Tales and Legends from Pisgah

Written by Mrs. Mable McElwee
September 13, 1990

Who said, “No woman living knows how to make lye soap”?

I assure you, I helped my mother-in-law make lye soap. We got everything ready to make it after “hog-killing” time.

The ol’ wooden barrel was in the backyard – you were careful to burn only oak wood, if possible. A big pan was placed “just so” under the barrel to catch the water. When time came to start pouring, it took lots of water drawn from a 30′ well, but when it started dripping, I assure you, you had pure lye. After the hog was in salt, cracklins dried out, and the lard taken up, we separated the “best” for good ol’ hot-water cracklin bread. We threw the rest back in the “Pot” and poured in the “homemade” lye. You ended up with a clean wash pot and big pan of lye soap.

This lye would “eat up” the cracklins as good as the Eagle Lye you got at the store, which cost 10 cents a can.

My mother-in-law was “Aunt Mag” Dendy to all of her neighbors and friends. My husband, Hansel, was her youngest son.

I lived in Pisgah over 50 years. Hansel passed away at 65 years. I was a widow for 12 years. A friend I knew when we were young people, who had lost his wife of younger days, came into my life. We married and now live at his home in Haynesville.

I will always love Pisgah folks, and have many friends in my new home. “Our” children have accepted each of us in a very special way.

My “Gazette” has been in our home each week here-we both look forward to its arrival.

Sure hope the Pisgah reporter keeps up her “reporting”. It will always be special to me.


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