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DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Salamanders

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Environmental Education

SALAMANDERS at Pine Mountain Settlement School

Plethedon cinereus. Red-backed Salamander
[Brian Gratwicke [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)] Wikimedia Commons

TAGS:  salamanders, green salamander, Pine Mountain Settlement School, Clifford H. Pope, Harlan County, Kentucky, Plethdons, Plethodon Aneides aeneus, Greasy Creek, Limestone Creek, 1928 , ecological life histories, chestnut trees, ecological history, eggs, hibernation, salamander aggression, red-backed salamanders,


The salamanders of Pine Mountain Settlement School are some of its most fascinating residents and like the School, they have an engaging history —- one that has captured the attention of herpetologists through the years.

In 1928 Clifford H. Pope a herpetologist and conservationist with the American Museum of Natural History engaged in a field study of salamanders from the mountains of North Carolina to the Cumberland Plateau of Kentucky. His study was far-ranging and one segment took place at Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan County, Kentucky. Funded by the Douglas Burden Research Fund, Pope was at the School for the purpose of a field study to determine the relationships of four species of the genus Plethdon — P. glutinosus, P. shermani, P. jordani, and P. metcalfi. The focus of Pope’s work at Pine Mountain was a species within the Plethdontidae family, known as Aneides aeneus. Also called the “green salamander,” it is today a rare lungless salamander seldom encountered in the region.

The Plethdon salamander genus

Green salamander from Breaks Interstate Park
[Brian Gratwicke [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) ]Wikipedia

In his published research in American Museum Novitates, No. 306, April 14, 1928, he noted the hospitality he received at the School from “Mrs. Ethel de Long Zande and her colleagues who made me feel very much at home while collecting …” Pope was at Pine Mountain Settlement for five days, from July 20th until the 25th and a return for one day on the 28th. He was assisted in his search for salamanders by a Pine Mountain student, Evans Compton. Evans, a thirteen-year-old, was familiar with the local terrain and acted as an assistant in the collection of the salamanders.

The salamander search is described in Clifford Pope’s notes from his field diary:

July 20. We hunted for part of the afternoon on the School grounds just below the reservfoir in damp, thick woods and found one specien inside of a large, decayed log.

July 21. during the morning we hunted in the forest along the Laden Trail, a wagon road that crosses Pine Mountain about a mile southwest of the School, and found five specimens (A.M.N.H. Nos. 25583-25587) as follows:
(a) a small one under the very loose bark of a solid log lying beside the road. Only a little bark remained on the log;
(b) two small ones under the bark of a limb of a large, prostrate water oak. The log was solid and the specimens were about five feet above the ground;
(c) one more under the very loose bark of a large, prostrate, solid, chestnut log lying by the road;
(d) the fifth under the bark of a large, solid, prostrate log embedded in a thicket above the road.

A long unt in the afternoon, along the base of Pine Mountian about a mile northeast of the School, netted only one specimen. It was taken on the edge of a clump of scrub trees under the bark of a solid section of a log lying in a dry, overgrown pasture. The log was exposed to the sun.

July 22. Our morning’s search was fruitless but in the afternoon we found one specimen a mile below the School near Greasy Creek under the bark of a section of a solid water oak lying exposed to the sun in an area devestated by lumbermen and another (A.M.N.H. No. 25589) under the remaining loose bark of a solid, prostrate log also well exposed and lying in the same devestated area.

July 23. Hunting in the forest near the base of Pine Mountain about two miles southwest of the School we found four specimens (A.M.N.H. Nos. 25590-25593), the first two under the loose, decaying bark on the upper side of a huge, prostrate chestnut log and the last under the loose bark of another fallen chestnut tree four or five feet in diameter and not far from the first. Both logs were solid.
The third specimen was found with a batch of fourteen eggs ina prostrate water-oak limb eight feet long and one foot in diameter. The eggs were in a long, shallow cavity one to three inches wide by one deep and near one end of the limb. Much of the bark was missing and the log, though still solid, had a thin layer of decayed wood under the bark where the eggs were found. The cavity was on the side of the log and so the eggs, though virtually suspended, actually rested against the cavity’s bottom or the side of the log.

[Discussion of egg cache]

July 24. During a long half-day’s search we found only one specimen (A.M.N.H. No. 25594). It ws taken in the forest near the base of Pine Mountain some two miles southwest of the School under the very loose, decaying bark of a chestnut limb or small tree barely a foot in diameter leaning against other trees. The salamander was aout five feet above the forest floor.

July 25. It was not until this date that we really found the true habitat of A. aeneus. On this day our first three hours netted twelve specimens and yet we hunted just where we had worked before with little result. Searchig in the forest along the Laden Trail we found:
(a) one at the base of Pine Mountian under the very loose bark of a solid chestnut stump five feet high and ten inches in diameter;
(b) six or seven more not far away under the very loose bark of a solid white walnut limb some twelve fee long and eight inches in diameter lying near a strea in heavy shade with one end propped against small trees and the other resting on the ground;
(c) two more only twenty feet away on a solid, poplar log placed much as the white walnut just described;
(d) two more under the bark of the end branches of a large, solid, basswood log lying in a tangle of weeds and bushes about halfway up Pine Mountain, three to four feet above the forest floor;
(e) two more under the bark of a large, solid chestnut limb lying across a fallen tree; and finally,
(f) four more under the bark of a large, solid, maple log lying near the road about halfway up the mountain.

July 28. In about an hour’s hunting alone in the woods between the School and the reservoir I found five specimens:
(a) two of which were under the loose bark of a slender, solid, chestnut log leaning against some living trees;
(b) one more three feet from the ground under the loose bark of a small, solid stump about four feet high; and finally,
(c) two more, one large and one small four to five feet from the ground under the loose bark of an upright, dead white walnut tree still quite solid and only four to six inches in diameter.

Aneides aeneus,then lives under the loose bark of dead trees.

Pope, p. 8

HABITAT

It is interesting that Pope’s assessment that the habitat of the Aneides aeneus was “under the loose bark of dead trees.” This has been questioned to some degree by more recent articles that suggest the preferred habitat of many green salamanders is indeed in some cases under the loose bark of dead trees in arboreal areas but they are also regularly found in the crevices of rocks. For example, a 1952 article by Robert E. Gordon, a Naturalist at the Highlands Biological Station in North Carolina managed by the Biology Department of the University of Georgia, Athens, he describes crevices to be the preferred habitat. The abstract of Gordon’s study states

Limestone Creek, Pine Mountain Settlement School. Photo by HWykle. [P1130801.jpg]

In eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia and adjacent portions of Tennessee Aneides aeneus is found to occur in an arboreal or arboreal-rock crevice habitat. Its habitat in all other portions of its range is chiefly rock crevices. The region of arboreal habitat coincides with the undifferentiated mixed mesophytic forest [of Emma Lucy] Braun,] while the rock habitat generally occurs in regions of segregated forests of the mixed mesophytic type. 

Robert E. Gordon. The American Midland Naturalist Vol. 47, No. 3 (May, 1952), pp. 666-701

While Pope focused on the arboreal habitat, he seems to have had some difficulty identifying the names of trees in his field notes and relied on the information given by one of Pine Mountain’s students. He says

Unfortunately, only the popular names of the trees on which my series were taken can be given though these may be relied upon because they were verified by an advanced student of the Settlement School.

12 examples were living in chestnut
8 or 9 examples were living on white walnut
5 examples were living on water oak
4 examples were living on maple
2 examples were living on poplar
2 examples were living on basswood
1 example was living on pine
1 example was living in a decayed log

Three additional specimens were found on logs which I failed to identify. The names of at least two of these undetermined logs would be included in the above list. The great number of fallen chestnuts on Pine Mountain mayaccount for their heading the list.

Pope, p. 8

While salamanders have the reputation of being indestructible — going through fire and not being burned, etc., today their numbers are on the decline. In the mid-1970’s the Aneides aeneus that Pope and other found fascinating, started to experience a decline and some call it a population collapse in many of it common ranges. Those who have been monitoring the main 7 green salamander populations have documented “… a 98% decline in relative abundance since 1970.” The decline is remarkably rapid and a novel agent is suspected. Some agents under consideration are climate change, epidemic disease, and over-collecting by pet enthusiasts. [See: Corser, Jeffrey D. “Decline of disjunct green salamander (Aneides aeneus) populations in the southern Appalachians,” Biological Conservation 97(1):119-126.

SEE ALSO:

CLIFFORD POPE Salamanders

EE STREAM ECOLOGY Hop-Scotch 

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Gospel of the Clean Plate

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series: DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH
Foodways

FOOD CHALLENGE AND WWI “THE GOSPEL OF THE CLEAN PLATE”

By 1916 it was clear that Pine Mountain Settlement School was food challenged and more ways were needed to supply the workers and children with a sustainable and nutritious diet that would go beyond the current mountain practices.  By 1917 the challenges and food shortages of WWI were being felt across the country and Pine Mountain joined thousands of institutions in subscribing to President Woodrow Wilson’s programs to conserve food.  Administered by Herbert Hoover, the “Gospel of the Clean Plate,” was started as an attempt to ensure that there would be adequate food for the troops and for the Europeans caught up in WWI.  The government designed a program for certain days to be “meatless, sweetless, wheatless and porkless.” Each state was charged to oversee the program and to monitor commercial businesses and restaurants.

The staff at Pine Mountain followed the war efforts intently, as did many Americans. Many of the staff came from missionary families, and were familiar with many of the dynamics of the European conflicts. One staff, in particular, was following the war daily. Leon Deschamps, a Belgian, still had family in Belgium and watched the war unfold with great anxiety.  In May of 1917, the strain was too much and he left the School to fight in the Great War for his homeland.  Deschamps was much admired by the staff and students at the school.  He was a vital part of the farming activity at the school and when he left his departure left a void and not just a little anxiety. Before he left, Deschamps made sure that  Pine Mountain understood that he would return following the end of conflict. He also made sure that the School was committed to the support of  the Belgian Relief Fund. Deschamps, as the school’s forester and farmer knew what the loss of a farmer at Pine Mountain meant, but his need to join the war effort was overwhelming and immediate,   Mr. Baugh, who had worked with him, assumed his responsibilities in the forest and the farm and the campus had Deschamps promise to retrun to Pine Mountain following the end of the conflict. His strong belief in the war effort and his subsequent departure stirred many students to action to support the War and was their first introduction to a world “beyond the seas.”

The children began to imagine Mr. Deschamps in the fields of war and for them, Belgium became a real place.  A campaign was put into place by the students, not just the staff. They determined to save money for the War effort, and particularly for Belgium, by rationing themselves once a week.  This rationing included adhering to the “Clean Plate Club”.  The children took the idea one step further.

On a chosen day, the children planned to forego their meal and to substitute a lean fare of rice with cocoa rather than a full course meal.  These rice and cocoa meals were adopted following WWI for other occasions when the Schoolchildren adopted some cause which required saving money.  For example, the swimming pool was a rice and cocoa student project but clearly, other campaigns held little persuasion alongside the looming disaster in Europe and the danger to one of their own — the forester and farmer, Leon Deschamps.

“JUST THE WAY I LIKE IT!”

The students at Pine Mountain were well prepared to be “Clean Plate” eaters as one of the rules of the School was that all students must eat at least three bites of the food served to them. The story is told of a young boy who was served some soup from the communal large bowl at the center of the dining table. As he lifted the spoon to his mouth and took the first taste he quickly offered his uncensored opinion. “It tastes like soap!” he exclaimed. Somewhere in the depths of the kitchen a soap bar had inadvertently fallen into the soup pot. The young boy, startled all the children as no one was to comment on their like and dislike of any one food. He looked around the table at his fellow diners and quickly recovered, “And, that’s just the way I like it!” he said as he looked sharply at the supervising staff at the table and continued to slurp the offensive soup.

The Clean Plate Club asked that America, ” Leave a clean dinner plate. Take only such food as you will eat. Thousands are starving in Europe.”

Clean Plate Club

PRACTICE HOUSE/MODEL HOME/COUNTRY COTTAGE

Another piece of the effort to promote the “Gospel of the Clean Plate” was the industrial training that young women received at Practice House, the home economics training center at the School.  Practice House, also called Model Home and Country Cottage was built with funds that were donated to the School by the New York Auxilliary of the Southern Industrial Educational Association.  The donation was a testimony to their very active woman NYC President, Mrs. Algernon S. Sullivan. Mrs. Sullivan was a generous supporter of Pine Mountain Settlement School. The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award is well known in academic circles for its high minded ideals. For example : the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award  is presented to undergraduate seniors at colleges on vote of the faculty for an individual who “exhibits Sullivan’s ideals of heart, mind, and conduct as evidenced by a spirit of love for and helpfulness to others, who ‘excels in high ideals of living, in fine spiritual qualities, and in generous and unselfish service to others.’ ” [Wikipedia]

Practice House/Country Cottage was just that, a place to practice frugality and attention to good housekeeping, gardening, cooking, budgeting, and other household skills. These were the skills that made the difference during war-time. 

Evelyn Wells in her gathered letters and history of the School describes the Practice House in this manner:

“Our Country Cottage aimed to show them [the girls at Pine Mountain] what was good about their own methods, and to introduce to them others that they badly needed to learn.  Some ideas with which we started had to be abandoned, such as well with water running by gravity to the kitchen sink because we could not strike water …”

Cornelia Walker, a Cornell graduate, and our Domestic Science teacher in 1922-1923, was the first hostess.  There followed Mrs. Seidlinger, Mary WorkAnnette Van Bezey, and in 1926, Marguerite Emerson.  During Mrs. Emerson’s regime, the name was changed from the Model Home to the Country Cottage.

No attempt is here made to estimate what this building has meant to the groups of girls who three at a time have spent six weeks in the Country Cottage, cooking, living on a carefully worked out budget, caring for the cow and selling its milk, and entertaining, under the guidance of the housemother.  The garden was also important, and a summer worker has usually (and with varying degrees of success) canned its produce for the family’s winter consumption.

Two lots of lumber were measured out “according to the Country Cottage plan” and were then sold to community families. The house and the terraced gardens were copied by many in the area.

The structure was built between 1922 and 1923 and was then remodeled in 1927 and again in 1951.  It became a staff residence in 1940 and today serves as a residence for various interns at the School.

Evelyn Wells noted that “We regret that as a neighborhood house it has not become the center that was one of its ideals at the first.”

While the home only accommodated three girls at a time, the impact on those three girls was profound and had a lasting effect on the surrounding community. [The girls were rotated through the program for short periods of time.]

[From The Pine Cone,  May 1935, p.3]

    “Groups of four or five girls have lived at Practice House each six weeks period of this school year to learn what they could of home life.  Twenty-eight girls have had the privilege of making it their home this year while at school.

We realize just as a nation is the composite of the states of which it is made, a state is dependent upon the atmosphere of the communities with it and in turn, the atmosphere of a community is the home life in the community.  We feel we can do a little bit of world service by helping to make the girls of Pine Mountain worthy home members.  A worthy home member is one who not only does her share of the work willingly but one who adds to the joy of the home by her desire to do the right thing and by her pleasant courteous manner.

Some of the more immediate aims which we have held before us have been as follows:

1.    The desire and ability to prepare attractive, tasty meals that were well balanced and inexpensive.

2.    The desire and ability to plan and carry on the work in an orderly way.

3.    To develop a feeling of helpfulness, thoughtfulness and interest in others.

4.    Desire to become a socially poised person.

The work has been grouped and each girl has taken her turn at the various types of work to be done in the home life here

BUTCHERING

“Mr. Hayes has been teaching his A-1 and A-2 Agriculture classes how to butcher hogs.  Hence good pork chops and hams appear on the dining table.”

Most all butchering of meats was conducted by the school during the Boarding School years and meats were canned, salt-cured, sometimes frozen, smoked, and sometimes dried.

This recipe for liver-loaf is most likely scaled for calf liver, but pork liver and even chicken livers could be substituted.  The author would have no desire for any!

[From The Pine Cone, April 1934, p.3]

LIVER LOAF – REALLY!?

Liver Loaf

One way to make a popular cut of the animal go ’round!

1 1/2     lbs. liver
1 1/2     cup dry bread crumbs
1-4        cup melted fat
1            egg
1            teaspoon salt
1-8        teaspoon pepper
1           onion  — chopped

Pour boiling water over liver. Let stand five minutes.  Drain and chop fine and  add all other ingredients, mix thoroughly and shape into loaf.  Put into greased baking dish, or lay strips of salt pork or bacon on top, add one cup water, bake one hour, add one cup tomatoes or tomato soup fifteen minutes before taking from the oven.

IN THE KITCHEN

Kitchens in the community varied widely.  Delia Creech, wife of Henry Creech , son of William  and Sally Creech, was known for her frugality and the rich maple sugar she created from the Creech “Sugar Camp”. 

In the photograph below a woman prepares food in a traditional enameled metal bowl.  Sometimes called flow-ware, these enameled metal-ware pots were favorites in Appalachia and in the South at the turn of the century. Either a blue or a red flow-ware color these metal-ware containers were found in many homes and continue to be prized as family keep-sakes. 

On this page below, is Aunt Sal (Sally Creech) seated at her churn in her very tidy kitchen.  In this posed photograph of Sal, she is seated at the churn which was a necessary kitchen tool for all households that owned milk cows.  Tools in most mountain households were often hand-made or were purchased from “Tinkers” who roamed the mountain valley with wares such as tin pans, crockery, and wash-boards. “Tinkers also made it part of their trade to repair items.  Rarely would any item be thrown away and then only if completely broken or ruined.

Kitchens could also be as rudimentary as cast-iron pots on tripods located near the backyard doorway, or they could be fully equipped centers of family life., as seen in this photograph.  The dangers associated with yard kitchens, the soap pots, and the “blue” pots (indigo dye pots), often located in the yard, are obvious. Small children and adults frequently suffered scalds and burns from these open-air kitchens.  A daughter of Aunt Sal was scalded and died from the burns.  The luxury of an indoor kitchen was only for those whose home was large enough to accommodate an indoor cooking space.  More frequently, the fireplace was a center of household meals and large cast iron pots hanging on hooks or settled on stones, or buried in cinders, were sources of family meals.   This kind of cooking encouraged stews, soups, and simple baked goods.

HOME ECONOMICS RECIPES

A variation of the old  and well-known favorite:

Spider Corn Bread

1 3/4     cups of milk
1             egg
1             cup corn meal
1-3         cup of flour
2             tablespoons sugar
1             teaspoon salt
2             teaspoons baking powder
1             tablespoon fat

Beat egg and add one cup milk;  stir in corn meal, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder which have been sifted together;  turn into a heavy, new frying pan in which the fat has been melted;  pour in remainder of milk but do not stir it.  Bake about twenty-five minutes in a hot oven.  There should be a line of creamy custard through the bread.  Cut like pie and serve hot.

Don’t let an aversion to spiders  or bugs stop a trial of this corn-meal bread. It is delicious!

One of the goals in later years was to provide at least a quart of milk per person per day. Further, the staff was allotted quarts through the end of the Boarding School years (1949) This supplement, no doubt, was a great off-set for the prior Great Depression years as well as both World Wars. 

Meals at Pine Mountain cost the school 33 cents per person per day in 1925 and “it requires great skill and ingenuity to serve interesting food for this sum of money, in a place where there is no ice, and no market where the fresh meat is local beef or pork possible only in cold weather.  Miss Gains, [Ruth B. Gaines]  who has been with us thirteen years, has developed so unusual an ability in dealing with these circumscribed conditions that she has often been urged to get up an institutional cookbook for others up against such difficulties as we have .”

RUTH GAINS MENUS

Miss Ruth Gaines menus for yesterday and today:

BREAKFAST

1.  oatmeal, stewed prunes biscuits with butter substitute

2. Cream of wheat, cocoa, biscuits with butter substitute

DINNER

1. Chicken and rice loaf, creamed turnips, chopped cabbage and celery, soup beans, cornbread, chocolate pudding

        2. Creamed tuna fist, sweet potatoes, green beans, cold slaw, cornbread, jello

       SUPPER

       1. Rice and milk, cornbread, canned pineapple

       2. Potato salad, cornbread, one-egg cake

Our main dishes for dinner are wonderful mixtures of fish and potato, rice and tomato, cheese and bacon. Variety at breakfast comes with fish-cakes, potato cakes, French cream toast, and at supper with a vegetable or cream soup, a bean or potato salad. “

[Worker letter, n.d., source unknown]

OLD LAUREL HOUSE

Kitchen in Old Laurel House

The earliest kitchen at the school was very rudimentary until a new kitchen was planned and included in the first  central dining and community building called ‘Laurel House.’  For the day, it was a state of the art facility and was equipped to accommodate the growing population of the school.  The fire that destroyed this first Laurel House in 1943 was a tragedy in many ways.  It seriously disrupted the food supply at the school and the loss of life in the tragic fire was emotionally devastating for many who worked and knew the students who died in the fire.   While it may be suspected that the fire began in the kitchen, it is known that was not the case and that the small living quarters in the building was the source of the fire.

GIRL’S HOME ECONOMIC CLASS 1934

The Girl’s Home Economic Class of the tenth grade, under the guidance of Miss Smith has been making Menus for the day and testing them by the following rules:

1.   Distribute the protein, carbohydrates and fats equally throughout the day

2.   Do not serve the same food twice in one day.

3.   Do not serve more than one strongly flavored food at a meal.

4.   Balance the soft, solid and crisp foods.

5.   Do not serve several acids or sweet foods at one meal.

6.   Season foods mildly, but tastily.

7.   Serve left-overs in a new form and always attractively.

8.   Greasy meats and vegetables and poorly seasoned foods are not appetizing.

9…Include daily —

(a)  One quart of milk for each child and one pint for adult.

(b)  Two vegetables besides potatoes. (one raw)

(c)   Two Fruits.  (one raw)

(d)  Whole ceral in some form.

(f)   One egg and a serving of meat for an adult.

10.  Serve light desserts,  as fruit or milk pudding with heavy meals.

11.  Serve heavy desserts, such as, pie or cake with light meals.

12.  Serve only one relish or jam at a meal.

13.  Avoid serving colorless meals.

14.  Plan simple meals.

15.  Consider the cost carefully.

 MINTED CARROTS

2 cups grated raw or cooked carrots
1 cup water
4 tablespoonfuls sugar
4 tablespoonfuls chopped mint leaves
4 tablespoonfuls butter

Cook the water and sugar until syrup like.  Stir in the butter and add the mint leaves.  Pour over the carrots and serve.

The family will not object to carrots when served in this interesting way.

The Pine Cone,
February 1934

STOVES

When coal stoves with ovens became more common-place and could be afforded, baking was a point of pride for most mountain households .  The regulation of heat in the coal oven was an art but once mastered the cook would rarely trade up for the newer ovens.  Electric ovens became a part of some households when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) brought electricity to the Pine Mountain valley.  Through the Rural Electric Cooperative (REC), often referred to as the REA, or Rural Electric Association, a part of the New Deal programs of the late 1930s, many household routines changed, but life in the kitchen was very slow to change. While the electric stove became a regular household item following WWII it was slow to be adopted in the Appalachians.  Propane gas stoves were used by some mountain families, but by far the most frequent home stove found in mountain communities until well into the 1950’s, was the coal stove. 

Pine Mountain was fortunate to have a superbly equipped kitchen in the Old Laurel  House and there the coal stove was a central source of fresh baked breads. The kitchen was staffed with a dietitian who was an important member of both the dietary health of the school and the homemaker educational programs during the Boarding School years.

The Pine Cone, Dec. 1934

MAPLE SUGAR MAKING IN THE KENTUCKY MOUNTAINS

“The time for making Maple sugar is during the months of February  and March.  The sap “startups” at this time.  The trees are “tapped” and the sap is collected in a pail. Tapping is accomplished by boring a hole in the tree, driving a spout in and hanging a bucket on it.  The sap looks like clear water but has a sweet taste.

Somewhere in the maple grove, there is a small shed, a “sugar camp” as it is called, to shelter the furnace, a large supply of wood and the evaporating pan.

When the sap buckets are full they are either carried to the camp by hand or the sap is sent through gutters. It is “boiled down” to a thin syrup and then it is taken out and boilded down to sugar in small pans.

It takes 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup ready for table use and a gallon of syrup will make about two pounds of sugar. “

[The Pine Cone,      date????]

MOLASSES STIR-OFFS

Making molasses was another labor-intensive activity at Pine Mountain.  The Creech family, near the school, almost always raised sugar cane, the source of the liquid used to create molasses.

First, the cane was harvested while still green but mature. Then, the cane was trimmed of leaves and bundles of canes were placed in a mill where the canes were crushed to extract the juice of the plant.  The juice was funneled into containers and then deposited into a large iron pot or a flat metal pan that was positioned over a continuous fire.  The pot or pan of cane juice was allowed to boil until it became sugar sweet, concentrated and thick. The foam on the top of the syrup was constantly dipped off the boiling molasses. Most often this was everyone’s job and a most rewarding of jobs.  The foam sticks to the canes dipped into the molasses and make a sweet treat for all who come to  “Stir-Off” the sorghum.

The young molasses is called “Sorghum.” It is sweet, light, and gentle in flavor.  When the molasses is cooked more, the syrup became more concentrated and heavier in flavor and sugar. This dark molasses is the bulk of the molasses-making process.  This very dark molasses, usually at the bottom of the pot, is referred to as “black-strap molasses” and the strong flavor of this residue was sometimes added to corn silage for the livestock. It to sweetened it and encouraged the fermentation of the chopped silage which was generally made from green corn stalks. The Gospel of the Clean Plate was not just for those seated at a table, it carried over into every aspect of growing, preparing, and making more palatable nature’s bounty.

“JUST THE WAY I LIKE IT”

hw/2019-06-10

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Pigs

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series: Blogs
DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH

PIGS

TAGS: pigs; shoats; pork; ham; Sammy; Evangeline Bishop; children’s literature; kindergarten teachers; Little School; Pine Mountain Settlement School; Harlan County, KY; Kentucky Statute 256.090;

23_campus_work_049

TRANSCRIPTION

November 13, 1913

My Dear Friend:

The problem of a fence is confronting us now. Our kindergarten teacher who was here this summer was so diverted by our efforts to protect our garden, our crop and our grounds from the hogs that she wrote the enclosed account of the pig that interested her the most. Just how pronounced a pig’s personality is, you can guess from the fact that she even had to name them.

We are anxiously questioning just how long we must wait until “Sammy” and “his brothers and his sisters and his aunts” are excluded from their paradise.

We need a mile of fencing for the part of our 234 acres that we must fence. We can get a discount of from a generous manufacturer of the best hog-proof fencing, but even so, counting the cost of locust posts gates and post holes dug on steep ground, we need $700 before we begin. If you can’t be a “flying figure in bluejeans yelling ‘Suey!, Suey!, can you be a substitute in the shape of some rods of woven wire, five foot fence?

Faithfully yours,
Katherine Pettit

enclosure: Story of “Sammy” by Evangeline Bishop

SAMMY

Just why Pine Mountain Settlement School should not benefit himself and family, as well as the humans of the community, was quite beyond Sammy’s comprehension.

Did he not possess cravings and unsatisfied longings for better things; did he not come to the close of each day hungry for the unattainable; and had he not heard that this School existed for the sole purpose of fulfilling needs?

The word “Settlement” but added charm, for to Sammy it gave visions of permanency and far reaching satisfaction. Yes! It was certainly good to be alive, and a member of this community, and he firmly resolved to be on hand every day, rain or shine in a receptive mood, ready to embrace every opportunity. To be filled to the utmost was his great ambition.

He and his brothers and sisters and immediate forebear grunted the subject over pro and con in their rock house under the cliff. Mammy Pig wise in the ways of humans, flopped her ears in doubt.

“It may prove to be an excellent school, it may fill every unsatisfied gnawing, but, I have my doubts.”

“One  and all I warn you to let them alone, for I have not only heard, but absolutely know, that humans eat little pigs.”

A tremor shot through the group, they glanced at one another with beady eyes, and uncurled their tails in horror.

Maternal advice did not cause Sammy loss of sleep, or deter him from making a personal investigation of the School.

The next morning, slipping quietly away, he trotted down the road, his tail curled tight in anticipation, and emitting grunts of keenest pleasure. With hope, confidence in himself and humanity at large, he made his way up the stepping stones toward a very large hole in the fence.

He was about to enter, when a voice rang  out —

“Walter! Walter! shut the gate, there’s a pig coming in.”

“Ugh,” grunted Sammy, “That must mean me, but why shouldn’t I enter the Land of Promise, I’d like to know?” and determinedly he trotted on.

Suddenly he wheeled and flew down the steps a flying figure in bluejeans after him, wildly waving its arms, throwing stones, and yelling, “Suey! Suey!” which interpreted by Sammy meant “Move on! Move on!”

“What highly excitable creatures humans are, ” thought Sammy as out of harm’s way he turned to view the “Land of Plenty.” 

The hole in the fence had disappeared. “Guess I’ll reconnoiter,” thought Sammy. “Perhaps there’s another hole.”

Cautiously he worked his way along the fence, touching it here and there, hoping a large hole might somehow mysteriously appear. Perseverance usually succeeds, and so it proved in Sammy’s case, for under the fence he found a hole just large enough to squeeze thro[ugh]. Elated, but a little doubtful, he made his way around the house. Not a human in sight. Hope beat high. A bucket near the kitchen door wafted most tantalizing odors to Sammy’s nostrils. What could it be? He must find out what that pail contained.

In another moment it was over, and Sammy gorging himself with all possible speed, for at any moment a dreaded human might appear. Never had he found anything quite so palatable. A few bread crumbs, potato peeling, beet parings, apple cores odds and ends of various delicious things hastily thrown together. So busy was the beneficiary of the School that he failed to hear approaching footsteps, but did not fail to hear another voice rending the air wit h “Allafair!  Allafair! here’s that pig again. he’s eating the chicken-feed up.”

2.

Around the corner shot a vision in flaming red, going through wild gymnastics.

“This is too much, I’m done for,” thought Sammy, and turned and fled.

“I wonder if I can ever find that hole again.”

Up the hill and down again, around the hose, and back of the tent, flew the pursued Sammy, wondering if that human’s attention would never cease.  It was simply awful! Horrors! another flying figure blotting the landscape shrieking ad passing through dreadful contortions. Stones and sticks rained through the air. With dreadful cunning Sammy’s every move was maneuvered. Before him appeared the big hole he now knew to be a gate. He made for it with all speed and shot through breathless but unharmed.

“Well! I never,” quoth Sammy. “I trust this will not occur often or I shall certainly lose flesh.”

He found a secluded spot, within hearing and paid strict attention. A voice explained —

“Well! Our troubles have begun. I expect we’ll be pestered all summer with those pigs.” Another voice chimed in —

“Everyone must be careful to keep the gate closed and the boys must look at the fence and fix any holes.”

“Oh dear! I do hope they won’t get into the garden and eat the tomatoes and corn up.”

Sammy had had excitement enough for one day, so wended his way slowly home to the rock house, under the cliff, there to consult further with his family and plan his summer’s campaign. If there was benefit to be derived from that school, he would get it.

The next day he unselfishly invited two of his brothers to accompany him. They arrived just in time to see a human in blue cross the road with a dish in her hand, and to hear, 

“Bertha, where are you going??”

“I’m going to feed the chickens” replied the blue human, and proceeded on her way.

“Chicken-feed,” mused Sammy. “Ugh! that’s what I ate yesterday and found good.” Aloud he said —

“Watch that human fellow, and see what she does with that chicken feed.”

Quietly they watched her pass through a gate, and disappear around the corner of a building. Then began a hurried running to and fro along the fence, in quest of a hole.

“Ugh! Ugh! Eureka! Eureka!” called Sammy. This way fellows to the chicken-feed,” and in another moment the feed was disappearing with surprising rapidity, but not in the direction intended.

” I thoroughly approve of this School, for the benefits it bestows are, —- ” Sammy’s remarks were cut short, for another shrieking human in a blue skirt and flapping collar, bore down upon the trio. They scattered and fled in confusion.

“Well! ” quoth Sammy from a safe retreat, “I am both surprised and horrified at the actions of these humans.  had heard they possessed calm and were dignified. I have also heard that they sometimes go crazy. I wonder if that is what the trouble is. It does seem strange that just the sight of e should throw them all into convulsions?”

“Perhaps there is something wrong with me.” Carefully he looked himself over and found to his entire satisfaction his tail properly curled, and himself a fair looking specimen of razorback pighood Therefore no blame could attach to him because of those queer human antics.

Day after day, week in and week out, he visited the School accepting of its benefits as the occasion presented itself.

3.

Day after day, week in and week out, the same wild commotion resulted among the humans.

He overheard someone say the back yard needed cleaning up. He concluded here was a chance to return good for evil, found an entrance, and went to work, beginning on a basket of apples. For his efforts he received a stone, and a hurried “Suey! — Suey!” with emphasis.

He brought his whole family down and strove to put the chicken yard in order even here the ungrateful humans interfered. Nothing daunted he retired to the barn ad invited his brothers to help him clean out the mules’ feed boxes, and so save them the trouble. But even in that remote spot peace was not to be found.

Go where he would, do what he could, the situation was spoiled by the sudden appearance of a wild and exclamatory human.

One day he bethought himself of the remarks he had heard earlier in the season, of a garden and tomatoes, corn, etc. 

He would investigate immediately.

He consulted his mother. She knew where said garden was, but warned him to let well enough alone, but perseverance being Sammy’s strongest characteristic it fairly pushed him into that garden.

It is wholly unnecessary to linger long upon the consternation and sorrow created among the humans; the havoc wrought by Sammy and his immediate relatives, or his own personal inner satisfaction, at this his latest venture.

Could he have heard the sadness and longing in the vices of the humans, whose sole vegetable diet for weeks had consisted of string beans or beheld their woebegone countenance as they contemplated the work of his mouth, and thought upon the cool, green vegetables that had disappeared into the stomachs of his family, Sammy might have been struck with contrition for the havoc of his summer’s campaign.

As it was, the garden was far from the School proper and only occasionally did a peculiar human wander through, and Sammy was happy.

All good things come to an end sometime, and one sad day Sammy heard that a brand new wire fence that pigs could neither get over, through or under was wanted.

A consultation of the Pig family resulted. Sammy’s only comment was 

“Well This certainly has been a strenuous summer for me and from a pig’s standpoint, I question the wisdom of that School. Personally, I do not care to come into close contact with those humans and certainly hope I have caused them fully as much trouble this summer as they have caused me.”

Turning over on his side he went to sleep to dream of a fenceless garden, filled with every known vegetable, rich pans of chicken-feed here and there, and whole boxes of mule feed just waiting for him, and best of all this pigs’ paradise utterly devoid of humans. 

Dear Friend Letters: Evangeline Bishop

KENTUCKY STATE FENCE LAWS 1942 –

By the 1930’s and 40’s the Kentucky regulations controlling the free-roaming movement of livestock had been addressed and there were laws that prohibited free-ranging animals and addressed strays and trespassing.

The laws governing stray animals and trespass are spelled out in the State’s Fence Laws, State of Kentucky These laws went into effect in 1942

If the owner or bailee of livestock has a lawful fence, and his or her livestock break through or over the fence and upon the premises of another which are not enclosed by a lawful fence, he or she shall not be responsible for the first trespass but shall be liable for all subsequent trespasses.
Effective: June 29, 2017

Terms Used In Kentucky Statute 256.090

  • Lawful fence: means : (a) A strong and sound fence, four (4) feet high, so close that cattle cannot creep through, made of rails, or plank, or wire and plank, or iron, or hedge, or stone or brick. See Kentucky Statutes 256.010
  • livestock: means cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses, alpacas, llamas, buffaloes, or any other animals of the bovine, ovine, porcine, caprine, equine, or camelid species. See Kentucky Statutes 256.010
  • Owner: when applied to any animal, means any person having a property interest in such animal. See Kentucky Statutes 446.010

History: Amended 2017 Ky. Acts ch. 129, sec. 25, effective June 29, 2017. — Recodified 1942 Ky. Acts ch. 208, sec. 1, effective October 1, 1942, from Ky. Stat. sec. 1788.

23_campus_work_048 Shoats (baby pigs) at PMSS

See  DEAR FRIEND LETTERS – INDEX

         DEAR FRIENDS LETTERS 1913

         DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH In The Dining Room, Manners and Etiquette

TABLE ETIQUETTE 

rood_062

Over the years table manners were taken very seriously at Pine Mountain.  As all meals early in the School’s history as a boarding school were served “family style” at large round tables that could hold up to eight students.  The need for decorum in these group settings was soon evident.  In these earlier years when young children made up the majority of the population, the need for supervision at each of the tables was evident.  Each table included a staff member who would model table manners and would remind any child whose comportment was lacking, that there were better behaviors to strive for. Soon rules were instituted for table behavior and amended over the years to accommodate behaviors that “came along” with new populations and older students. One of the most egregious offenses was “putting your knife in your mouth” or “eating with a knife”.

“I like my peas with honey
I’ve liked it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny
But it keeps them on my knife!”

This ditty was often quoted with humor by many Pine Mountain students and no doubt called to mind the admonishment of NEVER eat with one’s knife. Never put your knife in your mouth!

Another table rule was that no matter how bad the food tasted to the student, they were never to complain about the food.  A recurring tale is told of a student who was having trouble with the new food he encountered at the School.  In  the kitchen, a small bar of home-made soap had somehow slipped into a soup pot and the soup found it’s way to the table.  A young man at the table took his first spoon-full and exclaimed, “This tastes like soap!” Silence and startled looks greeted his exclamation.  He quickly recovered, again exclaiming, “And, that’s just the way I like it!”

Every student at Pine Mountain Settlement was expected to also abide by what was called the “Three Bite” rule. The rule mandated that any food placed in front of the student was expected to be sampled by the student.  They were to take at least three bites of the “new” food and failure to do so was duly noted by their fellow students as well as the staff.  Failure to comply resulted in an end to the meal for the student. Many students would later say that was how they learned to like food unfamiliar to them.  Some recall this “Three Bite” rule with less fondness. Canned chard never became a favorite and there were many plots and maneuvers to avoid eating this limpid vegetable.

RULES

Certainly the three “rules” noted above, seem reasonable for those early years, but those examples are only three of 39 rules associated with dining at Laurel House that were mandated in 1921! Some of the 39 were not so reasonable.

The documented rules were addressed to those dining as well as those serving the tables.

September 6, 1921

  1. Good manners begin on the porch. Be orderly and quiet. Don’t run through the dining room.
  2. Leave Laurel House promptly after meals.
  3. Observe good manners in the pantry too.
  4. Take three bites of every thing offered. This is in order to learn to like it if you don’t, and to be polite to the cook.
  5. Eat everything on your plate.
  6. Take small bites, but not too small.
  7. Chew everything well, with your lips closed.
  8. Don’t talk while you are waiting on the table.
  9. Sit up straight at a convenient distance from the table; keep arms off the table and feet off table rungs and chairs.
  10. Don’t talk or drink water when your mouth is full.
  11. Wait till the server is ready to eat before you begin.
  12. Clap only when it is appropriate, and don’t clap too much.
  13. Don’t reach in front of anyone.
  14. Don’t tip your chair.
  15. Don’t turn around and stare at the other tables. 
  16. Keep the table neat. Beware of crumbs!
  17. Leave the chairs straight when you are excused.
  18. Discuss only pleasant things at the table.
  19. Don’t whisper, or talk to your next neighbor alone.
  20. Be considerate of the other people at the table.
  21. Wait patiently while the table is being served.
  22. Enjoy the amount of food served to you.
  23. Break up large pieces of food into convenient sizes.
  24. Avoid calling attention to the bad manners of others. And, be a perfect example youself.
  25. Do not wait on the table when your mouth is full.
  26. Do not play with the silver.
  27. Do your best to make every meal pleasant. 
  28. Join in the blessing.
  29. Be sure to say “thank you” and “excuse me” and “please often enough.
  30. Come to the table with your face and hands clean.

By the late 1930’s some of this early discipline began to break down as the age of the student crept upward and some began to assert themselves or insist on their learned habits.  In a memo from Glyn Morris, Director dictated to his secretary Fern Hall, he sends notes to staff charged with overseeing the Dining Hall in Laurel House. In this case the note is to John Spelman III. It reads

Notes from Staff Meeting held in Laurel House, April 2.

Mr. Morris requested that we watch the conduct in the dining room.
He mentioned such things as:

         excessive noise
         starting to eat before the hostess
         unnecessary amounts of going to and from the kitchen

Fern Hall, 
Sec.

THE DIETITIANS

Dietitians rule at Pine Mountain. The Kitchen and the services associated with feeding students are unrelenting and critical to over-all well-being of the School. Attention to the dining decorum at the School was often front and center and there are several documents that spell out the rules of the table and one of them, importantly, is “Be polite to the cook.”

One of the longest reigning dietitians at Pine Mountain was Berdina Bishop.  Like many of the women who assumed this role at Pine Mountain School, she was not trained as a dietitian but quickly showed her skills at this complex task. She writes in her dietician notes of the experiences in the kitchen. Her notes, found in a large scrapbook and an album she donated to the School, and in the gathered reports she was required to submit regularly to the Director, demonstrate her eye for detail.  Her large Scrapbook contains many of her memories of her Pine Mountain years and it is within this tome that we find some of the records she kept of her kitchen years. Her records and reports to the Directors she served are found scattered throughout her record. The reports to the Director also provide a cost accounting of foodways at the School. Her reports join those of dieticians who preceded and followed her and track the growing cost of feeding students and staff at the institution. 

Other notable dietitians include Bertha Cold, sister of Edith Cold; Georgia Ayers Dodd; Chloe Hayes-Bunch, and others. During the two World Wars, several staff, such as teacher Louise Fliermans, were given that difficult task with little preparation. Much more may be learned about the Dining Room at Pine Mountain and ettiquite and manners by consulting the various biographies of those who worked in the kitchen and dining area.

DINING IN THE COMMUNITY SCHOOL YEARS

During the Community School years (1949-1963)  at Pine Mountain, dining began to more closely follow that found in grade-schools throughout the country.  However, as can be seen in the photograph that introduces this blog, the tables were still set for dining with plates, saucers, silverware and napkins properly places for each student. Each child would take their plate through a “cafeteria” line where they received the main offering of the day.  

Grace M. Rood (back to camera) at Laurel House II dining hall. Grace Rood Album. [rood_043.jpg]

What is missing in the later years is the presence of an adult at each table.  Modeling behaviors and monitoring eating habits was done at a distance. At a long table, seen in the background of the photograph, some of the staff may be seen. The placement of students and staff today who gather as part of the very active Environmental Education programs at the School, looks much as it did during the Community School period.  One of the noticable differences today is the use of sectioned cafeteria trays used by all diners. All visitors and staff continue to bus their dinner ware.

In the dining room the beautiful multi-purpose tables from the very earliest years are still in constant  use. The tops of the tables tilt to full upright and becomes a seat which can then be used on the dance floor when folk-dancing is introduced following the meal. The hickory cane bottomed chairs are still found throughout the dining room.  Notoriously easy to up-end, the chairs now are more frequently heard hitting the floor as children are more accustomed to heavier seating. Another observation is that the noise level of the children has gradually increased and echoes off the walls of the dining room.  The excited and animated conversations are also often punctuated by some child leaning too heavily on the tilt-top of the table causing it to “slap” back down on the base. As children compete to be heard, the loud voices fill the room. The auditory experience in the dining room has changed dramatically from the earlier years when children were quickly quieted. Shouting and raising the voice in the dining room was monitored by all present and quickly corrected by staff and by the children themselves.

Dining room at Laurel House, today. Environmental education classes

While the 3-bite rule has faded away for most children dining at Pine Mountain today, another rule has been instituted. That rule is to refuse or not ask for food that will not be eaten. The food waste at the end of each meal for the student groups is scraped into a special bin and the scraps are weighed for each visiting school for each meal. Remarkably, the Gospel of the Clean Plate ideal has been reach by some remarkable school groups that have had “0” waste at their meals and have set a record for other schools to emulate. Further, each student in today’s dining hall is asked to bus their own tray and to assist the kitchen staff in the important job of sweeping floors, cleaning tables and straightening chairs after dining. Katherine Pettit is probably smiling at this continuation of individual disciplined responsibility which she attached to every activity.

GALLERY

 

GO TO:   

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH   About

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH  I Guide

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH II   Introduction

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH  In the Garden

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH  In the Kitchen Pots and Pans

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH   Dieticians

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH  In the Dining Room, Manners and Etiquette 

        DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH  Gospel of the Clean Plate

        FOODWAYS Overview

        FOODWAYS Essential Foods at Pine Mountain Settlement School

        FOODWAYS An Old Fashioned Dinner March 14, 1919


DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Guide

Pine Mountain Settlement School
DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH GUIDE

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Guide

Essays on, agrarian myths, agriculture, culture, farming, foodways, feed-sack, furs and silk, gardens and seeds, kitchens, kindergartens, migration, miners, mining, mores and manners, politics, possibilities, poppets and play-pretties, sheriffs, religion, settlement schools, communists and conservatives, hippies, hi-jinks, and other topics at the Pine Mountain Settlement School, Harlan County, Kentucky 1913 – present. 

Cabbage patch below Grapevine Knoll, PMSS c. 1915
Dancing in the Cabbage Patch

GUIDE

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Guide

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH I  About

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH II  Introduction

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH III  Place

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH  Farming the Land 1913-1930

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH  Farm and Dairy Early Years I

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH  Farm and Dairy Early Years II 

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH  Farm and Dairy Morris Years III

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Cows

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Going and Coming Back I

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Going and Coming Back II

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH  In the Kitchen Pots and Pans 

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Laden Trail or The Road 

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH  Maple Syrup and Sugar

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Mexico and Pine Mountain Settlement School 1936

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Poultry

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH  Sorghum Molasses Stir-Off I

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Sorghum Molasses Stir-Off II

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH War and PMSS

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Weaving