Barefoot Memories of a Hillbilly

Back Then

It takes a few days to recuperate from the festivities and indulgence of Christmas. Of course the routine chores are being done, after all, Bossy continues to need care, and people still need to eat and dishes need to be done. However, with the remaining bit of baccer hanging in the barn waiting for a humid day to come into "case," and all the schools being on break, it's also a good time for enjoying our Christmas gifts, playing games, reading, and just talking. If asked Pap quite a bit about the Christmases of his youth, and though the Christmases of back then sounded lean, like us, there was fun for the finding.

Pap says something most all kids had access to back in the teens and 20s was firecrackers, and cap guns, and something he says was called crackers or poppers; these were small cylindrical rolls, twisted on the ends, that when jerked from each end made a popping sound and showered the person with confetti and a small prize. Young boys of his age often found sling shots or cap pistols under the Christmas tree, and spent several days having shoot-outs and being deputized to help the sheriff apprehend the bad guys. The caps, which consisted of long strips of red heavy paper with dotted lines of gun powder on it, and rolled up to feed thru the action of the toy gun to make popping sounds, something that thrilled the youngsters and caused their mom's eyebrows to raise.

I asked Pap if there was any particular gift he received that he could recall. He says back in those days, it was pretty usual for boys 12 or 13 years old to get a 22 rifle to begin rabbit hunting to help put a little something extra on the table. Pap reckoned when he was 12 years old, back in 1926, just a few months before turning 13, he too got his 22, and sure enough a few days later there came a light dusting of snow, just enough to track a rabbit. He says he wasn't successful on his first hunt, getting easily distracted by other things and losing interest. He just never seem to have much interest in hunting; though he did enjoy being out in the woods and fields. Some years later Mom got him a BB gun and he did love having "shooting matches" with any of his youngens passing thru. He set up a plastic milk jug filled with water with a target drawn on its side. As the BB hit the jug, the water slowed its passing thru enough that the pellet was halted and sank into the bottom of the container to be reused and away from the mouths of song birds.

Any way, back to "back then," Pap says like most kids, his favorite part of the Christmas actions was the candy, as surely each young child found an apple or orange in their stocking, hopefully a shiny penny, a few "crackers," some firecrackers and their very own peppermint stick or horehound candy they didn't have to share with anyone. Sitting out would be bowls with nuts, fruit, and maybe a stack cake. And, after everyone enjoyed all the day they could, curling up near the fireplace to roast a few chestnuts or pop some corn...and then, a nice nap.

I wear shoes now, but sometimes I have barefoot memories.

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