Leonard Smith with mules (Alma and Frank) - 1927

Smith Farm at English Wolf Creek - 1946

The Descendants of George Washington Hunter ~ 1815-1880 

Hunter Family Network

Denvis Earls, grandson of

Leonard and Callie (Hunter) Smith

Winter Nights

I remember the cold winter nights at Grandma’s house. There

was no heat upstairs, but the stove in the dining room, was a

warm relief on those chilly winter evenings. Grandma and

Grandpa and us boys sat around the radio (I think it was a

Crystal set; I remember it had an antenna wire that stretched

out through the window to the clothes line.) listening to our

favorite radio shows while we washed eggs that we were taking

to Hildebrand’s store to trade the next day.

We listened to “The Shadow”, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and

Amos and Andy.

One night, Grandpa took us boys out into the field above the

yard, to look at stars. He told us the name of some of the constellations and by looking at the Big Dipper, how to find the North Star.

One of the things I remember most was the full moon. As we sat there in the wet grass, we looked up at the moon. Grandpa asked us what we saw.I don’t remember what the others said, but I said, “I can see a man driving sheep and walking across the moon.” Many nights after that, I sat or lay in the grass watching the moon and the clouds and stars, and wondering what was there, and seeing things that I thought were there. A short decade later, men actually walked on the face of the moon.

I regret that I lost the ability to see what was happening on the moon.

How Cold Was It?

Grandma had a two-holer outhouse. That in itself was different enough for city boys, but getting to it, on a cold and snowy night was another matter.When we “peed” on the toilet seat, Grandma would make us get a hot bucket of water and some Pine Sol, and wash down the toilet.

Well, on cold winter nights, it seemed sometimes impossible to run all the way out to the outhouse. I remember stopping at the edge of the breezeway on a winter night, and thinking, “who will know? I’ll just pee off the porch.”

The next morning I was awakened by Grandma’s stern voice, inquiring as to who peed in the yard. It didn’t occur to me that night that the yellow snow would leave clues the next morning. Chastened, I always made it to the outhouse after that.

The Attic

The attic was off to one end of the room in which I always stayed. I was sure there were lots of ghosts in there, though I think I only saw one. Most of the time, Grandma made us stay out of there, but when Uncle Clyde got me interested in collecting stamps, I asked Grandma if she had any old stamps. She said there were letters in the trunk in the attic, and that I could have the stamps. I spent several afternoons cutting and pulling stamps off those old letters. Most were from the 1930s, but there was a series of letters to Grandma from Grandpa who was in the Army before they got married. She also kept letters from some other guys. I asked her about them, thinking they might be relatives. It turned out Grandma had a lot of beaus to choose from, but she married Grandpa anyway.

Among the things she let me have were the Ration Stamps from WWII. I still have those.

A Good Willow Switch

Dad liked to dump us on Grandma during the summer. It was probably the only time that he and Mom got to get away from three rowdy boys. Besides, Mom still had two little ones at home. But, staying at Grandma’s was not always a “vacation”. Grandma would say that we needed to earn our keep, which meant that there was always some chore there that needed to be done. After about a week, one time, I decided to run away. I can’t recall where I thought I was going to go, but I planned to go far.

I said something crude to Grandma and started up the lane. She came walking after me, calling me to come back. I was crying and refusing to return, and somehow, it seemed my feet were so heavy I couldn’t makeany progress in getting away from that place. I could see that Grandma was going to catch up with me, for I had stopped in my tracks. She said she was going to whip me with a willow switch if I didn’t turn around.

I bent over and started throwing rocks at her, none of which met their mark.And, I was bawling like a baby. Grandma started laughing so deeply that she bent over, and had to hold her side. By that time, I was laughing too, and crying when I could remember to do so. We walked back to the yard where she splashed some water on my face, and I felt better. She still owes me that whipping.

Riley Birch

After Grandpa died, Grandma hired Riley Birch to help around the farm. I don’t know how old Riley was, but to me at 13, he seemed ancient. Riley had a pair of mules to pull the farm equipment. I was staying with Grandma that summer, and would be returning in the fall for the corn harvest. One day, Riley was out in one of the front fields mowing hay. Grandma told me to take him a jar of cold water. As I approached where he was working, I noticed he was laying down in front of the mower blade, and appeared to be trying to fix something. I didn’t speak until I got closer. It was then that I noticed he was in front of the mower blade, sound asleep, with his head on the sickle blade. Those two old mules just stood there. One looked around as if to say, “that old fool”, but shook its head and continued to stand stone still. I walked behind the mower and applied the brake, and then quietly shook Riley until he awoke. I told him I thought he could have been killed.He said, “Naw, them mules won’t move an inch if they don’t have to.”

With thought toward the coming winter, and the corn crop, and knowing I would not be available to pick the bottom 14 acres until late October (after football season), Riley began building a 30 bushel sled so that I could use the horse and sled to pick the corn when the ground was soft or even frozen but wouldn’t support a wagon. He soaked two 10 inch sassafras poles about 15 feet long in the creek for a week. Then, using fire, bent them to have an upturned front runner. The box was simple enough, and had four sides and a bottom made of rough barn lumber. We mounted the box to the runners with wooden wedges, and made a bounce-board to throw the corn against as we picked and walked the field. I don’t know what became of Riley, but that October, I picked fourteen acres of corn, hauling it thirty bushel at a time up to the corn crib, shoveled it into the crib, and then headed back to the corn field. I learned to use a corn hook and could shuck an ear, and throw it into the box all in one movement.

Granny with John and Bryan

Linda and I lived in a little white cape cod house on Twin Creek for a couple years. I spent a lot of time away from home politicking. I don’t know how we managed it, but Grandma came to stay with us for a few days. She was using a stick to get around then, but was always in good spirits. We had a tire swing where the boys liked to swing out over the creek. Grandma seemed to enjoy pushing them, and of course, they loved it. One of our favorite pictures is of Grandma walking around the front of the house using her cane with two little boys in tow.

Clean Off Tin

Grandma got a new stove. After it was installed, she sat and read the instructions. For a couple minutes, she was poking around, inspecting every part of the new stove. When I asked whether there was a problem, she said that she couldn’t fine the “tin”. I asked her what a “tin” was. She thought it was a part of some sort. We couldn’t find anything that looked like tin. Finally, she handed me the instructions. I read, “Clean often.”Well, problem solved.

Hunter Legacy - The Descendants of George Washington Hunter

by Denvis Earls

June 29, 2011

The Hunter History & Stories from Family members

Hunter Legacy - The Descendants of George Washington Hunter © All rights reserved.

Callie (Hunter) Smith - 1946