Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Inside the 1930s Corn Crib Gazebo

We're celebrating Fall in our Corn Crib "Gazebo". . .More inspirational photos at:
Of course, the Corn Crib will be open for rest and relaxation--
and maybe a game of checkers--on our tours. . .
I'll show you the exterior of this popular farm building soon. . .
Have a wonderful Fall Day!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Happy Faces

It's Fall and that means Field Trips. . .We've been blessed hosting several local school groups who have come to visit the farmstead and to learn about their Delta history. . .I do have a confession about the photos, though. . .These were taken a couple of years ago--with the permission of the students. . .Honestly, I'm so busy during our tours that I forget to take current photos. . .But, I assure you that the smiling faces are very much a part of any of the school field trips. . . .These happy kids were from the Gosnell School District. . .I snapped these shots while they were having a picnic lunch. . . .We had toured them earlier and once the lunch was over, they were free to walk around and revisit the places that interested them. . .It was really a fun day for us all. . .and we are having more fun days this year. . .We have added stations to visit and to experience hands-on displays. . .The shotgun house is open. . .There is a lot more vintage farm equipment to see. . .The company store has changed inside. . .More 1930s games. . .and a story or two from John and myself. . .It's an act of love for our Delta history and hopefully each student leaves with a better understanding of life in the 1930s.
We've been so busy that I haven't had the time to post sneak peeks of the farmstead. . .but. . .this week I will be catching you up. . .There will be much activity here on the blog, as well as at the farm. . .It's Fall and an exciting time for us all.
See You at the Farm

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Gladys Watson's Delta Folk Art

 I have often posted about the Folk Art of our local artist Gladys Watson of Monette, AR. . .Gladys left a legacy of artwork depicting the Delta farm life on anything she could get her hands on. . .Read her story and see how close she has come to documenting our own farm at:
The scenes she painted were once common to Northeast Arkansas but now are pretty much gone. . .Where tenant houses and barns once sat there's only miles and miles of farmland and crops. . .Farmers now work 18,000 acres with a crew of 8-10. . .The small farmers are gone. . .and with them went farm scenes such as in Gladys's paintings.
Many of us have a collection of her work. . .I rarely see it for sale anywhere. . .which is interesting since most of her work was done in the late 1980s-1990s and should be showing up at antique malls. . .Every now and then I hear from a fellow collector such as Becky Mojica who inherited this collection that I'm sharing with you from her Mom Mary Jo Edwards. . .She has several pieces that I don't have. . .proof that Gladys painted on anything. . .Thanks so much for sharing them Becky!
You'll be able to view a few pieces of Gladys Watson's Delta Folk Art on our farm tours. . .
Her work holds a prominent spot in our Company Store. . .along with vintage photos of our own tenant houses that once stood on the Magers-Duncan Farm. . . They too are gone now. . .only memories. . .so. . .come on. . .and. . .
Experience life on a 1930s Delta Farmstead.
From The Farmer's Daughter Collection

Friday, September 19, 2014

Topping the Log House

They say a picture is a thousand words.
That's certainly the case here.
We've waited years to see this day. . .
when the 1824 logs would be off the ground and a standing building again.
A shell of a house it might be. . .
but just to see it standing there with a roof overhead is a major step forward for us.
We're doing our 'happy dance'. . .

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Inside Cowboy's Humble Home

Cowboy was a character and a half. . .Floyd Cook was born on one of Granddaddy's farms and continued working for Daddy when my Granddad passed away. I never knew him as anything but 'Cowboy'. . .nor do I know the story behind the name. . .It was only when we moved back to Arkansas nine years ago that I learned of his birth name. . . As I said, he was a character--wore boots, smoked a cigar, Western shirts were his choice and he had a gruff but endearing way about him. . .Every now and then Mom would ask Daddy to send Cowboy to our home in Dell to help her weed the flower beds. . .Cowboy sure didn't take kindly to that chore. . .He'd mumble under his breath and make it obvious he had no interest in 'women's work'. . .I remember Mom becoming so frustrated with him. . .I quietly watched and laughed to myself. . .It was like two goats butting heads. . .I still grin every time I think about it.

At Christmas my Dad carried on with Granddaddy's tradition of giving a box of Russell Stover Candy to everyone who worked on the farm--as well as friends and neighbors. . .It fell to my brother and me to deliver it on Christmas Eve each year. . .Of course, Cowboy's shotgun house was one of the places we were sent. . .He would come to the door, smoking that cigar, take the box of candy and acknowledge with a loud, "Humph". . .That was it. . .Never knew if it was a good Humph or if he was expecting more. . .

My encounters with Cowboy were mostly brief and at a distance. . .yet any time I think back to those days on the farm, I think about him. . .Somehow he became endearing to me. . .Maybe I romanticize it too much like we so often do when looking back in the past. . .but I do wish I had spent more time around him and learned of his family history and listened to the stories he told. . .When you're young, you think the familiar people in your life will always be there. . .

When John and I ordered our two shotgun houses, built by the Amish in Mississippi, I knew one had to be furnished for Cowboy. . .I never went inside his house, so I've furnished it with much artistic license. . .I furnished it as I remembered him. . .the items I saw him wear. . .the cigar boxes I'm sure he emptied. . .the kerosene lamp he must have owned. . .It's definitely a masculine house. . .very plain and make-do as I remember the interiors of other shotgun homes.

In fact, even though the furnishings look sparse, there is actually more than many tenants had. . .Cowboy is doing well compared to many others during the Great Depression. . .

No running water. . .It had to be carried in from the well. . .No electricity. . .In the early 30s there was no service at all even if the tenant could afford it. . .No indoor bathrooms. . .That's where the Saturday night bath in a #2 washtub came about. . .Often no interior walls, although it seems most of the homes here did have sheetrock as an added barrier to the cold north winter wind. . .Newspaper often covered the walls in the same manner of store bought wallpaper. . .It helped insulate and added a little interest, too. . .

It was a life of make-do. . .'waste not, want not'. . .They were  'Going Green' and recycling long before the present time. . .I suppose many see only the hardship endured. . .I asked Daddy one time what it felt like to live through the Depression. . .He came from a family with very little money. . .They lived in Alabama until they were about to starve. . .He talked often about not having any breakfast except for a piece of left-over cornbread and a little sorghum molasses. . .I couldn't imagine going to school without a full stomach. . .But, when I asked him how it felt, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "It wasn't any big deal. Everyone was in the same boat so we didn't know anything else." He and his siblings were loved and happy and that was enough. They moved to Kennett, Missouri for a better life. . .Daddy was 13 years old and took on two jobs--one before and one after school--in order to help the family out. . .Soon after the move, times got better. . .They were never without food or other necessities again.

Times were hard in the Delta, too. . .Sharecroppers and tenants rarely got out of debt. . .Houses were provided but often lacked anything but the basics. . .I marvel at people such as Cowboy, born and raised in the fields of the rich Delta dirt. . .who stayed their entire lives no matter the hardship. . .There must have been a deep love for farming. . .for the simplicity of this lifestyle. . .for the ties of work and family that kept them here. . .We in the Delta owe Cowboy and many others like him more credit than we give them for making our farms the successes they are today.

And that's why the shotgun house is staged in Cowboy style.
I've only given you a sneak peek. . .Guess you know what you have to do to see more. . .


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sneak Peeks

Busy-busy-busy. . .That's what it's been around here for the last two months. . .First came the clean-up. . .of grass and weeds (still have lots of those). . .of the barn stalls and their vintage equipment. . .the shotgun house, the corn crib, the company store. . .the outhouse (can't forget that one).

C. A.'s Grocery got an overhaul inside. . .Cowboy's shotgun home now looks as if he's just stepped out for a while--the kitchen and front room filled with items from that era. . .The Widner barn has additional farming equipment--as well as vintages pieces from a sawmill that was located on the Steven's Plantation and donated by Lewis Lammers. . . There's an early John Deere wagon, too, and the old Springfield wagon that brought my Grandparents to Arkansas. . .The screened corn crib has been scrubbed, redecorated and waiting with comfy chairs and a hanging swing. . .My, my. . .I could go on and on. . .but I guess maybe I should just give you a sneak peek, shouldn't I?

So, for the next few weeks, I'll be doing just that. . .sharing photos of the farmstead as we put the finishing touches everywhere for our Fall Tours and Field Trips. . .along with my usual posts and stories about life on a Delta cotton farm. . .Whee. . .So much to do. . .So little time. . .Yet, so much fun. . .It's so satisfying to see the old farm come back to life. . .an exciting time for us. . .and we hope for you, too. . .

Join us this Fall. . .We'll have everything ready for you. . .we hope. . .(grin)



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Three Blocks to C.A.'s Grocery

"Hi, Mama". . .the screen door slamming behind me.
"Hi, Honey. . .You're just in time. . .I want you to run to C. A.'s. . .
I need a jar of Miracle Whip and you might as well pick up a loaf of bread and a quart of milk, too."
"Can I have some Rex Jelly?"
I never missed a chance to ask.
"Not today. . .We have homemade peach and strawberry already open."
Why did we have to eat homemade jam and jelly anyway? Rex was my pick. Nothing in this world as good as Rex Jelly on buttered toast or Sunday biscuits. I didn't much like Mom's biscuits but a big dollop of Rex made them go down a whole lot easier. I much preferred Granny's fluffy biscuits. . .and she always had Rex Jelly on hand. . .Yep. . .In the biscuit category, my Granny made the best.
As I thought about the mysteries of the adult world and how they think,  I grabbed the bright blue Schwinn bike that Santa brought the Christmas before and headed the three blocks to C. A.'s. . . .When the store was in sight, I scanned the possibilities for parking my bike. . . .As usual there were already bikes there. . .leaning against the porch. . .I'd have to park mine on the other side from where I normally put it. . .A minor inconvenience.
Farmhands fresh from their day's work in the field sat on the porch. . .smoking cigarettes. . .eating crackers and cheese. . .sipping on Cokes and Pepsi. . .talking about how hot the day had been. . .and their plans for Saturday's trip 'to town'. . .hardly noticing me as I propped my bike against the porch. . . .I nodded to the sweet old lady next door. . .sitting on the porch of her shotgun house. . .She never failed to say "Hello"  and I always smiled and returned the favor. . .Nearly every time I made a trip to C. A.'s, she was sitting on that porch. . .watching all the comings and goings from a friendly distance. . .It seemed to fill her days.
Quickly I bounded up the old cypress steps and past the men. . .Mom had warned me to never talk to strangers. . .I could smell the mixture of oiled floors, fried 'something', bags of onions and potatoes and ripe bananas drifting through the screen door. . .Oh that screen door . . .In my entire lifetime of store visits, that screen door squeeked open and shut with a loud bang every single time.
"Hello, Little Bit!" . . .that was me.
"Hello, Sissy" . . .my pet name for C. A.
 . . .because he wore the large, white bibbed apron of a butcher. . .Most times we'd find him behind the meat counter--back among the hams and bologna. In those days slices of sandwich meats or pork chops or bacon--well, any kind of meat--were cut, weighed and wrapped in white paper, the price marked on top with a grease pencil.
I continued on my mission. . .grabbing Mom's order and nothing else. . .I did check the Rex Jelly on the lower shelf below the Miracle Whip. . .just to be sure C. A. still carried it. . .When I'd gathered all together, I placed the three items on  the counter in the center of the room for Juanita (C. A.'s wife) to write down the charges on our ledger. . .Daddy would settle up with them at the end of the month.
"Come here a minute, Little Bit."
Those were the sweetest words I'd heard. . .because I knew what was coming. . .On rare occasions it had happened before. . .
"Whatcha need, Sissy?"
 I rounded the corner and stepped to the other side of the meat counter. . .No words. . .just a grin. . .as C. A. looked straight ahead passing me a couple of crackers with peanut butter spread smooth, topped with that shimmering, red jewel of my heart's desire. . .REX JELLY. . .in that moment, C. A. was my Prince Charming. . .and didn't seem like an adult at all. . .It was our little secret. . .one we never spoke of. . .especially around Mom. . .or Juanita.
I gobbled the crackers down. . .wiped my face of the evidence. . .gave C. A. a big hug. . .and headed home. . .grinning all the way.
 Many have asked why the bike leans against the porch of C. A. Smith's Grocery at our farmstead today. . .Others know why because their bikes were once parked there, too.
Me? . . I leave it there in fond memory of a man whose small gestures of love has never been forgotten.

"Thank you, Sissy."
C.A. and Juanita Smith, Dell, AR

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fall Schedule Revealed

Fall is almost here. . .Cotton picking time is a-coming. . .This Farmer's Daughter is already feeling the excitement. . .But, there's another reason for it, too. . .We're resuming Farm Tours through our living history program. . .You won't see hand pickers in the field as in times past. . .What you will see is the activities of a Delta farmstead as it prepares for the coming winter during the Depression Era. . .
Come be a TIME TRAVELER with us. . .Join the activities. . .See the company/plantation store, the barns, the farm shop, the shotgun house. . .Visit with persons of the period. . .and Shop a little, too.
Tours are by reservation only and geared toward school field trips and groups of all ages, but individuals may join in on the fun those days, too. . .Time slots are now available. . .to be filled first come, first serve. . .Find more information and dates at: DUNCAN FARMSTEAD BLOG Jump on over there and read about all the happenings.

So, get that pick sack ready and join us at THE FARM. . .See you there!