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”

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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;

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 ad 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 ad 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 i 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 engter, when a voie 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 dow the stpsm a flying figure i 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 quit 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 hims 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 fee 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 fellows, 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 razor back 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 iut 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 nor 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

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 allowing free-ranging.

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 Statutes 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
         DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH

VALENTINES From the Past

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel, Students

VALENTINES FROM THE PAST

Tags: valentines from the past, staff, students, community, valentine cards, excerpts, Stapleton reports, sugar-cookies, valentine parties, Pine Cone, Alice Cobb, Edith Cold, crafts, Community Group, Co-op program, Margaret Kraatz Wright, love letters


In various ways, the PMSS staff, students and community of the past have sent us valentines. Through letters, narratives, publications, photographs and reports, they told us who they were and how they lived and worked. And throughout the 100-plus years of the Pine Mountain Settlement School’s existence, forward-thinking people saved these treasures so that succeeding generations may gain a deeper understanding of days gone by.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, here are a few valentines from the past … about valentines:

STAPLETON REPORT 1928 – February

Valentine, c. 1930. Source:
Chordboard [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Ira Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton worked at the Line Fork Medical Settlement from 1926 through 1937. Dr. Stapleton sent reports back to their employer, Katherine Pettit, and the PMSS Board of Trustees on a quarterly and monthly basis. The reports detailed much about dealing with the many health issues they encountered but they also recorded their daily interactions with members of the local community. In a 1928 report, Dr. Ira Stapleton wrote:

I made some Valentine sugar-cookies and they were so good Grandpap and Bennet “‘lowed they must have come from the store.” I felt quite complimented as I do not make cookies very often….Finding two heart-shaped cookie cutters among the kitchen furnishings I was tempted to make some for the school children at Bear Branch and there was enough for the birthday-man also. The smaller was placed on top of the larger one and when baked stood out in a pretty relief.

Valentine Party: PINE CONE 1933 March

Scan of a Valentine greeting card depicting Cupids circa 1900. By Chordboard - Self, from material in my possession. Public Domain.[https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4310719]
Valentine, c. 1900. Source: Chordboard [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

THE PINE CONE was a literary publication written and published by PMSS students during the Boarding School years and intermittently printed in later years. The Pine Cone was also printed as a general newsletter with the first publication produced in 1929. Here is one of the articles appearing on page 3 in the March 1933 issue.

VALENTINE PARTY
Great was our delight when we each received an invitation to go the Valentine Party in costume Saturday night, Feb. 18. We went and had a good time playing games. Refreshments were served and prizes were given for the funniest, best costumed, prettiest and those who came the nearest pinning on the tail of a donkey in the right place. There was a good place for fishing so we fished for our fortunes. My! I hope some of them don’t come true.

Valentine Cards: ALICE COBB STORIES Handing Over Divide Sunday School to Miss Cold, June 1937

Scan of a Valentine greeting card circa 1920.
Valentine, c. 1920. Source: Chordboard [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In Alice Cobb’s letter to Edith Cold, who was replacing Miss Cobb as a Sunday School teacher, she describes the part of the Sunday School schedule during which the children do “handwork.”  

There are plenty of scissors, crayons, and pencils in the Sunday School shelf, a few Sunday School papers, lots of blank paper, and some valentine, birthday, and Easter cards. I use the Christmas cards every week. They simply love them, and look forward to a card with the paper. To show how much they treasure even the most worthless thing — I gave one of the little boys a handful of scraps from the drawer to put in the stove, and he asked if he might have them to take home!

Valentine Cards: COMMUNITY GROUP ASSEMBLY May 20, 1942

Valentine, c. 1915. Source: Missouri History Museum via Wikimedia Commons

First-hand accounts, written by students and presented at the Community Group Assembly, describe their part in the work of the Community Group and the Co-op program at Pine Mountain that took the students out into the community to work with families. Here is an excerpt from a report presented by Flora Mae Ford:

School is no more than well started when along comes the succession of holidays — Columbus Day, Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine Day, and Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays, Easter — and the teachers are anxious to have room decorations made, the children want to make mementos of those days to take home, too. … Of course there is no greater joy for us than when we prepare a Christmas treat for each child and deliver it on the last visit before the vacation — unless it’s when the valentine box is opened and we find lots of valentines (the kinds we have taught them to make) addressed to us.

Love Letters: MARGARET KRAATZ WRIGHT CORRESPONDENCE 1930-1932

In the mood to read love letters? The letters of Margaret Kraatz Wright, an eager PMSS teacher during the early 1930s, tell that kind of story. Romancing her future husband through correspondence, Margaret takes a journey that is humorous, touching, incomprehensible, and often maddening, but a journey that eventually won her a lifetime partner.

One of the larger collections of personal letters in the Pine Mountain staff holdings is digitized at MARGARET KRAATZ WRIGHT CORRESPONDENCE 1930-1932, providing images of the letters and accompanying summaries. If the reader follows the summaries or is patient with the idiosyncrasies of her handwriting in the images, the stories will charm and engage.


DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Earth Day and Mary Rogers

Pine Mountain Settlement School
DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH
Earth Day and Mary Rogers

March 21. It was the time of Equinox when night and day are of equal length and when the earth seems to hesitate in its spin as it slips into the longer communion with the sun. In 1983, March 21 had already been changed to April 22 as the universal “Earth Day.” Even earlier, Mary Rogers had set the idea of “Earth Day” firmly in her mind. On March 21, 1983, Mary Rogers slipped into her “sub specie aeternitatis” [Latin for “under the aspect of eternity”] Earthbound, we can know little of her eternity but we have often imagined that it is an exquisite balance of time and space which recognizes the temporal but is not bound to its limits. This is not a story of that enigma eternity but it is a glimpse into part of Mary Rogers’ journey in the temporal world and the wise environmental and spiritual messages she left with those she touched.

NASA/ GSFC/ NOAA/ USGS [Public domain]

The earth swirling with life and framed by the vast blackness of deep space is an iconic image with which we are now quite familiar. The enigma of suspension, the sheer beauty of our home, and the scale of that home in the vast universe is arresting. Suspended in eternity, we are charged to protect this vibrant home. Perhaps this is why the image of planet earth suspended in space has become the symbol of Earth Day. The image reminds us of our fragile existence in an unknown but expanding universe. How remarkable it is that we can now hold that enormous image in our mind’s eye and wonder at it blueness, its roundness, its surface teeming with life — our life. Mary was without doubt entranced by that image, but more often she was exploring small things; the universe of life on that shimmering globe. In her note, “Small Things with a Message,” she tells us

MILKWEED PODS

I love milkweed pods. The perfectly overlapped red brown seeds. The gloriously silky plumes, to feel which is one of the great tactile joys of life. Then comes the moment when it all boils up from the pod and flies off into the air —- pure beauty.

I was holding one once and could hardly bear it that I was alone and there was no one to share it with. But God saw it. It was his and he made it and he must have loved to see it — and he let me share that joy.


—- Mary Rogers. Seed Thoughts, 1990. “Small Things With a Message”
LITTLE BROWN JUG

The little brown jug is one of the least attractive flowers in the woods, and hardly anyone sees it as it is hidden beneath dead leaves. You have to clear them off to find it. When you find it its only appeal is its oddity. Its color is drab, the color of red and green mixed together — muddy. It is closed. Its three blunt lobes are the only opening on the small fleshy bottle of the flower. But take a knife and cut it open. It is lined with a rich dark red velvet like an expensive jewel box, and set in the box is a jewel like a tiara with its whitish stamens and anthers. Beautiful! What is the point of this beauty? Few people ever see it. Even the pollinating insects grope around in the dark. What a waste! There are millions of beauties even in this world which are never seen by man, but their creator knows them and has joy in them.


—- Mary Rogers. Seed Thoughts, 1990. “Small Things With a Message”
Fungus. [Photo: H.Wykle]
EARTH DAY BEGINNINGS

The first Earth Day according to many records was conceived by John McConnell, Jr. a peace activist and a Pentecostal from Southern California. McConnell, Jr., born on March 21, 1915, in Davis City, IA. He was the son of a itinerate doctor and was raised in the deeply religious ethic of the family that held to the idea of service to others. McConnell, Jr.’s early job working for a corporation that produced plastics caused him to question his responsibility to the earth and was the beginning of a long journey that sought to call-out actions that endangered the planet and the many lives that shared it. He initiated the idea of “Earth Day.”

It was through the eloquent advocacy of McConnell, Jr. for an Earth Day that the idea found its way onto the 1970 agenda of the National UNESCO conference in San Francisco in 1970. Through McConnell and others, his initial proposal was given serious consideration and an Earth Day Proclamation by the city of San Francisco was made. The date chosen for the celebration of this first “Earth Day” and organized by McConnell, was March 21, 1970. The day was also McConnell’s birthday. The event captured the imagination of many and large celebrations were held in San Diego and in New York, as well. McConnell had opened the milkweed’s pod and the silky plumes were loosed to the winds and the seeds began to grow.

Mary Rogers was, no doubt, encouraged by the work of McConnell, but she had a long head-start on the idea of Earth Day. To her mind, her every day had been an “Earth Day” and the seeds of her journey had been planted early in her life. When she helped to organize the first formal educational offerings at Pine Mountain Settlement School in 1972, it was just ten years after the publication of Rachel Carson‘s groundbreaking Silent Spring (1962), a book that was of profound interest to Mary. Carson’s work was in many ways the beginning of the environmental education movement.

Following McConnell’s March 21, launch came an official proclamation from Washington that echoed the sentiments of McConnell but that put a national urgency to McConnell’s idea and that shifted the celebratory date from March 21 to April 22. This date shift was initiated by Senator Gaylord Nelson, an environmentalist from Wisconsin who believed that the new date would allow schools to map their instruction more closely with school calendars throughout the country. The new date would also allow time to work through the national bureaucracy which would fix the event in the national calendar. Democratic Senator, Gaylord Nelson, with the assistance of Pete McCloskey, a Republican Congressman from California, jointly announced a national “Earth Day” for 1970, and for the successive years. Nelson and McCloskey then recruited Harvard scholar, Denis Hayes as the coordinator the new Earth Day and charged him with the process of creating an annual “national teach-in on the environment” throughout the country.

LARGEST SECULAR CELEBRATION ON EARTH

In 1970, the April 22 designation of a national Earth Day resulted in massive national demonstrations for the environment and by the end of the year, it had spawned a bi-partisan creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and the Endangered Species Acts. The interest and cooperation did not stop at the national level. Denis Hayes built on the national Earth Day planning and went on to found the even larger “Earth Day Network” which was expanded to over 180 nations and garnered the endorsement of the General Assembly of the United Nations. The International Mother Earth Day still remains the earth’s largest secular celebration.

Under President Jimmy Carter, Denis Hayes would later become the head of the Solar Energy Research Institute (1977) (now, National Renewable Energy Laboratory) By 2016 the Federal appropriations for renewable energy resources reflected the national attention to the environment with increased appropriations in solar energy, wind energy, biomass, and biorefinery systems, hydrogen technology, geothermal technology, and water power. Today, those initiative continue to struggle forward. We still continue to celebrate but our memories don’t always find partners in our actions.

SEED THOUGHTS

Mary’s reflections in Seed Thoughts

Each one of us comes into the world beautifully crafted to give light — maybe as candles or lamps, with wick and fuel, maybe as electric bulbs with the outer container to hold the filament or gas, and we are trying to improve on these by making them make [a] more effective use of the power.

The power: all the candles, lamps and light bulbs in the world are so much clutter unless they are ignited, and if they are damaged through improper use the only thing to do with them is to dump them in the trash. …

— Mary Rogers. Seed Thoughts. “Ye Are the Light of the World”

While the annual efforts of Pine Mountain in building their Environmental Education Program (EE) were modest, they were timely, and over the 47 years from 1972 forward, Pine Mountain has touched the lives of some 3000 students and teachers annually. The history of environmental education at Pine Mountain Settlement reveals an ever-evolving program and commitment. But, the mission is persistent. The reach of the program is extraordinary. The lives of students, teachers and other adults have been close to 141,000 over the years of the Environmental Education Program (EE). The longevity of the program speaks to its need and the outcomes speak to our future on this small blue globe, called earth.

Stream ecology class. Environmental education class – St. Francis School at PMSS

Mary was never the center of the programming for Pine Mountain’s environmental education, as many skilled EE educators came and went, particularly Afton Garrison, Ben, and Pat Begley and others. But no one will contest Mary’s central role in the formation of the program at Pine Mountain. Her work and that of those at the School provided the first model of environmental education in the State of Kentucky. Her self-taught inspiration and knowledge were recognized in 1988 by the Kentucky Association of Environmental Education which presented Mary and Afton Garrison their coveted award for excellence in the environmental education field. In 2015, Dr. Melinda Wilder, who sits on the Pine Mountain Board of Trustees was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kentucky Association of Environmental Education.

The wisdom of Mary may also be found in the creation of the Green Book, the early manual of instruction for the Environmental Education Program at Pine Mountain. It continues to be the underlying structural tool for the ongoing Pine Mountain program. Though major changes have occurred in the standard course of instruction mandated by Kentucky schools, the early work of Pine Mountain helped to guide the restructuring of the state curriculum. Going forward, Mary and her successors have continued their advocacy for the environment and have gained new voices. In her lifetime Mary was a legend, a resource that was incomparable. With her death in 1993, a profound presence and resource were lost.

At the end of her life, following a diagnosis of cancer, Mary looked back at her notes and her diary of written reflections. The brief thoughts reveal moments of illumination and doubt and deep spirituality. Only a few of these notes of inspiration are shared here. A large number of of her thoughts are, no doubt carried in the minds of those whose lives were touched by her instruction. The notes, titled, “Seed Thoughts” speak of the important revelations that can come at any point in life and that she compared to seeds that grow. As she gathered her many notes to create Seed Thoughts she advised that she selected the ideas that seemed to stick most firmly to her memories and which she “nourished”. She says modestly of those memories

Now, in 1990, I find my mind getting more boring to live with, less tuned in to joy, my memory losing its clarity, my powers of expression somehow blunted, but I want to record some of the incidents which have stood by me as truth… instances I have used in talks given in various places, …These incidents are seeds. Seeds are lovely little things, full of potential, but to realize that potential they must be planted, take root, receive nourishment and grow … to their full richness and glory.

— Mary Rogers, Seed Thoughts, 1990.
EE Staff – [left to right] Scott Matthies, Mary Rogers, Afton Garrison, Steve ?, Cami Hamilton, David Siegenthaler (Director). c. 1980 & 1981. [X_100_workers_2604_mod.jpg]

For those who knew Mary, it would be difficult to describe anything that she said as “boring.” She shared her enormous wealth of environmental information with such sincerity and convictions that even the most hardened skeptics were often swayed and the rapt attention given her reflections on nature could be found across all age ranges. She left hundreds, if not thousands as friends of the earth. Her heartfelt will to bring her audience into her focused spiritual realm was not a hard-sell proselytizing, yet it left few untouched by the spirituality of nature’s offering. By sharing her wealth of knowledge with the many, many children and adults who passed through the Environmental Education (EE) program, —-what she envisioned and fostered at Pine Mountain Settlement School was also a lesson in labor, love, and sacrifice. The many years that Mary gave to the Environmental Education Program was unpaid service. Late in life, she struggled with the idea of service and what it means to share one’s gifts for free. Nature’s gifts are also free. The foundational ideas and inspiration flowed freely from both sources. Her life was also a lesson in values. The environment is not an unlimited free resource, but one that comes with comes with hidden costs. Educational programming and days, such as Earth Day remind us of our responsibility to be educated in the stewardship of this precious and fragile life on the great blue planet that freely gives us so very much.

I receive so much in food and housing and care, — but money? How wonderful it would be if like the monks we felt we could live without having to be reimbursed with money. I have a strong inner sense that so many of the evils of the world would be weeded out if people could live their lives for the service they can give for the love of God, and not for higher pay.

Has one the faith to say, “I don’t want a salary.” It seems so lacking in faith not to, and yet getting old may be very expensive if one becomes unable to work, and has to have constant care. One doesn’t want to foist the responsibility for the time spent in care and the money spent on care onto anyone else, yet if one can’t live one’s testimony it is not a testimony, and if one doesn’t believe God is faithful one is faithless. How much should we save for our old age?

—Mary Rogers. Seed Thoughts, “Our Lady Poverty”. “Absolute Poverty”
SIMILITUDES

In February of 1992, Mary was given a book by Phillip Keller, As the Tree Grows (1966). It is as Mary described it is a “similitude.” She says of the Keller’s work, “He uses the symbols differently but it is a splendid “similitude”. How the living tree and the living person is sustained. Many points amplify what I have already written …” She follows that with her own similitude

In spite of the fact that a few plants still stick with the old way of extracting shreds of energy from the rocks, yet most living things, from the amoeba to the whale, from the algae to the giant redwood, from microorganism to man, all live, grow and function by virtue of the energy the sun supplies through the medium of the plants. We people are only able to grow, to think, to move by virtue of the sunlight collected and stored by the leaves of plants. We are built, we operate by virtue of the sun’s energy present in every part of our bodies. Our coal, our oil, the energies after which we scrabble among the fossil rocks, come from the same source. We wouldn’t need to agonize over our supplies of coal and oil, fossils holding on to their living energy if we could turn to the sun directly, for it is still shining today and every day. More energy reaches us from the sun than we could possibly use.

Often we hunt for spiritual energy from among the fossilized doctrines from the past, and ignore the vast available source of spiritual power with which we are, as it were, bombarded every second of every day, and bleat sadly because we are powerless.

—Mary Rogers. Seed Thoughts, Similitudes – The Sun
Forest at Pine Mountain Settlement School. [Photo: H.Wykle]

Her close friend, Milly Mahoney, teacher and educational leader at the settlement school, described her friend in a talk she gave in October 1998, to the local chapter of the D.A.R. , shortly after Mary’s passing. She quoted some of the many tributes to Mary by her co-workers and her students. For example, a former anonymous staff member of the EE team said, “I never could seem to find the detail, wealth and wonder in a rock, a seed or a flower that Mary could see and illuminate so beautifully with her reverent description and exclamations.”

Few who met Mary will ever forget the messages that Mary drew from the natural environment — this author, included. She drew from a deep well of joy and excitement that never ran dry and that was fed by her deep spirituality. For her, there was an inseparable relationship between ecology and spirituality and it was presented with a deeply held conviction. Her spiritual nature was no doubt spawned by her early life as the daughter of a Vicar of the Church of England in the small town of Greenham in Berkshire, England, but it was nurtured by the Eden she found in the Pine Mountain Valley, a location that continues to inspire awe and a sense of wonder and reverence in those who spend time there.

Mary Rogers working with Environmental Education program at Pine Mountain. X_100_workers_2669_mod.jpg

When Mary described the Environmental Education Program in one of the brochures sent out by the School, she quoted from Thomas Merton, “… to help visitors come to see and respect the visible creation which mirrors the glory and the perfection of the invisible God.” Many of those visitors took that advice to heart and one wrote


Observation, a sense of wonder, a measure of understanding, and hopefully love for the created world may spring from such experiences. A sense of wonder is easier to transmit than pure information and in the long-run is probably the most important thing learned.”

—Anon

Sharing excerpts from Mary Rogers “Seed Thoughts” on this Earth Day, 2019, we continue the efforts of Pine Mountain to engage a broader audience, fire the imagination, and to remind our friends that decisions regarding the environment have consequences for our fragile and endangered planet and for us. Another gentle reminder is found in an example taken from Mary’s Seed Thoughts and one that she dates to her early childhood. It demonstrates how early she came to her environmentalism and how deeply implanted her connection to the environment remained throughout her life.

THE WILD ROSE
A rose in front of Old Log at Pine Mt. Settlement [Photo: H.Wykle]

THE WILD ROSE

There were not many “pretty” walks round Little Common in Sussex (near Bexhill). We spent summer holidays there at our grandparents’ for many years. At home we were used to roving at will over our Common at Greenham in Berkshire, with its distant views of the Hampshire downs and its heather and gorse expanses with their marshy gullies and surrounding farms and woodlands. We found the Sussex countryside drab, but we were used to going for walks, and one summer when I was 7 or 8 we went for a walk to the “High Woods”, with our governess and our aunt.

I recall it as one of those grey days when nothing looks interesting. As we went along a lane between hedges I stepped to the ditch line to look at a wild rose, pale pink and delicate with its golden heart of stamens. As I looked into its face I found myself repeating lines of a poem I loved ….

Oh, no man knows through what wild centuries roves back the rose.”

Suddenly time disappeared and I seemed to be looking down the vistas of eternity.

That moment has stayed with me, and when I later read that Brother Lawrence‘s tree had been a deep experience for him, I recalled my rose. When I saw it the first time I consciously realized that all of time and space experienced as everyday time was unreal compared to this experience. A new dimension was to be with me and stay for the rest of my life. Yes, we were living in the temporal, but nothing can be limited by time. That consciousness has never left me.

I couldn’t put it into words at the time and didn’t want to. It was personal and interior but all-pervading.

— Mary Rogers. Seed Thoughts. “The Wild Rose”


ALL THAT’S PAST

Very old are the woods;
And the buds that break
Out of the brier’s boughs,
When March winds wake,
So old with their beauty are —
Oh, no man knows
Through what wild centuries
Roves back the rose.
Very old are the brooks;
And the rills that rise
Where snow sleeps cold beneath
The azure skies
Sing such a history
Of come and gone,
Their every drop is as wise
As Solomon.

Very old are we men;
Our dreams are tales
Told in dim Eden
By Eve’s nightingales;
We wake and whisper awhile,
But the day gone by,
Silence and sleep like fields of aramanth lie


Walter de la Mare. “All That’s Past” from The Listeners and Other Poems 1912
Road to Big Log with sheep shed to left and 'Lady' headed home.  [Photo: H. Wykle]
Road to Big Log with sheep shed to left and ‘Lady’ headed home. [Photo: H. Wykle]

H. Wykle
Easter Sunday
April 21, 2019

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Cows

Pine Mountain Settlement School
DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH
COWS

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Cows

 

Ayrshire herd on Grapevine Knoll, Pine Mountain Settlement. [nace_1_052a.jpg]

THE COW

In the collection of the archive at Pine Mountain there is a curious and fanciful scrapbook of everything “cow”. Collected by Elizabeth Hench a member of the Pine Mountain Board of Trustees, the body of material celebrates the ruminating bovine. It is rich in images and quotables, as well as cartoons and paintings that capture moments all too familiar to those who share or have shared their lives with cows. Hench calls her scrapbook, “Joy Made History” and it features the Ayrshires that made up the large herd that became the pride of Pine Mountain Settlement School’s farm. But, that’s a later story. However, one particular fragment in the scrapbook collection caught my eye. It was a chapter removed from a little book of rural reminiscences called Bucolic Beatitudes by the author “Rusticus”. Published in 1925 by the Atlantic Monthly Press of Boston, the little book’s chapter was pasted inside the scrapbook. It was titled “Blessed Be the Cow.”

RUSTICUS

This one bucolic fragment by Rusticus calls up memories of the many cows I have known. The chapter charmed my imagination. It describes a chance communion of the author with his milk cow, “Dolly” which changes his day of discontent to one of joy. Because I grew up with cows, it is not surprising to me that the mood change occurred when Rusticus made an unexpected bond with his “contented cow.” Rusticus, as the author calls himself had escaped a family gathering and small irritations on his farm by taking a walk. In the hot summer sun, he found a tree in his pasture and languished under its shade. Soon he was joined by the family milk cow, “Dolly” who also relished the shade of the tree. Both man and cow were soon prone on the grass not far from each other. Dolly had ambled to the tree, laid down and had begun to chew her cud while curiously eyeing her owner. Dolly chewed slowly on her cud and Rusticus ruminated on the relationship of man to animal as he stared back. The following is Rusticus’ short description of their subtle communion

There being nothing else to look at, I looked at Dolly. She was chewing her cud. The slow rhythmic precision of her technique fascinated me. I particularly admired the sideways movement of the lower jaw. She stopped; a gentle genuflection of the neck was noticeable; and she resumed. I had never had a chance to observe a cow before and I made the most of it. I felt that I was seeing for the first time the noble dignity of her head, her broad fine brow, and above all the eyes, serene and beautiful.

Rusticus. Bucolic Beatitudes, Boston: the Atlantic Monthly Press, 1925, pp 58-9

Rusticus continues his observations until the cow stirred, got to her feet and started the path to the barn. It was milk time and a cow feels milk-time calling her. Man and cow ambled slowly to the barn where Dolly is the be milked by a farm hand whom Rusticus calls, “The Incomparable One”. The process of milking that Rusticus so carefully describes in his little book is also documented in this photograph taken at Pine Mountain in the early years of the School before the Ayrshire herd was begun. Though, I doubt that “The Incomparable One” would have ever shown up barefoot. ‘

Milking the cow in the barnyard at Pine Mountain Settlement School, c. 1918. mccullough_IV_135b

Dolly now in place … With hands and arms glistening from recent soapy ablutions, he [The Incomparable One] takes the pail and holds it to the sun. He examines every inch of it critically and with deliberate care … His examination complete, we go where Dolly waits. He takes his place on gently tilted stool; we stand to one side. He pulls his rolled-back sleeves an inch higher, his great firm hands are rubbed together and then the fingers flex in smooth preparatory exercises. He leans forward and gently touches each teat in turn. From each he pulls a tiny lactic stream and lets it fall upon the clean rye straw beneath his feet. This is not done because — as held by some — the first milk contains more impurities than the rest; it is a libation, a propitiatory offering to whatever god there be who presides over the destines of cattle and impecunious rural sentimentalists.

And now the upward glance. A little figure, each in daily turn, takes its place and Dolly’s swinging tail is gently held at rest. The pail is raised to its position between extended knees, and all is ready. I notice that the milker adheres to the proper school. I do not hold, myself, for a position with the forehead of the milker pressed against the bovine flank; rather I like to see the left knee gently touching the off hind leg. It is a satisfaction to see things done with a nice attention to detail.

An now we hear the first streams strike the bottom of the empty pail. The shrill staccato of their impact is the overture, soon muffled by the increasing flood. The cadence slows; we are in the full orchestral swing by now. The milker’s bowed head is slowly raised, and, as the white foam nears the top he looks aloft. He sways a bit on his tilted stool; his head moves gently back and forth like some inspired conductor carrying his musician through the difficult passages of a mighty symphony. And now the beat quickens, the little streams leap into the rising tide of foam with soft lisping sounds. A final volley; then a few soft notes, long-drawn, and it is done.

… ‘Half quart off to-night — the grass is getting dry,” he says.’


Rusticus. Bucolic Beatitudes. Boston:The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1925, p.64-66

The ritual described in this short passage from Bucolic Beatitudes, was repeated over and again on early small Appalachian farms of those lucky enough to own such a gentle bovine ruminator. But the chore of milking was most often accomplished by the woman of the household, not a man.

A humorous mountain ballad captures the load the Appalachian woman often endures in house and on farm. It also calls out the relationships that cows often make with the milker. Cows, like people come with attitude and some cows are not quite so cooperative or bucolic as Dolly. The following brief stanza from “The Old Man in the Wood,” that I sang as a child, describes what happens when the man of the household brags that he can “… do more work in a day, than his wife can do in three…”

THE OLD MAN IN THE WOOD

There was an old man who lived in the woods
As you can plainly see
Who said he could do more work in a day
Than his wife could do in three

“If that be true,” the old woman said,
“Why this you must allow:
You must do my work for one day
While I go drive the plow.”

“Now you must milk the tiny cow
For fear she shall go dry
And you must feed the three little pigs
That are within the stye
And you must watch the speckled hen
For fear she’ll go astray
And you must wind the reel of yarn
That I spun yesterday.

The woman she took the staff in her hand
And went to drive the plow
The old man took the pail in his hand
And went to milk the cow.
Tiny hitched, and Tiny switched
And Tiny cocked her nose
Tiny gave the old man such a kick
That the blood ran down to his toes….etc

After failing to complete all the other tasks he said of his wife

Yes, he swore by all the leaves on the trees
And all the stars in heaven
That his wife could do more work in one day
Than he could do in seven.


Jean Ritchie. The Swapping Song Book, Lexington: Univ. Press of KY, and collected by Pine Mountain Settlement School in the PMSS Song Ballads and Other Songs printed and published by Pine Mountain Settlement School.

Many of the nine Ritchie Family children attended Pine Mountain Settlement School and also nearby Hindman Settlement. Jean attended public school and the University of Kentucky later becoming a well known folk singer. See PMSS records for May Ritchie, Truman Ritchie, Patty Ritchie, Una Ritchie, Kitty Ritchie.

A happy ‘Dolly” cow being milked and fed. Where is the bucket? mccullough_III_096b

Cow tales abound in the Pine Mountain literature. And cow tails figure in many of the tales. When Tiny “twitched and Tiny switched” that was in reference to the switching tail used to dispense the many flies that often troubled the summer milk cow as well as troubling the milker. When Rusticus described the “little figure” coming to help the “Incomparable one,” he was, no doubt referring to some child assigned to this task. The photograph below, demonstrates the firm grasp of the tail which keeps it under control for the milker to progress.

Child tending cow to keep tail from switching on the woman milking. c. 1930s [nace_II_album_017.jpg]

FIRST, YOU HAVE TO FIND THE COW

Not only is milking a challenge, first, one has to find the cow. Before range laws were in place, cows roamed freely in Appalachia and in other places in the Country. The cows were generally fitted with cow bells to more easily locate them. The bells were not just auditory ornaments, they were a GPS system that children could use to correlate cow and sound. Before the cow could be milked it had to be found and brought in for milking and be secured for the night. The following story by a Pine Mountain School student (unnamed) describes the task of finding the cow — a chore often assigned —- like tail holding — to children.

AS I LOOK BACK

Oh, how I dreaded to see the time come just at sun set to hunt the cows, call up the dog and start up the hollow! How far it took, for the old belled cow was way up in the weeds and briars as far as she could get. I can still pant from climbing that steep hill knowing I would have to hunt for two hours maybe before I found them all. When I started from the house to get them, old Pide’s bell could be heard very distinctly but when she heard me coming not a tap of the bell would she make. Finally the dogs would find them all and down the hillside they would come with clouds of dust behind them, for they feared the sharp incisors that would clinch their legs. There was a reason why he never bit their tails; they were always too high in the air. Oh! how I dreaded to get ton the gate with those cows for there were those pigs making their way like a terrific storm and we knew if they got out it would be another trip to the pasture field.

But sometimes we climbed up the cow pasture on our way to the Pine Knobb cliffs. There in the valley the house stands where the creek forks like a turkey’s foot. My mother and father are still living in it. Although on the cliffs we were a mile away, all that stirred around our house could be seen. Far, far away in other directions we looked into yet other valleys. At our feet were lovely tree tops where birds hopped from limb ton limb and from one tree to another. When the sun hid behind the hills we started homeward. When we reached the big rock we would have to stop to satisfy our hunger from the store of walnuts we had gathered there. I’m sure our cracking stones are still in place. It was those times of fun we had cracking walnuts that made the thought of getting the cows, that never came by themselves, a little softer in my mind.

Anonymous. The Pine Cone 1937 Pine Mountain Settlement School newsletter.

And, that brings us back to Elizabeth C. Hench and her Joy Stock Company Limited Letters 1927-33. The following is the last letter in her series of letters to those who so loyally supported the Ayrshire herd at Pine Mountain for many years. It is a fitting letter as it returns to the emotional contributions of the cow to the world. Written near the end of the Great Depression, the letter is edgy with humor and anxiety.

The grand Ayrshire herd at Pine Mountain Settlement would last only a few years after the closure of the boarding school. When the expense and the labor to support the program and the new regulations regarding milk production came into play, the dairy herd was no longer viable. When the last of the herd was sold the cow bells had been silent for many years and the gentle communions with our ruminating neighbors were infrequent. Cows in Appalachia have now been replaced by the deer and by the elk that roam freely. But, none of those will summer nap with you under the same tree or will share their milk, or mellow your mood.

LETTER TO THE MEMBERS OF THE JOY STOCK COMPANY LIMITED 1933

Dear Stock-Holder:
Ordinarily I am as restless as a short-tailed bull in fly-time until I get the autumn cow letter off. But during the summer just past, to those of us in this section of the world, autumn, with its many days or rain, brought no terrors. As we oozed and mopped, we looked in vain to cows for relief. For, do you know, cows are weatherwise? Here are some of the signs:

1 — If a bull goes first to pasture, it will rain.
2 — If cattle lie down at once when they reach pasture, they want a dry bed before rain starts.
3 — If a cow licks a brick wall, rain will fall.
4 — If a cow lies down on her right side, rain will come soon.

But cows went placidly and contentedly on their way. What matter to them if springs went dry and creeks fell? The cow with the iron tail would supply them!

Contentment is so often spoken of as a characteristic of cows, that a quatrain I found does not ring true:

“The Worry Cow would have lived till now
If she had only saved her breath,
But she feared the hay wouldn’t last all day,
So she choked herself to death.”

Nevertheless, if the Joy Stock Company, Limited, and REJOICE, our cow, don’t have checks, we’ll be ready to sing The Tune The Old Cow Died On —

“There was an old man, and he had an old cow,
And he had no fodder to give her,
So he took up his fiddle and played her this tune:
‘Consider, good cow, consider,
This isn’t the time for grass to grow,
Consider, good cow, consider.'”

Those of us who have ridden along the main highways have been enjoined by huge posters to roll our own, but how can REJOICE roll her cud without food?

If there be (notice the conditional tense) any of us whose incomes have not been slashed, and if there are any of us who can squeeze out a little money, let us send our checks soon.

From one who tries to keep the Milky Way
always visible at Pine Mountain,

[Signed] Elizabeth Hench

P.S. Did you realize that Amelia Earhart Putnam’s landing in Ireland was witnessed only by a herd of frightened cows?

https://pinemountainsettlement.net/?page_id=17147

SEE ALSO:

ELIZABETH C. HENCH Joy Stock Company Limited Lettera 1927-33

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH The Dairy

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Farm and Dairy Early Years

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Farm and Dairy II Morris Years

ALICE COBB STORIES Howard Burdine Tail of Old Red