"Mountain Memories" Page 13
I have often wondered why they made the hammer handles thin and limber but I never thought to ask when I was told this story many years ago.
Babcock Lumber Company made a big difference in the lives of these mountain people. Before, the men struggled to keep bread on the table, and what few vegetables they could raise on the slopes and hollows of this rugged country too soon were eaten up by the large families they also raised. There was hardly any way to preserve the garden vegetables. They dried a lot of their fruits and vegetables to be eaten in the winter months: berries, pumpkins, and most of all apples, from which they made delicious applesauce stack cakes and apple pies.
They also bleached apples. I wish I had the recipe for this, but I never asked my mother for it. In all the years she made these apples she would not let us kids watch her do it. In the process, she somehow burned sulphur and it is a very suffocating odor. She was concerned that the odor would strangle us. She always bleached the apples in the attic and "bleached" was a good description of them: they were very white and tasted strange but good.
When these old timers canned with zinc lids and rubber bands they could not can vegetables, just fruit, and often it would spoil. Sometimes they turned the jars upside down and threw a quilt over them and let them sit over night.
The cattle and hogs were allowed to run loose in the forest and people fenced them out instead of fencing them in. They made slats (thin strips of wood) and put around their gardens. They cut slits in the hogs' ears so they could tell which hog belonged to whom.
Every man in the mountains that wanted to work had jobs after the arrival of Babcock Lumber Company. The company had come in from the "flat lands," as the mountain people called it, to buy the timber that clothed these mountainsides and choked up the valleys like a jungle and spread out on every side as far as the eye could see. Lumber was big business, and Tellico Plains became a booming town. People came from allover the country and men were hired on every side and put to work. Huge buildings had to be quickly thrown together for temporary living quarters. These buildings were called camps and were numbered as you came