Thursday, September 02, 2010

From slop to Sunday singings

In an entry the other day I mentioned slop buckets, which sent me on a sentimental journey back to my childhood.  I don't recall my parents ever having a slop bucket; Mother just carried all the tomato skins, sour milk, rotten fruit and other kitchen leavings directly out to the chickens, which were the only livestock my parents kept.  Did you know chickens will eat about anything?  They can't make use of potato peelings, although Mother always tossed those into the mix; the chickens seemed to have lots of fun scratching around through them, anyhow.  But I digress.
Most full-time farmers had a slop bucket sitting on the mud porch; whey from making cottage cheese went into it, as well as tidbits of any sort of leftover food.  It also served as a night-time chamber pot.  I know that sounds gross, but it was a different era, and neither pigs nor chickens are squeamish about such things.  In the early years of our marriage, back at our twenty acres, Cliff and I had a slop bucket on our back porch, although we never used it as a chamber pot; we had an inside bathroom.  I usually had lots of extra milk, plus of course the table scraps.  We bought burlap bags of a wheat by-product called "wheat shorts", and we'd mix that into the slop until it was thick like gravy.  The pigs would dive right in while I was pouring it into the trough, getting this "gravy" poured right on top of their heads as they ate.  It's so much fun to feed pigs!  
While I'm strolling through memories:  Mother did the driving for our family; Daddy just preferred not to drive if he could get out of it.  When mother pulled into a gas station, she'd always ask for "a dollar's worth" of gas.  I'm not sure she ever asked the attendant to "fill 'er up" like my brother-in-law did.  Not until we moved to the city, anyhow.  
The Churches of Christ used to have first-Sunday singings; several congregations would take turns hosting this event.  We'd go to church in Eagleville as always, then head to Gilman City or Davis City, Iowa, or Hamilton to gather with like-minded Christians from within a fifty-mile radius.  It seemed like we'd have a flat tire every time we got a little bit of distance between us and home.  Daddy tended to get noisy when he had to change a flat tire, and Mother would be reminding him not to get his suit dirty and not to lose his temper (too late), which only increased the volume of his tirades.  
In summertime back then, Mother would make me wear a hair-net in the car to keep my hair from blowing with the windows down.  My goodness, cars were HOT and DUSTY with no air conditioning.
We'd arrive at our destination, and there'd be food laid out on makeshift tables in the church, or in the case of Davis City, at the city park.  I liked going to the singings there, because we gathered in a shelter house to do our singing.  It just seemed like more fun, singing outside.  
Churches of Christ didn't (and still don't, for the most part) have instrumental music; everybody learned to sing their parts, and the harmony made up for the lack of instruments.  The little rural congregations were small, usually made up of fifty to seventy-five members.  When several of them got together on the first Sunday, the singing was wonderful.  
Each man who was willing took his turn leading a song or two.  Leading songs simply meant standing in front, calling out the page number of your song, and starting it off, hopefully at the right pitch.  Once in awhile there would be a real song leader in attendance:  He'd pull a pitch-pipe from his pocket, blow on it, hold the book in one hand, and direct the singing with his other.  Quite impressive, in my young mind.  It looked so professional!   
Sometimes the song leader would take requests.  I always asked for "On Jordan's Stormy Banks", my favorite song throughout my growing-up years.  Back then, I preferred the livelier songs, although it was also fun to sing the alto parts on "Whispering Hope" and "It Is Well With My Soul".  
Dinner was at 1 P.M., allowing people from the area time to get there after getting out of their own church; the actual singing started at 2:30 and ended around 4.  When it was over, people would stand around visiting for awhile and then be on their way home.  
Back home, I stayed in my Sunday dress and shoes because we'd be going to church again at 7 o'clock.  OK, scratch the shoes; I've never left my shoes on at home.  Still don't.  Besides, my Sunday shoes were always uncomfortable.  
We spent a lot of time at church.  After evening services, grownups chatted about crops and  caught up on the local news while we kids passed the time however we could, playing tag or just talking.  I was usually ready to go home long before my parents were.  
That's my meanderings for this morning.  How's that for an abrupt ending? 


  1. I have a slop bucket too, I call it a compost bucket. All kitchen scraps except meat go into it and it goes into the compost pile. We had pigs when I was a kid too, my sister and I had to feed them. We had to dump the food on the heads too because they would raise up screaming for food on the side of the pen. We dumped and ran!

  2. One of the blogs I read said that where they live they still have a modernized slop bucket in their kitchen and have recycling there for it too. I think it was in Canada some place. I also found one for one of my sons who has a compost pile and he saves peelings, coffee grounds, egg shells and such for his compost. Some of the old ways are still being used. Thanks for the memories of the sings too. My grandmother's church had Saturday night sings. We'd walk the dirt road to the church. No instruments were used but the harmonizing was wonderful. I'll never forget it. Now our church gathers Weds. to sing and praise. I don't go but would enjoy it. Evenings for me are now spent at home... Have a great Thursday and enjoy the memories, I am.

  3. Your memories are always so interesting. I remember wearing a hairnet in the car. Never had pigs or chickens though, I guess you didn't have to pay for trash pick up. Vicki

  4. Our little church holds a "singing" once a year on a Saturday. We do have instruments or folks can bring backup tapes to sing with. We start around 2 in the afternoon, break around 5 or so for dinner on the ground and then back at it until there is no one left with anything to sing. Solos, groups, trios, etc. Good times! In fact this years is only about a week away!

  5. I remember our slop bucket and they even put the dish water in it. Our chamber pot was seperate though.

  6. I enjoyed this post! We had a slop bucket when I was a kid (also called the scrap bucket) for the chickens. And I can remember whenever we were playing as if we were driving a car and stopping to get gas we'd always say, "Two dollars worth, please," or "Two dollars regular, please," because that's what we always heard our parents say.


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