Entertainment and Social Life

Our home was on a road that ran parallel with the main highway artery (Highway 75) which was an unpaved gravel road.  Roads leading toward Highway 75 were more traveled.  We were more than a quarter mile from the mail route.  Throughout my school years we walked from almost a mile to at least a quarter mile to catch the school bus.  Since we were a quarter mile from our nearest neighbors, it was not at all uncommon in summer for our family to go a week and not see any person other than member of family.  Since most traffic was toward the highway, some weeks no one would even pass our house.  Due to our isolation and the demands of heavy farm labor, very little thought was given to social activities.  It was enough reward to make it to Sunday for a day off.  Since we were three miles from Friday's Crossing, I have always joked that after you walked the three miles there and knew you had to walk the three miles home, you didn't have enough energy to get into trouble.  At Friday's Crossing there was only one store, which closed at dark.

Probably the most enjoyed and most social event was the 'chicken stew.'  Some family would announce 'Saturday we will have a chicken stew.;  This required only the killing of a chicken, usually a hen, and buying a box of soda crackers, which cost ten cents.  Five-cent boxes were also available.  Depending on the number of families invited, the group would gather, eat chicken stew, tell jokes, and discuss the crops while the children played hide and seek and other games.

There were two musical families in the area.  the one most often enjoyed was the George Smith family.  He could play the fiddle, and each of his children could play the guitar or mandolin.  They would play on occasion at a home or in the community, and a crowd would gather.  Although music was being played, there was no dancing since it was considered sinful and frowned on by the church.

On rare occasions, some family would have a party for the young people.  Some of them were called candy drawings where numbers were drawn for pieces of candy, mainly peppermint.  The young folks would play post office, where the boy would invite his favorite girl to go for a walk.  Some other games might be 'drop the handkerchief,' musical chairs, or 'pin the tail on the donkey.'  In the New Home Community there was always a baseball team.  The team was quite good, with the same players year after year.  the games were held, always on Saturday, in Freeman Painter's pasture.  This meant that during the season, there was a game every other week.  No Saturday games were played for religious.  I t was a thrill to a farm boy to hear 'At Saturday noon we'll take off and go to the ball game.'  This required about a three-mile walk, but that was no problem.  Usually the games were well attended by men and boys, but very few ladies went.  There were no bleachers or seats, and it was considered unladylike to attend.  The catcher on the team, Velt Agnew, could jump and turn a flip in the air, landing on his feet.  This was the first time I ever saw this feat.

Aside from entertainment, one young man was a budding capitalist.  He attended the games with candy in a fruit jar.  He would buy chocolate candy bars and break them into pieces.  He would sell the pieces at games out of the fruit jar.  He did this for some time.  Using his profits, he built and owned a store in Oneonta, which he ran until he retired.  It was a standard joke among people doing business at the store that you needed to count your change.  When it was wrong, and someone requested a correction, his reply was “Some count, and some don't.”

There was no creek or river suitable for swimming within several miles from our house.  It was almost a miracle that any of us learned to swim.  It was a huge treat to visit my grandparents (Smith) since, weather permitting, we always 'went in a washing.'

In the forties, as people in the area became more prosperous, many bought pickup trucks.  This led to more prosperity because they could better market their produce.  As transportation and a little excess cash became available, the Strand Theatre in Oneonta became reachable for Saturday afternoon westerns.  They offered a full Western and second, continued show children for a dime.  You could go to the movie, get a bag of popcorn and a drink, and get a nickel change from a quarter.  For our family, we enjoyed this luxury maybe three or four times.  As an added treat the Strand was the first air conditioned building in the area.

Much time was spent playing cards, with the primary card game being Rook, named after the raven-like rook bird.  Mainly it was played without the 'Ones,' so that the maximum you could make was one hundred twenty.  The primary card was the Rooker, with the 'Fourteens' as the significant cards.  Many partners had developed subtle, often indiscernible, winks and signs to signal possession of the key cards.  i never heard of any on playing bridge.  Mainstream card games were unusual.

Checkers were also often enjoyed and, at some stores, you could see many people playing.  A visitor could challenge to play the winner.  With no TV or Radio, the importance of games was greatly magnified.  We spent many hours playing Fox and Geese and making things with string.  A skillful person with a piece of string could build a Jacob's Ladder or a crow's foot.

I never heard of a church wedding until I was an adult.  When a couple decided to get married, they obtained a marriage license and visited a preacher or justice of the peace.  Often the only people present were the preacher and the couple, with the preacher's wife as the witness.  My parents were married by a justice of the peace.  Both my sisters were married in a home of a preacher.  There was no surplus money to be wasted on a church wedding.  Evidently the home weddings were successful, a divorce was rare.  In my entire childhood, I did not even know of a divorced person.  A large part of lasting marriages was economic.  The wife needed the husband to do the hard work required for farming, and the husband needed the wife for cooking, washing, milking, and caring for the children.  They were a partnership.  Most men did no cooking or housework at all.

In the forties, state law was changed to require blood tests before marriage.  At the time, it was fashionable to drive to Georgia to marry, where no waiting was required.  My brother Arvel married in this way.

Dominoes was also a game that was played often by many families.

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