Etta Pearl Crews
When I was a kid my Mom would take us to visit her parents on their farm. She would dress us in our Sunday clothes and she’d get all dressed up. I never understood why because we would look like a couple of piglets within an hour after we got there. Its only about forty miles from Monroe to Bernice but it was a big trip for us as kids. We would often stop about halfway there to get a bottle of water from a spring that someone had stuck a pipe in. Then we would always stop at a small Pentecostal church that faced the highway to visit the graveyard where my mom’s grandmother was buried. Finally we would get to the farm. Grandma Crews was usually sitting on the porch churning butter. Granddaddy Crews would be out taking care of the cows. Ole Brownie, their milk cow, would be lying right there in front of the house. She was so tamed that the kids would sit on her while she was lying down and if she decided to get up and graze around the kids got a ride. She acted like we weren’t even there.
I’ll never forget that old farm house. It was built a little ways up a hill. The floor was off the ground about four feet and was built in the old dog run style. Cooking area on one side and sleeping area on the other. The open area between was called the dog run and let a nice breeze flow through during the hot summers. It had a covered porch all along the front. Grandma would always make us take a turn churning butter sitting on that porch. There were several homemade chairs with cow hide for the seat. We often were given a cup of coffee with a saucer to drink it with. We would imitate Granddaddy spilling coffee into the saucer and blowing on it to cool it down then drinking the coffee from the saucer. They used lanterns for light and Grandma cooked on a wood burning stove. She could really cook on that thing. It was kept burning all the time.
Granddaddy Crews would be up a couple of hours before daylight to start his chores outside and grandma Crews would have been up before him to start making coffee and getting breakfast started. By the time granddaddy got the animals fed she would have breakfast ready and have started cooking the noon meal. Then she’d feed the chickens, wash clothes, churned butter and a thousand other things that needed doing and getting the supper meal done just to start all over again the next day.
Farming was hard in those days but during the depression they always had food. Not much money but they bartered and traded to get what extra’s they needed. Granddaddy said once a year he would load a wagon full of vegetables, hitch the horses up and make the trip to Monroe to sale them. It was a long trip but he made enough to make it worth his while.
When we visited grandma Crews would always cook fried chicken. That meant she had to pick out one or two catch them then she would swing each one around snap it out and pop its head right off. The chicken would hit the ground running until all the blood spurted out its neck and then fall over dead. A little plucking and gutting and she’d be ready to fry it up.
On one of our trips we were all deck out in our Sunday best. When we got to the farm granddaddy wanted to show my mom something so my brother and I were able to sneak off to the chicken coop. Looking in we saw all kinds of eggs on those nest. Next thing you know we were having a nice egg fight. Boy did we get a good whipping over that. Dragging us along by the ear, Mom made us go see granddaddy’s new bull. He was in a nice corral just standing there. Granddaddy walked up to him and petted him on the head. Mom decided to open the gate and walk over to the nice gentle bull. She had on her brand new long RED coat. When the bull saw her he started pawing the ground and charged right at her. She screamed and ran. Granddaddy grabbed one of the bull’s horns and distracted him but his blood was up and the next thing we knew the bull was trying to gore granddaddy. He grabbed both horns and the bull pushed him all the way across the corral. We were all hollering and jumping up and down, I guess the bull heard us because he just stopped and walked away from granddaddy like nothing had happened. That was the last time Mom ever wore that coat to the farm.
Cathy Buckley is a native of Union Parish and lifelong citizen of Shiloh. She served as Principal of Spearsville High School for many years until her retirement. Cathy is now the director of the Bernice Depot Museum and a active member of the Bernice Historical Society.