Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Other Barns in My Life

When I was younger we made at least one trip to Missouri each year to visit my mother and father’s relatives.  We traveled by car usually taking the southern route through Bakersfield, Barstow, Needles California.  We then drove through Kingman and Flagstaff Arizona, Albuquerque New Mexico, Amarillo Texas, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma, and then to either Ozark Missouri to visit my mother’s family or Greenfield Missouri to visit my father’s family.  We always split the trip between the two families who lived on either side of Springfield.

My parents drove straight through from Martinez, California, to Missouri, trading the driving duties while the other slept, but it still was a two and a half day trip each way.  Occasionally when my dad had a lot of work lined up, my mother and I would take the train to Kansas City and then take the milk train to Springfield where someone from the family would pick us up.
I spent as much time as I could at my Aunt Elma’s home because my cousins were close to my age.  My Aunt Juanita’s children were all older, closer in age to my siblings.  There wasn’t much to do when we visited my Aunt Juanita and uncle Paul T’s other than read, play with the toys or games I had brought along from home, or watch very limited television, because there only about three channels that the antenna could receive and most shows were daytime soap operas with a once a week Mickey Mouse Club show.  Of course it would take growing up and looking back at my childhood memories to smile and want to share them with my children.

My dad was always tinkering with trucks or tractors with Paul T. (we didn’t refer to Paul T. as uncle Paul T, just Paul T., and I don’t remember why and it isn’t really important in the whole scheme of things because he was my uncle and that is all that matters), or other guy stuff around the farm and barn.  Sometimes my dad would take a drive to visit friends he had grown up with.  Mom and Aunt Juanita were always busy talking about friends, sewing, or in the kitchen sharing recipes and cooking.  My Aunt Juanita was a wonderful cook and loved trying out new recipes as much as my mom did. 

My escape was to wander around the farm and sometimes Paul T. would let me help him feed the turkeys.  Every year he had a flock of turkeys he raised and sold just before Thanksgiving.  I would go with him to the barn to get feed and then we filled each of the feeders in the pen.  They say wild turkeys can be mean and aggressive but that was never the case with the big white birds.  They were intimidating, though, because they were so big but I always stuck close to Paul T.

Several times when I visited in the winter months I went with Paul T. to the farm he inherited from his parents Molly and Tom White.  My cousin Gary and his wife Carol Drysdale now own this farm and run cattle on it.  We would open the gate and drive into the farm, making sure to close the gate so the cattle would not escape.  We had hay bales in the back of the truck and Paul T would drive down the road and I would push out the flakes of hay to the cattle that followed along when they heard the truck coming.  I don’t remember ever going in the old house but the barn always had hay stored for winter feedings. 

In the fall my aunt and uncle would gather black walnuts from the farm, storing them in the barn until they had enough burlap bags to fill the truck that they would then take into town to sell.  Once I rode into town with Paul T to sell a load of nuts.  Paul T always had a brown bag of peanuts in the shell to snack on.  I don’t remember if they were raw peanuts or roasted not salted, but the first time I ever tried one, I wanted to spit it out.  Peanuts were not common as they are now, and the only ones I had experience with were salted out of the shell.  Paul T. just laughed.  He was not a man of many words--just quiet, steady, and hardworking. 

Paul T worked full time for a company that built stainless steel tanks for the Anheuser Brewing Company and after working that job he came home and worked full time on the farm.  My aunt Juanita cooked, cleaned, took care of the farm during the day, church committees, and whatever else needed to be done on a farm.  They were both hard working, simple country folks, who loved family, friends, and community. 

The farm I knew and visited was originally owned by my aunt Juanita and her first husband Hugh Drysdale.  When he died she married Paul T. White and they lived on this farm and raised her three children Frenita, Shirley, and Gary. 

The farmhouse and the barns hold memories of my childhood.

After my parents retired and took extended trips to visit family in their fifth wheeler each year, they would sometimes return home with a bag of black walnuts.  I can remember sitting on the garage steps cracking walnuts, sometimes with the help of my kids, to make sure that my mom would have enough nuts to make a batch or two of black walnut fudge at Christmas. 

The following is my mother’s easy recipe for Black Walnut Fudge. 

Black Walnut Fudge

1 – 8 oz. pkg. chocolate chips
1 can Eagle Brand milk
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
1 c. black walnuts, chopped
a dash of salt

In a heavy saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate chips in the milk.  Remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients. 
Spread in a waxed lined 9” pan. 
Chill 2-3 hours. 

Turn out on a cutting board, peel off paper, and cut into squares.

The following recipe is from my aunt Juanita White.

 Pineapple Sheet Cake 
2 c. sugar
½ c. oil
2 c. flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. soda
1-20 oz. can crushed pineapple
1 c. coconut

Combine dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Add eggs, pineapple, coconut, and oil.  Beat.  Put in greased 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan.  Bake at 350° 20-25 minutes.  Frost while warm.  I used 14 x 11 x 2 inch pan.


1 c. sugar
5 ½ oz. evaporated milk (3/4 c.)
1 stick margarine
1 ½ c. coconut
1 c. nuts, chopped

Combine and bring all ingredients to a boil.  Let boil 2 min.  Pour over warm cake.  You may use 1 1/4 c. brown sugar and toasted coconut with milk and margarine above for frosting.

Frosting for larger Cake
1 ½ c. sugar    
8 oz. evaporated milk
1 ½ sticks margarine  
2 ¼ c. coconut
1 ½ c. nuts
1 c. powdered sugar

barn on White homestead - Paul T White
Fernite, Gary, and Shirley Drysdale
Gary Drysdale age 4

Mollie and Tom White homestead now owned by Gary & Carol Drysdale
White - Drysdale farm 2012

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