|Posted by [email protected] on September 4, 2012 at 4:20 PM|
I was blessed to have both my mother and my fraternal grandmother raise me. Lillian Emily James Myers (Nan) was born in Cogan House, Pennsylvania, May 21, 1910 to Thomas and Della Hepler James. Nan was one of seven children. She married my Pappy, Otto Harry Myers and had my Aunt Helen Myers Barto in November, 1933 and my father Harry Otto Myers in June, 1940.
Nanny and Pappy Myers bought the farm that I was raised on in Cogan Station in 1951. It was not a large dairy farm, only 125 acres of which only 58 were tillable, but it was big enough for Pappy and Dad to farm. Unfortunately, in 1970 Emphysema took Pappy leaving my dad to take over the farm. I was six at the time. I am thankful that we were able to stay on the farm after Pappy died.
I have lots of wonderful memories of Nan’s cooking and canning. She had her routine. Every Monday was wash day. She would go to the cellar and pull out the wringer washing machine and she and mom would do laundry. I have great memories of watching the two of them go at the washing. Nan would wash and put the clothes through the wringer, and Mom would hang the clothes on the clothes line behind the house. Every Friday was cleaning day. We would dust and straighten the furniture first and then run the sweeper. We had two good living rooms and then we had the dining/living room where we spent most of our time.
Nan never got her driver’s license because that would mean that she would have to be the gopher and that would have taken her away from her household duties. She was the chief cook and bottle washer in the family. Oh my mother helped out, but Nan ran the house.
Canning was a big deal to our family. We had two huge gardens both of them almost an acre in size. I can remember canning around 500 quarts of tomatoes, 400 pints of sweet corn, 200 quarts of green beans, lots of pickles, pickled beets and a variety of other garden vegetables. Dad would dig the potatoes with the potato digger in the morning and by late afternoon the potatoes were dry enough to crate up and put in the cellar for the winter. We would go to the garden and pick the sweet corn and Dad would back the pickup truck back to the fence and we would shuck the sweet corn and throw the husk over into the pasture for the cows. Boy did they ever like that treat. It would be nothing for us to do a couple of bushel at a time.
We would butcher every fall. I can remember watching them butcher for the first time. I never watched again after that. Finally Dad would take them to John Flook or to Harlan Bower to have the animals processed. I can remember Nan butchering the chickens and yes, they really do run around like a chicken with their heads cut off when they are butchered. That was not a fun time for me either. We would do a hundred in a day. Nan had a very large egg business. We would take care of 150 chickens. We would get a basket full of eggs every day. People would stop by and pick them up or when my dad would take her grocery shopping, she would have my dad drop them off to certain customers.
Every fall we would make the rounds to the area apple orchards so that Nan could get a variety of apples to can into applesauce or to make apple schnitz (dried apples) for the winter. We had several different orchards that we went to. We would go to Landons in Canton, and there was one in Nippenose Valley that we would go to also. Sometimes we went to Wentzlers in Muncy but not often.
Nan made holidays special for the whole family that included the extended family also. It would be nothing for us to have 30 family members at Christmas and Easter. We went to my other grandparents for Thanksgiving. She would prepare a 30+ pound turkey for Christmas. We got our turkeys from our neighbor, Dale Wheeland. He raised the biggest most delicious turkeys that you could ask for. We always ordered a year ahead so that Dale was sure to have the size that Nan wanted. The turkey would barely fit in the over. Every Christmas she and Mom would make caramel popcorn and homemade Chex Mix. Sometimes they would even make popcorn balls. Refrigerator cookies were one of my favorites at Christmas. She would also make raisin filled cookies, but I didn’t like them as much as my sister RuthAnne did.
I remember one year we got a Grand Bride cook stove. It didn’t look like much in the antique (junk) store, but when Nan was through with it, it shone bright black and silver highlights. She would cook on it and bake bread in it and we also used it for heat. It sat in the archway between our kitchen and dining/living room. She would sit by it at night and mend socks or watch TV with my dad.
Nan’s baking was the best. She would make lots of cookies and pies. After breakfast some mornings, our neighbor, Skip Kiess, would stop by on his way to spread manure with his coffee cup in hand and have a treat of some of Nan’s cookies. I also remember one summer when we were putting hay in, she had made a big meal for all of the workers doing hay. There were us girls, my Mom and Dad, my cousin John and his wife and their three children, my cousin Pork and my cousin John’s friend Charlie. Whenever John and his family would come out to the farm, my cousin’s son Jesse would call and ask Nan to make her Schketti (spaghetti). Well this particular time Nan made pies for dessert. We were all sitting around the table eating our dessert when Charlie complemented Nan on her pumpkin pie. John told Charlie that it wasn’t pumpkin. Charlie asked what it was and John told him it was squash pie. Charlie spit out his mouthful and put his fork down and said that he hated squash and would not finish the pie. My cousin John, who sat across the table from Charlie, stood up with fork in hand and proceeded to take Charlie’s piece of pie and commented that meant there was more for him.
After Gerald and I married, I called on Nan lots of time for canning, freezing and cooking advice. She gave me several of her recipes that I still use today. She was of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage and certainly came out in her cooking and her values. Sadly, Nan went home to be with her Lord and Savior in 1998, but her memory is still very much alive in our family.