True Tales of Life In the Old Days - Part 6, Recollections of Gladys True, A Vintage Vignette

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True Tales of Life In the Old Days - Part 6
Recollections of Gladys True

A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
October 4, 2009

Gladys McFarlen True in her book “My Life from Wagons to Rockets” described her years in elementary school at Trenton, Alabama. Excerpts from that book are given below in Gladys’ own words.

“We did not have lunchrooms. If we did not go home for lunch, we ate what we brought from home. I was amused recently by the ads for “breakfast in your hand” at McDonald’s and Hardee’s, when they first started serving biscuit and sausage or biscuit and gravy. When I came along, “in your hand” was not by preference, but because that was all we had. The lunch was packed in either a small basket or a lunch bucket. Mine always was in a lunch basket because I did not have a big family. If the kids were from a big family, lunch was packed in a lunch bucket.”

“I have been told by someone from another family that her mother packed the lunch, and she set it at the bottom of the steps. The child who was the last one to leave had to carry the lunch bucket. Nobody wanted to carry that lunch bucket. The children who rode horseback, walked long distances to school, or rode in a wagon, always brought their lunch. Those of us who lived close walked home for lunch, or if it was a rainy day we took our lunch.”

“Occasionally our daddies would bring us a hot lunch. Sometimes it would be a baked potato or a biscuit with something like a teacake. A teacake is like a sugar cookie, only teacakes were as big as a hand with the fingers out. They were sprinkled with sugar, sometimes white, sometimes brown, and sometimes they had hickory nuts chopped on them. I do not ever remember seeing a pecan nut. Angelese had an English walnut tree in her yard. If you got raisins and nuts on your teacakes, you were doing good!”

“Sometimes we had muffincakes. Muffincakes were baked in a ruffled, cast-iron muffin pan. The size of the pan depended on the size of your family, six or twelve. My mother’s pan had twelve. I do not remember those being iced because not many cakes were iced in those days. We did not have powdered sugar nor electric beaters in those days. We had a flat wire whisk to beat food.”

“We got our water out in the hall. We did not have anything to drink at school except water. Most of us had a folding drinking cup with a lid on it. When we finished drinking, we folded our cup back up and put it in our school satchel. Now these are called school bags or backpacks. Those school satchels were simply a piece of folded cloth with an opening of about twelve to fifteen inches. They were stitched down around the corner, and we put our books in one end. We just put our tablet on one side and the book on the other because we did not have many books.”

“There was a big dictionary for each class. There were no small dictionaries. I still have my third grade primer today. The story “Aladdin” is in there, and many other stories that children still read about today.”

“My little town was just one of many (similar) little towns. In those days many, many children did not get to go to school past the eighth grade, but they had a good basic education because they did not have so many books to study. We hear about the three-R’s: reading, writing and arithmetic. That was the basics back then. We also had language and science. Men are going to the moon today, but all the basic things today have not changed from the way we were taught. We read about Ben Franklin, kept up with the Presidents, and so on. Our education was good enough to help us be successful in life.”

And Gladys was indeed successful in life, not only raising a family, but also helping her husband in their grocery store and serving in many capacities in her church and her community.

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