Did You Ever Do Any Of These Things?

Today’s guest post was written by Ed Ammons.

Did You Ever in Appalachia

Did Granny ever wash out paper milk cartons and use them to freeze stuff in.

Did Pap ever bring home a whole chub of bologna and call it a cord? Selecto Imitation Bologna. Came from over in Knoxville. Don’t know why they called it imitation, it was better that the “real” kind. A big old half inch slice of it and a big chunk welfare cheese bummed from the neighbors and a handful of sody crackers would make a meal fit for a king.

Did you ever roast punkin seeds?

Did you ever put boxwood leaves on top of a hot stove and watch them puff up then start spinning?

Did you ever climb up a tree then ride it over to the ground?

Did you ever make a kite using broom sage and newspaper?

Did you ever make your science project out of dynamite wire and Prince Albert cans?

Did you ever build an igloo in the yard that stood up for a week?

Did you ever hit two flint rocks together at night and see sparks?


I could only answer yes to four of Ed’s questions. How about you?


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  • Reply
    kathy patterson
    March 6, 2022 at 3:18 pm

    My grandma had us to wash out and bring our milk cartons from school so she could plant her tomato seeds in them . She saved the wax paper out of Grandpa’ All Brand Cereal to use later. We didn’t have flint here in the Blue Ridge but we would sneak around and beat white rocks with the hammer to get the to split apart. (Mommy always got made when we did that, she was afraid we would put an eye out so we got sneaky) We sold the boxwood tips for Christmas decoration. When we would go camping we put laurel leaves on the fire to listen to the pop. (rhododendron)
    We rode saplings down and rode them like a horse and use lard bucket to try to catch minnows in the branch. My mother as a little girl with her two sisters smoked up all the rabbit tobacco on the farm so we didn’t have any to try. WE would chew mahogany switches (Black Birch).

  • Reply
    May 23, 2020 at 8:02 pm

    My father helped us make newspaper box kites. Not a milk carton but a Quaker Oats box. My mother filled it with grits, let it congeal in the refrigerator, slice a round of it and fry in butter.

  • Reply
    May 26, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    I climb a tree and road ot down and hit 2 fli ts together

  • Reply
    May 19, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    Well let me think , 🙂 Didn’t freeze things in milk cartons, but did make planters out of them, and Easter baskets at school among a few other uses… Do roast pumpkin seeds love to eat em, I sometimes buy already to eat though. I’m not sure how much a ”chub ” of bologna is , never heard that term, we usually bought it sliced ,fried it in a skillet, and then … bread , mayo, cheese ,home grown tomatoes ,mustard lettuce, yum this is a delight 🙂 …My Granny on the other hand bought ”Ring” bologna,( is that the same thing as a chub?) and ate it with crackers.. not sure about” imitation” bologna … I thought I was eating the real thing.. haha. Probably did hit rocks together to see sparks, may not have been flint rocks …. our granddaddy did have a good knife sharpening flint rock worn down in the middle from much use. I used a small handheld magnifying glass and a nice midday sun to try to set a leaf on fire. Climbed a many a tree ,but didn’t ride it over to the ground… did swing on vines over the creeks.Hope everyone is having a lovely late afternoon so nice after the rain.

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan
    May 19, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    Yes to several. Remember riding saplings well. Made many of the the things mentioned in the comments, but no telegraph. There is still a little country store in Hanging Limb, TN., not far from Monterey, TN. where one can get cord bologna sandwiches with mayo. Best bologna sandwich yet! Loved government cheese too- people would fight to get it when I was young. Still go to my old hangouts now and then in TN. to really live.

  • Reply
    Donna W
    May 18, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    My mom used milk cartons for freezing garden stuff. The only two I can claim as my own are riding a tree down, which I did often, and built an igloo that lasted a long time… I was grown, and helped my kids do it.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    May 18, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    The only one I really remember was the bologna and cheese one, and it was not exactly the same. My grandmother owned a small country store when I was growing up and she always had a large, long, round hunk of bologna and she sliced off how much the customer wanted. There was also bulk cheese and an opened loaf of bunny bread in case somebody just wanted a sandwich. I had many delicious, thick-sliced bologna and cheese sandwiches at her store, along with an ice-cold bottled coke from her cooler. That cooler was filled with icy water and the drinks set down in the water until you wanted one. When you lifted your drink out that icy water ran down your arm. It was pleasant on a hot summer day.

    While I never built an igloo, I remember when I would take water to the chickens in the winter, I would carry it in a bucket and leave it there. They did not drink all of it before it froze so when I came back down with another bucket I would empty the frozen water into the yard and put the fresh water down. If the temperature didn’t warm a little, before long it looked like a giant had spilled his drink with all its ice cubes in my yard.

    It’s funny how someone else’s memory can spark a related memory in your own mind.

    I really enjoyed Ed’s and Ethelene’s memories.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    May 18, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    Tipper I loved everyone comments done most of them too. I was a big tomboy of Marble and where we mostly played called old Piney Oh how I wish I could go back on day to play . I wrote a song Oh I ‘d loved to Go Back To Old Piney and play ,but it was filed in thirteen(can’t find it)

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 18, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    The science project was a telegraph. The Prince Albert cans were cut into pieces to make the switches and the clickers. The dynamite wires were wrapped around nails to make an electromagnet. When the switches were closed the nails magnetized and pulled the Prince Albert can clicker down against it and made an audible click. The clicker was in a T shape and had two “magnets” to attract the arms of the T.
    The “dynamite wire and Prince Albert cans” is a little misleading. There was also a couple of pieces of wood, a few nails and tacks and a flashlight battery.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    I didn’t roast pumpkin seeds until my girls were in school and we did it after I carved the jack o lantern. We made snowmen, but no igloos. We used to look for four leaf clover. I grew up in the suburbs, but we had plenty of ways to entertain our selves. Our girls did too. I feel sorry for today’s kids. They’re always in some kind of organized activity. No free time to be kids.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2019 at 9:32 am

    The only time I ever saw a milk carton was at school lunch and that wasn’t very often. My sisters and I took our milk and cornbread to school in a reusable container. We never made a kite and not sure I ever saw one until I was living in the big city. Mountains surrounded our house on all sides and we never got a breeze strong enough to lift a kite. I used Prince Albert cans for curling my hair, possibly after they were used for a science project. Mom saved everything and we found a use for it. Thread spools make great bubble blowers if we were lucky enough to sneak some soap. My first telephone was made with oatmeal containers and mom’s thread. The sound was good if the other party was located close by. A doll was much more entertaining if future softball players removed the head and found the perfect bat out in the hills. Just goes to show why we never heard the words bored or depressed back in those days.

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    May 18, 2019 at 8:46 am

    Yes… milk cartons, riding a tree to the ground, striking flints at night, building a long-standing igloo… no chub bologna- just the regular kind and government cheese.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 18, 2019 at 8:15 am

    2 of 9 but with a “maybe” on the milk cartons. Btw, I cannot understand why my Grandma did not roast pumpkin seeds. She didn’t waste anything.

    I did have experiences with dynamite wire. Dad worked on the reconstruction of US 27 and brought home gobs of it. My brother and I burned the plastic covering off and by and by Dad took the copper to the salvage place where they bought copper by the pound.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    May 18, 2019 at 7:39 am

    Built an igloo, loved sparking flint rocks, rode over trees, never roasted punkin seeds but my mother-in-law did, never called a roll of boloney a cord but Grandparents did, and Dad froze fish in milk cartons. Never heard of the science project but we did take a baking powder can and put carbide in it with a little water. Made gum slangs using dogwood forks, red inner tube, and tongue from worn out shoe. Made rock throwers from corn stalks. Made arrow heads from horse shoe nails. Made jimmy dancers from wood thread spools and a stick. That is what we called spinners or tops. Man I’m telling you children are missing out today. I wish I could stay around and think of some more but I have to leave.

    • Reply
      Ron Stephens
      May 18, 2019 at 8:21 am

      AW, did you make a cannon out of the carbide can? Dad would punch a hole in the bottom, put a few grains of carbide in then a little water then push the lid on. After the gas built up he would light it at the touch hole in the bottom. Made a nice boom and the lid went flying.

      From your post about the Big South Fork you must have grown up near where I did. I am from McCreary County but have been gone nearly 40 years.

      • Reply
        aw griff
        May 18, 2019 at 4:47 pm

        Ron, that is the same way we made the cannon.
        I grew up in Elliot and Boyd counties I read about the big south fork and ordered the topo maps of the area. After studying them and finding ways to get to the river, Dad, Dad’s close friend, my brother, and myself took 1 john boat and a canoe down the mountain on homemade carts. The fishing was good and it is a beautiful rugged place as you well know. I think we made 4 trips altogether.

    • Reply
      Mary Lou McKillip
      May 18, 2019 at 2:08 pm

      Tipper these questions brought back memories of being such a tomboy by climbing up saplings and ride it to the ground my nephew stayed on the ground to get hold of the sapling and finish pulling it to the ground well about the time he got hold of the tree top another little friend came upon the s spot and Fred forgot and turned loose of the sampling before He tied a rock to it and whoa I went sailing in the wind just to hang on was a big task for a very small gal . I thought I was a gone -er

  • Reply
    Ethelene D. Jones
    May 18, 2019 at 7:11 am

    Since I can’t remember the “Imitation Bologna” available in Blairsville, Union County, grocery stores when I was growing up, I will say no to that bologna–never tasted it, to my knowledge. But we did get bolonga, cheese, “light bread” and sody (soda) crackers at our stores. And yes, I have had bologna and cheese sandwiches. But mostly, we even made our own bread, and my mother could make wonderful loaves of “yeast” bead. Such a wonderful smell emanated from the kitchen some afternoons when Buford, my younger brother, walked the mile-plus from Choestoe School (a two-teacher excellent country school) in our neighborhood. My older brother, Eugene, and my older sister, Louise, were older than Bluford and I, and they were already in high school, riding the school bus, catching it at the “Morris Ford” over the Notla River and on the highway from us. But Choestoe School was the greatest. I can remember boys in the upper grades at my school bending over a sapling as Mr. Ammons describes. We had big snows in the wintertime, and we made snowmen that lasted long after the ground snow had melted, but we didn’t think, I guess, to make an igloo. I wish I had been that creative. Now let me ask you one: Did your daddy ever make you a “french harp” somehow out of two or three pieces of wood put together in the right way, with the center piece being “cut out” somewhat like the real “french harp.” We kids were fascinated with his real French Harp–and his Accordion, which he played, and we always were pestering him to “make music” for us, or else let us play on the instruments. So he made us our own French Harps! I’m not sure they really made music, but we hummed and blew, pretending we were making music as our Daddy did!
    One thing you can say about Appalachian Folks: They were creative, inventive, and hard-working–and extremely family oriented. We worked a “big” farm for a mountain farm, had all we needed and to sell ‘way down at the Gainesville Farmers” Market, and later to the Atlanta Farmers’ Market. My Daddy was the sorghum syrup maker for Choestoe farmers (and others, farther away), making bout 3,000 gallons ever fall from “Blue Ribbon” sorghum cane. We had large patches of cane on our farm, and much of our income came from the sale of this syrup. It was at least a six-week span in the fall, making syrup from our own cane, and that of others who hauled theirs in. Form many years Daddy powered his mill to grind the cane into juice with two sets of mules going round-and-round to turn the iron grinding rollers that juiced the cane. He would not work mules more than 4 hours at a time it was such grueling work for them. We had a cousin who lived with us during the weeks of syrup making. He was crippled from an accident to one leg, but he could sit on that stool and push the cane through those steel grinders. And at night, after the mill finally closed down, my younger brother Buford and I knew we would hear one of Cecil Alexander’s “travel tales” with which he delighted us. And, after my mother died when I was age 14, my father went before the school Board to get “hardship case” excusal for me to work at home during the six weeks of syrup making. I did my lessons, because another dear cousin teacher at the high school brought my assignments in weekly batches by my house, and collected my homework, tests, projects and the like to take for my teachers to grade. I got counted present because I was officially excused, and did my work at home. When it came time for graduation in 1947, I had been chosen the “summa cum laude,” graduate–except in high school we didn’t use that term I had learned in Latin classes. But I was thrilled to make a commencement address, even though I had missed six crucial weeks every fall because of doing my part in cooking for 15 or more work hands and providing them a “southern farm” style home-cooked meal. None of them ever complained to the cook; they ate what I served them and thanked me afterward. And this is the story of “what I did” part of the time while I was growing up.
    I think that life was good for me. I missed my mother terribly, and wanted so often to ask her how to do something or seek her advice about a situation. But through it all, I learned to be self-sufficient and to accept whatever work came my way and seek to do it to the best of my ability. All you readers, have a wonderful week.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 18, 2019 at 7:10 am

    Yes, to the milk carton, yes to punkin seeds, yes to riding tree limbs, and yes to flint rocks. My dad helped me make a kite from newspaper and some kind of wood.
    Interesting how many other old memories came to me as I was making this list.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    May 18, 2019 at 6:47 am

    We didn’t have milk cartons. The milk went from the cow to the bucket and to a glass Mason jar after the cream had been taken off for churning.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2019 at 6:43 am

    4 outa 9 myself. And those 4 bring back memories, like climbing a tree to have it bend over, had a Buddy of mine climb one a little too big at the base, he was way up in the tree and it finally bent over but he was still a good ways off the ground when it stop bending, he hung there for the minute and had to let go, needless to say, he had a hard landing. I got a good laugh out of that one, he had that deer in the headlight look just before letting go. After that, he was a little more particular about what tree to climb.

  • Reply
    Rick Shepherd
    May 18, 2019 at 6:40 am

    Well, I got one or two….But they all sound pretty good to me….I was raised on the Ohio River in southwest Indiana…..We did a lot of fishing and hunting growing up and Mom was a great cook as long as us boys cleaned all our fish and meat first….Haha

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 18, 2019 at 6:16 am

    My childhood was severly lacking, no to all

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