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Blue Ridge Mountains Getaway


50 Years Ago in Saluda, NC by Herbert E. Pace

  50 Years Ago Around Saluda

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A man by the name of John Stone came to Saluda and bought a farm near Mt. Page Church. Nobody knew where he came from. He had a family of several children - was a good man in the community. In 1906 Mr. Stone and others got up the first R. F. D. mail route out of Saluda. It was about 26 miles long. Arthur Hill was the first mail carrier. Mr. Stone was substitute. At first they used a horse and buggy. It was hard on a horse. There were so many mountains and in winter time the road got so muddy, Mr. Hill had two horses. He would drive one, one day, and the other one. the next day. Then he tried changing them on the route as he crossed the route near Mt. Page. A Mr. Ward would feed the horses and have them ready to go. When he came back he would change again; take the same horse back to Saluda. Mr. Stone was a farmer. He decided he wanted a team of mules, so he got up all the money he had and started off to Tennessee to buy the mules. That night Mrs. Russell (Henry Russell's wife) disappeared. She a neighbor of Stone's and they have not been heard of since. The Stone family moved to South Carolina later.

Mr. Hill carried the mail for a long time. I was his substitute when a Mr. Mitchell who was on his vacation, lived on the route. He worked in a post office in the eastern part of the state. He swapped jobs with Mr. Hill. He thought the route was a good job, so he tried to make it with one horse. Sometimes the horse would give out and he would have to leave it and walk in. So he gave it up. The route was up for a new carrier then. I did not want it. Mr. U. G. Jones was the next mail carrier. I taught him the route. He used a horse for awhile, and then a T-model Ford car; then several other makes of cars. He carried the mail for about 30 years. He is now retired. I did not know I was that old, but I guess I am.

  A Shoemaker, Blacksmith and Undertaker

50 years ago there was a man who lived in our community by the name of John T. Staton. He made shoes and boots; he tanned his own leather with bark and made his own pegs out of wood. I used to hear the old people tell about a man by the name of John Morgan who got Mr. Staton to make him a pair of boots. He got his new boots one night and the next morning he thought he would try them on. Boots were hard to get on if they fit you, and when you got them on they would feel loose; so Mr. Morgan was trying to get his boots on. His wife was in the kitchen cooking breakfast. She heard him in another room fussing; she went to the door and said, “John what in the world is the matter?” He said, “Samantha these boots are so tight and so loose I can't wear them.”

John T. Staton was also a blacksmith. If anybody got sick they would send for John T. And when anybody died he would make the coffin and help bury them.

  Soap and Hominy Made at Saluda

This is the time of the year we begin killing hogs and rending out the lard, and browning the crackling to go into the corn bread. We called this fatty bread 50 years ago. We saved the chitterlings and scraps to make soap. Hog fat and lye were the ingredients. We made the lye from good wood ashes such as oak and hickory. We built a platform with the boards sloping so the lye would drip off into a bucket. We placed a barrel or gun as we called it, and filled it about two-thirds full of ashes and began pouring water in. In a few minutes the lye would come dripping through. It would be strong at first, but would get weaker. We would pour this into a big wash pot with the chitterlings and scraps and boil. This made what we called lye soap. We always made several churns full of soap and kept a gourd handy to dip the soap as needed. We never ran out of soap.

We also made some lye hominy with the same kind of lye in the winter time. We made this by boiling whole grains of corn in a pot of lye.

We also made our own wagon grease. This was made from pine tar. The tar was made by splitting rich pine knots into small pieces and placing them on slanting or grooved rocks. Then we would invert a wash pot and build a hot fire on top of the pot. The heat would melt the tar out of the fat pine. As it melted it would run into the groove in the rock and into a container. This made good wagon grease. Our wagon had wooden axles with a little strip of iron on the bottom and top, and a lurch pin in the end to hold the wheel on. We had no brakes on wagons. We would lock a wheel with a chain on steep hills and take the chain off at the foot of the hill.

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