Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – What Is It?

My life in appalachia - Toothbrushes

Do you know what it is? I’m sure more than a few of you do-but if you don’t come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about it.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.



You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    William Gibson
    September 6, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    Birch or sweet gum twig….my grandmother dipped snuff using a chewed up end of birch twig to dip in her small can of Tube Rose snuff with a sprinkle of salt and sugar mixed in and hold in between inside lower lip and teeth. She put cocoa and sugar in our empty snuff can so we could do the same.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    August 28, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Well, it’s a toothbrush & I would guess it’s birch. My grandmaw always had one with her snuff can & hankie in her apron pocket. On Sundays it went in her pocketbook so she could dip on her way home from church. When Grandmaw was 88 she gave up snuff because one of my aunts convinced her that the fires of hell were waitin’ on dippers. Have always felt kinda sad about that.

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    August 28, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    My first thought was sugar cane because we used to cut off the ends, peel it and chew on it. It was so sweet!,
    But you don’t grow sugar cane here and someone said it wasn’t sorghum, so I just don’t know.

  • Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    It looks like some saplings on my farm that have been discovered by a big ol’ buck. So, I will say it’s ‘evidence’ The Deer Hunter has brought home.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    August 28, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Looks like a toothbrush to me. In SC, we made them from a small branch pulled from a black gum tree–sometimes called the tooth brush tree. At my grandmama’s house, we chewed the end first to get it soft and flossy. Then stuck it in the baking soda, got a small glass of water, and went out on the back porch to brush and spit off the porch. I really liked to do that.

  • Reply
    SandyCarlson (USA)
    August 28, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I’m thinking of all the Ernie Gaines I have read and wondering if it is sugar cane.

  • Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    It’s an old birch toothbrush. People would chew on the end of a twig or small branch until slightly raw like in the pic, then use it to brush their teeth.
    Then the Fuller Brush man brought along real toothbrushes and the old birch toothbrush became a thing of the past.
    Don’t know why the twig had to be birch though.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    My first impression was sugar cane… However, became confused with all the toothbrush ideas. I’ll just have to pop over tomorrow and find out!

  • Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    That’s a good smellin’ birch
    toothbrush. Back in early spring
    the Deer Hunter cut down and sawed
    up several of these for firewood,
    while I loaded. We were both just
    amazed at all the water some had
    sucked up from a branch nearby. I
    think you and the girls were in
    Kentucky that Saturday, while we
    got to play in the woods…Ken

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    August 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    My grandma always had her “mahogany” toothbrush and her Big G snuff sitting beside her rocking chair. (Although she would always deny dipping snuff even though I am the one that bought it for her!!)
    I’m not sure why she referred to it as “mahogany”.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    August 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    My first thought was a toothbrush too–sassafras was the usual kind. The old ladies used it to put snuff in their mouths–rubbed it on their gums.
    I just showed it to my husband who said its some kind of stick-he’d never heard of a stick toothbrush.

  • Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I can’t wait to find out also! I am trying to learn the trees, bushes and wildflowers up here in Western North Carolina.
    Thanks for commenting on my blog, hope to meet you soon through Pam or Jackie in Brasstown
    Smiles, cyndi

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 28, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Is it a tooth brush? I know sticks of a certain type wood were used to clean the teeth.
    It can’t be the back end of a home made arrow, it wouldn’t be balanced enough.

  • Reply
    Dale Anderson
    August 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Looks like a Black Gum twig toothbrush to me.

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    August 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    sweet gum twig? I thought about ya’ll and the hurricane-glad all is safe

  • Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    The toothbrush idea was the first thing that came to my mind. We used sassafras which had an aromatic taste. It isn’t green enough to be sorghum cane. For a little story about the toothbrush check out my post for January 4,2009, “The Borrowed Toothbrush”.
    I love all the entertaining ideas you come up with!

  • Reply
    Wayne Newton
    August 28, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Tipper, Grandma for sure carried two items in her apron pocket: a snuff can, and a twig for cleaning her teeth.
    She eased it out of her mouth (into the pocket) if someone other than family came around: then replaced it when they were gone.
    Her yards were full of all kind of trees, but I never did find out which one hers came from.

  • Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Hi Tipper!
    Is it rhubarb? I use to love rhubarb pie that my mama and Aunt Ella made. Kind of “sweet tart” taste. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and boy ! It was some kind of good.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    August 28, 2011 at 10:11 am

    I’m going along with a twig toothbrush.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    August 28, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I’m with the toothbrush group

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    August 28, 2011 at 9:48 am

    It looks like my Grannies toothbrush or the twig that she used to dip her snuff with…
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I have heard my great Grandfather never owned a toothbrush, but was observed cleaning teeth with a twig from, I think, a birch. He never had dentures.

  • Reply
    Mama Crow
    August 28, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Great Aunt Lizzie always had one of these in her mouth when we’d go for walks. She’d use it to brush her teeth and stimulate her gums, and when done, she’s use it to get her next dip of snuff into her mouth between the lower lip and jawbone. There was always a small snuff can about the size of a large spool of thread that lived in her apron pocket, and was as much a part of her person, as a pocket knife was to the gents.

  • Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 9:02 am

    It’s twig toothbrush!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    August 28, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Looks like sugar cane when they used to cut it off for us kids to chew, but the “cane” looked more like bamboo so I am going to say it’s not.

  • Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 8:35 am

    I have no idea! Can’t wait till tomorrow to find out. LOL

  • Reply
    Rick Kratzke
    August 28, 2011 at 8:17 am

    My guess is a wooden flag pole.

  • Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 8:14 am

    They say the toothbrush was invented in Arkansas. If it had been invented elsewhere it would have been a teethbrush. Just kidding all you Arkies. Pappy

  • Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Tipper looks like a toothbrush mg mother use to make theese but for the life of me I can not remember the type tree she would break the limb from I want to say sweetgum.

  • Reply
    Shannon Vetter
    August 28, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Looks like a “toothbrush”- my great grandmother always had one on hand.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 28, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Looks like a birch twig tooth brush

  • Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 7:44 am

    sugar cane, I love sugar cane to chew on,

  • Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 7:30 am

    Well it’s purely a guess, but it looks like a stalk of sugarcane!!!!

  • Reply
    penn ashe
    August 28, 2011 at 5:13 am

    Looks like a beerch stick to either chew on for the flavor or to clean your teeth maybe?

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    August 28, 2011 at 5:13 am

    hmmmm…..a willow twig??

  • Leave a Reply