Sugar Pie, Honey…

MD-Carlton Nabb George Stewart_1x

George Stewart

Farm Life, by Carlton Nabb

Hopefully spring has finally arrived down here on the farm. The warmer weather always makes the old bones feel better and brings back many memories of years past.

The smell of the chicken manure being spread on the fields is a sure reminder it’s time to start the field work. When there were herds of dairy cows in the county their source of fertilizer was also very important to the farmer.
The other day I was riding past Dick Wilson’s farm outside of East New Market and noticed the beautiful field of alfalfa growing. Alfalfa is probably the first hay crop to come off in the spring and it is a wonderful feed, full of protein and energy for any animal making milk.

This brings back to mind a somewhat nasty but true incident that happened to me when we had Holsteins. As I said before, alfalfa was the first spring hay to be cut and baled. Most often the first cutting was full of sap and was hard to cure. If it was baled too soon after being cut it would go through a heat and the bales would be so heavy you could hardly put them on the wagon to take to the barn loft. Of course Dad and his old Massey Harris baler did not help matters any. He could only bale one length – about four feet long. This would produce a good seventy to eighty pound bale.

You knew that when the bale came out of the chute and hit the ground, if it moved just a little it was okay, but when it was a dull thud with no movement you knew it was going to be a long day. Once the old baler was cranked up in the morning she was not shut down until the dew just got bad in the evening. The baler was powered by a huge old hand-cranked Wisconsin engine. If she shut off for any reason, you might just as well walk away from her. You could turn that crank until your arms fell off but she would not start until she cooled down.

Once during the evening milking, the cows were brought off the rye grass pasture and fresh hay, and we started the nighttime work. After the cows were put in their stanchions we brought in the Delaval milking units to get started. Now there were two rows of cows being milked with a walk way behind the animals and the manure gutter behind each cow. The rich green alfalfa and rye made good milk but also a very loose byproduct for the gutter.

MD-Carlton Nabb Lottie Chase 1x

Ms. Lottie Chase

We got started milking and I turned on the little radio that was at the end of the barn. The cows seemed to like the music and Dad did not mind as long as it was kept down in volume. I had my wash bucket with warm water and soap to wipe each cow’s udder off before we milked her. It cleaned the bag and teats off and the girls seemed to really like the rub down. Now it took a few minutes for each cow to milk and I would usually take the three legged milk stool and sit in the middle of the walkway hoping that I would have time to get to the roller rink in town after work.

There I sat – singing along with the rock & roll group, the Four Tops. Just as they got to the line, “Sugar pie, Honey Bunch” it happened. Bossie had to go to the bathroom, but she also had a big cough at the same time. As I sang “sugar pie” it hit me with full force. I fell off the stool covered from head to foot and ran to the water trough as hard as I could go. Half of my body hung over the trough and I tried not to swallow as best I could. Well, brother George thought that this was the funniest event of the week. I got to the hose, stripped my clothes off and took an outdoor shower for all the world to see.

When I started this column I wanted to tell about the colored folks that lived in the Fork Neck-Drawbridge area. They were my neighbors, co-workers, fellow farmers, and friends; and also happened to be a different color. Now I guess I have already made a big mistake when I said colored folks instead of Afro-Americans or Black Americans. These were terms that I really cannot remember being used often in those days.

No matter who we are, where we live, what color our skin, the history of mankind has always been ruled by the fact that there is going to be change. Whether or not the change of events that trigger these changes is good or bad is in the eyes of the beholder. The schools and society as a whole were segregated at this time. Not separated by blatant hate or mistrust, but separated by human nature itself and archaic laws of the past.

Yes, there have been many springs I have seen come and go, but I truly believe that the 50s and 60s was the best time for me to grow up. I know that this was the beginning of the time period when civil unrest started up, but my world was small.

Part of this world was the small store and tavern owned by Lena Pinder on Drawbridge Road. About fifty years ago I was down to the store one evening having my RC Cola and Hobo bun. I was shooting a game of pool with, I believe, John Francis Pinder and there were several other people there. Lena was behind the counter and she said “Nabb Boy,” (I don’t know if she ever called me by my name) “come here.” I went across the room and she said, “put your arm up here on the bar.” I knew I could beat her in arm wrestling, especially since she was feeling no pain. Lena put her arm next to mine and since it was dead summer time I was almost as brown as she was. She said “Nabb Boy, there’s almost as much white Bucktown blood in me as in you.” I didn’t know what to say except that it sure looked like it. Everyone else in the bar almost fell out of their chairs laughing.

Just on Fork Neck Road there were at least ten families who had small farms that backed up to the Middletown Branch. Over on Drawbridge Road there was Height Road, Rocky Hook, the Mission and small stores everywhere. However, the center of these communities were their churches–Waters Methodist Church, the Mission and Aireys Church. Sunday was the day of rest, religion and fried chicken.

Ms. Rulene Molock supplied photos and information about the families from the area. Mr. Calvin Molock, who is now 94 years old, described the hard times during the Great Depression and how their families somehow survived.
Many of the Pinder, Cephas, Stewart, Chase and other families have never left the area. Their final rest in the Fork Neck Cemetery is the key to their heritage – this is their home.

I knew just about everyone, or their children or grandchildren, that made up this story. I have seen the offspring of these families do good in this world, since the one factor that settled in the minds of all concerned was their kids get a good education and get a good job.

In those days, when a young person got the high school diploma they could count, write a sentence, and knew where Europe was located. There was usually a family unit of Mom, Dad and children. Welfare was not the normal reason to have a house full of kids. Large families in those days were the norm. Kids helped on the farms and there was no reason for mom and dad to stay up late since there was sometimes no TV. Besides, late night entertainment was in the eye of the beholder. There was no talking back to teachers or bus drivers and never-never touch a teacher out of anger. If the paddle was used at school the hickory switch was used at home that night.

I’m going to stay down here on the Transquaking River as long as I am able to move. I’m going to still be surrounded by colored folks, and Calvin Molock can still say to me, “Come on in to my house boy, let’s have a talk.”

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