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Lifestyles & Community

February 11, 2014

Farm life wasn’t easy but good memories remain


James House, 69, son of Edward and Evelyn (Minter) House, grew up on a farm in the Red House area of our county and now lives in Newby.

His mother also grew up on the land had been in the family for at least four generations.

On it they had dairy cows and chickens plus gardens and the usual things it took to make a living and feed a family on a Madison County farm in the 1940s and ’50s.

He had his chores to do, things like feeding the chickens, gathering eggs and going to the spring for water. When it was milking time, he carried a coal-oil lantern for his dad.

James was an only child. With no other families living near by, he spent a lot of time with his imagination and a good dog for company. When his chores were done he and his dog would wander across the land, into fields, up hills and down, exploring.

His favorite dog through the years was named Billy. A pure bred “Heinz 57,” Billy was James’ best friend.

In the evenings, you might find James in the front yard building stick houses or listening to his dad play guitar and sing. At one time his dad, Uncle Roscoe and Aunt Sally, brother and sister to Dad, had a band. Music seems to have always been a part of country life. A good way to relax at the end of the day,

James’ mother cooked on a wood stove. I asked if he had a favorite meal she made, and he said he loved everything she made, but first to come to his mind was her chocolate pies, then “beans and taters,” biscuits and cornbread.

He and his father would go hunting for quail, squirrel and rabbit. He loved fried rabbit with gravy and biscuits. (I love those, too, James.)

His mother made a lot of his clothes. He remembers the shirts she made him from feed sacks. “She was pretty good with a needle,” he said.

When it came time to take butter, cream and eggs to town to sell, he sometimes went along. A trip to the creamery at First and Irvine streets sometimes meant a treat of ice cream.

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