Two Orlando residents, Nina (Smarr) Myers and P. N. "Newt" Blake, aka Uncle Zeke, remember how it was when they were young. Nina remembers Orlando in the late 1930s and the 1940s. Then Newt Blake/Uncle Zeke, who was in her foster parents' generation, looks back still farther, to the last decades of the 1800s.
by Nina (Smarr) Myers, 2009
My formative years were Clover Fork made, in the Holbert home on upper Clover Fork. My foster parents were Abia and Margaret Etta (Cunningham) Holbert, both of whom were born in the decade following the Civil War, My foster parents were in their sixties when I first came to their home in 1935, and in most respects, they were brought up with few farm or household conveniences which began appearing later in rural West Virginia after 1900. I often reminisced with my foster parents about the “olden days.” I experienced some of the “olden” days myself since I am now in my mid-80’s. The other day, I was speaking with a cousin in Webster County about the “olden days.” During the conversation, we enjoyed harkening back to the days of yesteryear and I thought I might share some of those memories with the Orlando web page.
Left: Nina Smarr
Right: Nina's foster parents Abia and Margaret Etta (Cunningham) Holbert
~ Shoe soles were made of leather. When a hole was worn in the sole, a temporary patch would be made of cardboard until the shoes could be re-soled.
~ When shirts were worn out, the buttons were also removed so they could be re-used.
~ When men or women wanted to appear “stylish,” shirt sleeves would be turned up at the cuff. A person would be really avant-garde if he or she rolled the sleeves up to the elbow.
~ All shirts were long-sleeved. Summer shirts would be of lighter weight and winter shirts were usually woolen. There were no short-sleeved shirts.
~ Clothes were changed about once a week and coincided with the weekly baths, which often consisted of a “sponge” bath.
~ Hair curlers were made of strips cut from Prince Albert cans which were rolled and covered with cloth.
~ Hair was curled with heated curling irons and crimpers.
~ Much of the clothing worn was made from feed sacks.
~ There was always cuffs on trousers.
~ All underwear went to the ankles. There was no short underwear. For toilet convenience, “union suits” came about.
~ Men wore suspenders, not belts, which were also called galluses or braces.
~ Women wore garters to hold up their stockings and men wore them to hold up their socks.
~ There were no blue jeans, but only overalls.
~ Either the mother or father was the family barber.
~ There was usually a “lay” dentist in the neighborhood who could pull a tooth when needed.
~ Some meals consisted only of cornbread, mush or corncakes and milk.
~ When the cow went “dry” there was no milk until after the calf was born.
~ Meat was rarely on the dinner table, unless it was pork, rabbit, squirrel, or groundhog.
~ Apples and beans were dried and used during the winter time.
~ Families did not use sugar but used molasses or honey instead.
~ Flies would be chased out of the house through open doors with towels so a meal could be eaten without flies bothering the table.
~ Sears Roebuck catalogs were used as toilet paper in the outhouses.
~ Straw ticks and feather beds were used on the beds. Early mattresses were made by penitentiary workers.
~ Radios had batteries. Only a few programs, such as the “Lone Ranger” and the news would be listened to in order to preserve the life of the battery.
~ Pencils were sharpened by pocket knives which preserved the life of the pencil.
Do You Remember?
~ When the evening meal was composed of mush and milk?