Come sit on the porch awhile. Enjoy a glass of sweet iced tea as you peruse my thoughts, memories, dreams and images of family and friends - things trivial and not so trivial - past, present and future. I write and post for the simple pleasure of doing so. If you reap some small amount of pleasure from what you find here please come back again soon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Grandpa’s Honey, Grandma’s Biscuits, Delicious Memories For One Scared Little Girl

Ada & Larkin were "Grandpa & Grandma" to me

When I was a little girl I sometimes spent the summer months with my mother's parents in Madisonville, Tennessee.

Grandpa and Grandma lived a hard life in a modest two-bedroom, gray-shingled house with front and back porches. They had eleven children, made a living farming and had very few modern conveniences. Their water came from a rain-filled cistern well near the back porch. There was no running water in the house and no indoor ceramic tubs or sinks or anything like that. Baths were taken in a galvanized tub which was also used for rinsing laundry along side of the ringer washing machine. Clothes were hung on a closeline to dry in the wind. Their toilet was an outdoor wooden structure – a "two-hole outhouse" they called it – 60 feet or so from the back porch and down a slight hill to the right, as I remember.

On the rare occasions when they were not busy around the house and farm they were rocking – on the front porch on sunny afternoons and in the living room in the cool of the evenings. Grandpa always wore a fedora hat and smoked cherry flavored tobacco in a crooked pipe as he rocked. Grandma always wore a cotton dress and thick nylon stockings rolled just below the knees. Only on Sunday mornings going to church was she seen without a cotton apron over her dress. As they quietly sat and rocked, they both seemed very old to me, when I was only five.

Grandma's house was clean and tidy. The room where she and grandpa slept was cozy and inviting. The bed was made up with a lovely chenille spread and pretty ceramic whatnots adorned the night stand and dresser. A yellow bulb in the bedside lamp gave the room a warm glow. There was a radio that played in the evenings but no television.

I remember sitting at the kitchen table watching grandma kneading biscuit dough in a big round aluminum dishpan and wiping her floured hands on her ever present apron. It seemed she was all the time elbow-deep in some kind of bread makings, while her delicious meals simmered on the stove.

Grandma came from an era when families ate three home cooked meals each and every day. She never adapted from cooking for a family of twelve to preparing a meal for just the two of them. There were always leftovers to snack on between meals and perhaps that's how I came to appreciate a good cold biscuit. On occasions when family visited she was still right comfortable making huge trays of piping hot "cat-head" biscuits to go along with crispy fried chicken and creamy mashed potatoes. ("Cat-head" biscuits were so named because they were hand formed and as big around as a cat's head.)

Grandpa was a skilled beekeeper and sweet succulent honey with comb was always available in a covered glass dish on the table. One of Grandma's hot buttered biscuits smothered in Grandpa's clover honey was the best treat in the whole world and nothing has ever been more delicious. And I loved chewing on the honeycomb, it was the closest thing we had to chewing gum.

Grandpa and Grandma are many years gone from this earth now but I still have that covered glass dish. Instead of honey it now holds many precious memories from my childhood visits with them. Although their life was difficult and filled with hardships they remained kind and generous and never did I hear them complain. And they always managed to make a visiting little granddaughter, who was scared to death of being so far from home, feel safe and loved.


  1. I enjoyed reading hit home in so many takes me back to a a time of wonder and learing from the wise and wonderful people of my childhood... I'll never forget what I learned about life from them...

  2. Jake, thank you for your comment. Someone said if you don't look back to see where you've been you won't know where you are going. That makes sense to me.