips to the city and load that car down with advertised grocery specials and their other needs. Yes, they had a car payment (on credit), but in those days a good, solid vehicle was a worthy investment that lasted for years to come.

My own Mama was one of only two women in our entire area who never learned to drive. She didn't like it, she didn't want it. She was dependent in that respect, but by golly, Mama had the money and bought their tanks of gas and sometimes picked up the entire lunch bill.

There were heartaches to come with the death of my Daddy and various other life things for family and extended family members to deal with in the future. For their 'right now' It was their own self determination, their own willingness to commit and apply austerity to their lives and work together that brought them to this simplicity, relative prosperity, closeness and yes, happiness! It was a great life, they were great people. I'll never forget them.

Oh my heavens, I just realized that today February 9th, 2013 would be my Daddy's 104th birthday. February 9th is also Mama and Daddy's wedding anniversary date and the very date my Mama passed away and I hadn't planned these blogs to think about them in advance. It just so happened that way. I think they must have smiled upon me from Heaven this week.

Always feel welcome and free to leave a comment or reply.

You can find me as (Plus +) Kaye Francis on Google+ and @grammakaye 


  1. Great read Miss Kaye enjoyed it

    1. Oh what a joy, I'm so pleased you came and took the time to read and reply. Thank you Mark D. so very very much! ~ Kaye

  2. Hi Kaye, my wife also grew up on a farm and she had a favorite pig, well she is sitting there eating a fabulous ham dinner and she stopped in mid meal and asked if this was "her" pig. Her dad hung his head and said it was and she cried an cried and didn't eat pork for several years. So she would very much share your feelings in that regard.
    With 47 million people on food stamps I have been curious if hunting and fishing is up. Growing up on the farm if you didn't hunt you didn't eat, the rules were very simple. We ate raccoon, possum, squirrel and rabbits an deer, I can remember eating scrambled eggs and pigs brains with ketchup which was a tasty treat,today there is no way I would eat pig brains with or without ketchup. Eating was important then and still is today.
    You're right about canning, I have read that canning is making a comeback, but I think it was because it is more organic and if you can your own you know it's not GMO or what chemicals were put on it to ensure it would come to market.
    I stopped hunting when I caught some rabbits that had cancer, they were eating out of a farmers field, I thought whatever that farmer is using on his fields isn't good for the critters so it's likely not good for me, so I stopped hunting. I am curious though if more people have turned to hunting and fishing due to these man made hard times. I can remember as a child my gramma saying "what cha want for dinner billy, does fried chicken sound good". I would say yes and gramma would grab a hen an snap its neck and dress it, I really don't think a lot of moms today could do that unless their children were hungry, so time will tell I suppose. Great Post Kaye, it brought back some memories of the lessons our grandfathers and grandmothers taught us but somehow we forgot. Bill

  3. Oh no, your wife's fav pig! Hunting and fishing were basic standards but then this was in the mountain country where those things were available.

    How folks can find their austerity way today is figure things out: lotta folks who could 'bag' at least five bucks per day giving up that expensive coffee house coffee. If they are drinking it 5 days per week, they'd save $1300 gross. (There is still plenty of net savings after buying what they need to make coffee at home, or coffee beans and grinder for home.)

    Uncle M.'s sister never did 'snap' the chickens' heads with me around (grateful). Regularly helping collect the eggs, I'd notice which of the chickens had come up 'missing'.

    Don't let anyone ever tell you you wasn't raised country. Hunting and eating raccoon, possum, squirrel, rabbit is a total indicator of such. Bill ~ thanks for visiting and commenting. ~ Kaye


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