Transcribed by Rae Wayne
June 1, 1950
* CAL’S COLUMN *
We closed our last article with a report of Bob Taylor’s tale about the baptizing of the young man who did not wish to be baptized. Here we go again with some other anecdotes of church work or services of one kind or another. In the years gone by, cooking and housekeeping were far worse than they are today. The editor was reared by a mother who was a most excellent cook, he married a good cook as a young man. When he began his work as a minister, he soon found that many women were poor cooks and poor housekeepers. At the first he found it nearly impossible to eat at some places; and, on many occasions, his appetite failed him because of the fifth and generally poor cooking.
Some communities were far worse than others in that respect, the daughters seemingly have “inherited” their dirty, filthy and slovenly housekeeping and cooking from their mothers. In other words, it was hard for a poor cook to train her daughters to be better cooks than was the mother. In this matter it may be said that our schools in the past 25 years have helped in many, many ways to relieve the sorry housekeeping and poor cooking that once prevailed in some communities and in many homes. We give credit for this improvement to the use of electricity, to the training of our girls in home economics and to the many programs that have been presented in an effort to attain greater cleanliness in our manner of life.
But to go back a few years and relate some of the episodes of the past for the preacher whose early training had not prepared him for eating anywhere and everywhere, shall be our next job. Reader, how would you have gotten along if you had gone home with some brother, who before bedtime had removed his dirty shoes and socks as dirty as the shoes, had then run his fingers through the opening between his toes and “sopped out” the dirt and filth that commonly accumulate between toes, who did not wash his hands before retiring, who rose the next morning, built a fire and then sliced the country bacon for breakfast, all without and before washing his hands? This did not happen to the writer, but we know the party that had this kind of an experience as a visitor in a home. It used to be common to charge preachers with going to only a few places in the community. Part of this was justified on the grounds of the dirty, filthy homes, for which there is no justification. We recall two sisters in the long gone years, both of whom have gone “the way of all the earth.” One of these was as nice a housekeeper and cook as we ever knew. The other was exactly the opposite, although she was a good woman, had a nice family and had plenty of nearly everything needed in a country home. She also was blest with a large, well-built dwelling house. The nice sister once remarked to the writer: “There are too much soap and water in this world for some people to be as filthy as they are.” We dared not ask her to whom she was referring, but out mind went at once to the sister. Now any reader can see why it was a pleasure to visit one of these homes and a burden and a dread to go to the other. We have no desire to be as much of a stickler for cleanliness as perhaps some people, but we would like to have things at least fairly clean.
Some of these episodes may have been mentioned by the writer in previous articles, but it will not hurt to use them again. We remember that some time ago we informed our readers about the “butter scrape” in West Tennessee. A number of Middle Tennessee Baptist preachers, including the writer, had gone to the west part of the state to attend to some religious matters. That night we went home with Brother __________, a well-to-do farmer who had a house nearly as big as a barn and who had plenty of the good things of life, except he had no housekeeper. Mrs. __________ was a good woman as far as we ever knew, but evidently she had not learned much of the “principles of housekeeping and cooking.” Dinner had been “on the ground” that day at church and a lot of it had not been eaten. So this family had brought home quite a lot of food left over from the public dinner. In addition, some hot biscuits and hot hash had been prepared for the evening meal. We sat down by the side of our good friend, Elder C. B. Massey, and it is needless to say that he was not bashful and that the writer had an extremely bad case of this “malady.” Our appetite for butter then was very poor, except at home where we were quite fond of butter. We would not eat butter anywhere unless we thought everything was clean and “above board,” refraining in other places. At this time just mentioned, we had taken out a hot biscuit and a piece of cold chicken and were “Mincing along” on these two items, when we noticed a bowl of butter, nearly a “hatful,” sitting down at the right of our friend and neighbor, Massey. Moreover, the flies there were the very worst we ever saw them anywhere in life, and we have seen them “by the millions.” We called Massey our “friend and brother,” but our friendship suffered a considerable setback when he had the audacity to pick up that “hatful” of butter, all covered with flies—it was white butter or would have been without the flies—and passed it to us through that swarm of September flies, fat and heavy and nearly at the end of their row, and stuck it right under our handsome (?) Roman nose and said loud enough to be heard across a public square, “Brother Gregory, have some butter.” He knew our weakness for butter eating at a dirty place and took advantage of our unfortunate situation to have a “barrel of fun.” We turned sick and had to leave the table, arising from the table as we asked to be excused. We made our way outside and to fresh air and “soon revived.” Shortly afterward Massey appeared and we undertook to express our complete disapproval of the way he had treated us. All we got back was a lot of big laughs and we went to bed that night virtually “supperless.” But we spent the night in another home as clean and nice as the first had been dirty and filthy. This was our last trip to the home of Brother __________, and we wonder if the readers will condemn us for not going back.
We recall another story told on the writer. This is not true, but it is a fine illustration of how bad flies may be and of the filth that once was common in may homes. This story was to the effect that Cal had gone to a home for his Sunday dinner one hot summer day, that he had eaten of the vegetables and meats, that he then asked the lady of the house to pass him the blackberry pie. The story goes on to say that she waved her hand over the “blackberry pie,” saying “Shoo,” to a swarm of flies as she answered, “Brother Gregory, this is not blackberry pie, but egg custard.”
We believe we recently related the story of the bad little boy whose mother was looking for the preacher for dinner, as we of the country still call the mid-day meal. She took pains to impress on her son, who was about ten years of age, the awful sin of being ugly and bad while the minister was present. She also laid up a number of threats of dire things to follow if he did not “behave himself.” After the preacher had offered thanks and was taking out a plateful of food, the boy reached over some distance across the table and lifting something from a dish of food, called out very loudly, “Mammy, look here what a hair!” The poor, mortified mother then said, “Shut your mouth. That ain’t a hair, it’s a corn silk.” The boy was not to be sidetracked easily but came right back with the information, “I know it ain’t. It’s got a nit on it.” Our older readers will know that a nit was the egg laid by a head louse and which was fastened to a hair and never to a corn silk. We did not stay to learn the “fate of the boy,” nor did we learn the preacher’s reactions. But out guess was that the next time he went somewhere else for dinner.
The writer has perhaps already related his “experience” along part of this line. In other years we were eating breakfast in a home in Bowling Green. It was in November and fresh meat and sausage were rare except in their season, the cool or cold weather of late fall or winter. So that morning Sister __________ had fresh sausage for breakfast. The writer always did like sausage and that morning he licked his lips in anticipation of what was in store for him. No fork or spoon being in the sausage dish, we took our “trusty” fork and “speared” one of the fattest and juiciest of the sausages in the dish and started with it to our plate. But we had a terrible setback as we saw two more sausages arise and “take after the one we had ‘speared’.” The “speared” sausage landed in our plate, the other two in something of a “no-man’s land,” about half-way between the dish and Gregory’s plate. We looked over the “scene,” and discovered that we had “speared” the middle sausage in a string of three, all held together by a hair as “long as your arm.” An accident as bad as this cannot happen to those women who have bobbed hair, at least not on “so vast a scale.”
We sat and looked over the dismal prospects and hardly knew what to do. Being too bashful to leave things as they were, we finally “unhitched” the sausage we had “speared” and at last crammed it down. But the going down was bad and three or four times, the sausage rebelled or something rebelled and that sausage made three or four threats to “return to the land of the living.” But finally we “mastered” the “hairy sausage” and managed somehow to live through the ordeal. But that was in some respects our worst “eating ordeal.” We were young then and today we are looking down toward life’s sunset and the old “stimmick” is hardly as choicy as it used to be, although we do not want any hairs in our grub even at this late day.*
Another line appeared at end of this article which does not fit the context:
day we are looking down toward