Saturday, September 24, 2011

Vera Taylor Oden's Memoir (SECTIONS V, VI and VII)

Hello, all! Hubby and I will be on our way to Sugar Creek in a few minutes, but I wanted to share a little more of Mrs. Vera's memoir beforehand.

This posting contains sections five, six and seven of twenty-one sections that describe life in Sugar Creek, Louisiana prior to 1902. If you haven't read the post about the significance of her memoir, click here.



Papa kept cheese, soda crackers and stick candy at the store, but at Christmas time he had barrels of apples, boxes of oranges and big buckets of "fancy candy" and nuts. One of the delights of my childhood was to go to the stare after supper just before Christmas and help unpack the dolls and toys and other Christmas goods. They came packed in big wooden boxes and were hauled from Arcadia in a wagon. I also loved to straighten up the shelves and help clean up the store. The post office was only a large sized cabinet with separate compartments labelled with letters of the alphabet; into which went the mail according to the name. Of course Papa also sold stamps and money orders. There was no parcel post then. On the same side of the store were tobacco, a few simple drugs and groceries. On the other side were some piece goods, some laces, ribbon, thread, face powder and Hoyt's cologne, oil cloth, shoes, hardware, etc. Coal oil for lamps was in a large metal barrel and had to be pumped out. Each customer brought his own oil can. There was a wood stove (heater) in the back of the store, around which customers would gather to talk in winter. In summer they sat on loafers benches on the porch of the store. There was a well there, also hitching racks for horses. A cousin of Papa's, cousin Jeff Taylor stayed with us for a while and helped at the store. He was a bachelor and rather smart, used to teach school. He helped teach us children before we had a school there.


I can't remember when I learned to read but Mamma and Papa began to teach us at an early age. Mamma used to let Aunt Belle's children, Annie Belle, who was my age, Irvin and Glenn come to our house and have school with us. In exchange Aunt Belle would do sewing for Momma. The nearest school was too far away for us so Papa hired cousin Tula Patton (Later Mrs. Mack Caruthers) to stay with us and teach us and our cousins. Later they cleaned out a cabin with a big stone fireplace and made a school room out of it. They then took in children from two or three other families. Finally they built us a new one room school building on the side of a hill, and I think we had about thirty pupils.

When I was about eight Papa bought us a piano, and Berta, Anniebel and I were ready to start music lessons. They employed Miss. Carrie Belle Baker of Athens to teach us. She was about sixteen. She stayed with us about a month, got homesick and quit. Our next teacher was Annibel's cousin, Miss. Zilpah Knowles of Ruston. She didn't stay long, either. Then we got another teacher Cousin Gay McCasland of Homer, still another, Miss. Bertha Bailey of Homer. None of them stayed very long, not enough social life, I guess. With the exception of Miss. Zilpah, they all stayed with us.


There was no church within several miles, so we didn't have the advantage of a Sunday School. Efforts were made to have an interdenominational Sunday School at our little school house, but it didn't last but two or three Sundays. Mama had her membership at Lisbon Methodist Church, about ten miles away, but because of the distance, rainy weather and bad roads, we didn't get to go very often. Our preparation for church started the day before, because we had to leave home very early to get to church in time. We had our baths, hair washed and rolled up for curls, clothes laid out, etc. Next morning we would get dressed except for our dresses and hair and put on an apron. When we reached a certain creek Papa would let the horses drink while Mamma put our dresses on us, tied our sashes and took down our curls. Then she was ready to parade us down the aisle before her friends and kinfolks. Berta and I were usually dressed alike except for our washes and hair ribbons, which were either pink or blue. Our hats were alike, usually leghorn, trimmed with pink or blue for-get-me-nots.


These three sections of Mrs. Vera's memoir really wowed me. In fact, I've become obsessed with Hoyt's Perfume! I've been stalking old perfume bottles on ebay, hoping to find a bargain on a scent from the past. Here is a Hoyt's Perfume "trading card" from 1892, the approximate time period that Mrs. Vera was writing about in this section of her memoir. I couldn't resist attaching these photos to this post. Enjoy!

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