Appalachia Pap

Pap Liked to Hang Things in Trees

hanging things in trees

Like many folks from his generation, Pap held on to things other folks would throw away in case he needed them later. He kept most of his stash in the basement, but sometimes he put things where they were handy like in the trunk of his car or hanging in a tree at the edge of the yard.

If you’ve been a Blind Pig reader for a long time you’ve probably noticed on occasion I use a photo of a strange looking object hanging in a tree. Last week the photo was the top of an old water filter that Pap had hung up in a tree below Granny’s house. I’m sure Pap changed his out and then decided he better keep the old one in case somebody needed the parts off it.

Looking for things Pap hung around the place is sort of like a scavenger hunt, you never know what you’ll find.

The day I discovered the water filter The Deer Hunter was cutting the limbs out of a tree that was growing to close to Granny’s porch. These days I don’t have any call to go into that part of Granny’s yard on a regular basis, but as I cleaned up the branches I decided I’d throw some of them off that bank and that’s when I noticed the filter hanging in the tree. Silly I know but it was almost like Pap was saying “Tipper I’m glad you all are helping Granny since I’m not here to do it. You’re doing good girl.”


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  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    June 1, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    I remember you picturing the rusty can Pap used to sprinkle a little dust on his plants that he put in the tree…I love this post. My parents saved so much. It was there inborn trait I think. As well as growing up during the rough tight days of the depression. It was something that Appalachian folks just do. We are a smart lot. Creative ways to use things others might toss. From buttons to old clothes and fabric scraps, became another garment or quilt for warmth. After we moved to the city, Dad found a jar with little slivers of soap in it. Yes, Mom had been saving them to make or use for liquid soap…He called her out and told her she didn’t need to save scrap soap anymore we were out of the mountains and the depression was over…Well, she just hid her little jar of soap slivers and put water in the jar and used it to when she hand washed her dainties…LOL It was just a habit she couldn’t break she said…I love this soft soap and if you grew up making and using lye soap you will save every bit of this wonderful sweet smelling soap scraps and use it up…Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!
    Thanks Tipper,
    You are a good daughter…

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    May 31, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    Putting in trees is new to me but it sounds like a plan; get them up off the ground out the mud and rust and out of sight. Pap was a wise man for sure..
    My Granny was a “i might need this” kind of person so their attics were always a treasure hunt.
    They recycled and didn’t know it. I have a pic of the house they lived in ‘in the cove’ when my Mother was born and I love looking at the lard and coffee cans sitting around the porch with plants in them..
    I’m a lot like Granny and need to just close my eyes and start dumping drawers. I keep paper records forever b/c ‘I might need them’. Just throw something away and see how fast you need it. If I scan into computer I keep the paper anyway, … case I need it.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 31, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    You all will laugh at this. But that’s OK. One time our church was having a yard sale and we took some stuff. Soon as we got there, I started looking through a box of books. I found two or three that appealed to me and bought them. Turned out they were ours and my wife had donated them. I laughed at myself in one way but was actually tickled I found each of ‘our’ books still appealing; even if I forgot to suspect were they came from.

    • Reply
      May 31, 2018 at 2:17 pm

      🙂 Ron that is so funny!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 31, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    Tipper–Momma and Daddy were adults during the Depression and both grew up in impoverished circumstances. Momma was frugal but Daddy was a flat-out packrat who would have done Jerry proud. He pulled nails from scrap lumber, pallets, and the like and straightened them for re-use. No screw, nut, bolt, or mechanical part escaped his eye and most were saved. He had row upon row or “stuff” in the basement, much of it in quart canning jars, and he built a shed where a great deal of other “stuff” was stored. He could repair or re-rig about anything, and never mind the fact that Br’er Don has two degrees in engineering and holds some patents, I’ll guarantee that he would say that when it came to practical, down-to-earth engineering of the “figure it out” sort, Daddy had him beat by a mile.

    When he passed there was a three-room basement stuffed with, well, stuff. I took some, Don kept some, Don’s oldest boy (who has a lot of his grandfather in him) took some, and bet Don still had to make a dozen trips to the dump. Daddy simply couldn’t abide to throw anything away, and I’m not at all sure that he and Pap weren’t a lot smarter than our overly consumptive, wasteful ways of today.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Dee Parks
    May 31, 2018 at 11:40 am

    Tipper, you are not silly at all! My parents came through the depression and grew up not having money. They knew how to fix and make do what ever the need. Your post was precious!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    May 31, 2018 at 11:30 am

    I’m a Pack-rat too, when Escod terminated the Robbinsville plant, they ask me if I wanted some small Cabinets to put things in. I took my truck over there and I was surprised to find nearly every one had some stuff in it. That’s been over 25 years and I’m still using out of those things. Someone who worked at A.C. I. C. never thought about all the what-nots and specialties they had. If a person came to my shop looking for something, chances are I can give it to them, because that
    stuff was given to me. Before ESCOD Industries diversified and went overseas, I had a good Run and had a lot of Yankees friends from Rochester, N.Y. The General Manager liked me, and really liked to hear me talk. His name was Bob Planchak. …Ken

  • Reply
    May 31, 2018 at 11:26 am

    Love that sharing, and the reasoning of the doing of Pap …. and so enjoy that you can do what is wise in your learning and in what you’ve yet to learn at your own little ”castle” as my sweetie calls it, and you can tweek it anytime as you go…. We have an old house with two doors in the front, with a porch and a swing ,and a creek nearby…we have lots of ” keep that’s” we might use it later stashes… and some I’ve used , gave away, or threw away.., :), some my ”sweetie ” rescued out of the throw away,:):) …but the preciousness of being together, , and all the times we have been…. that’s special…. even when our ”do daddy” passed on and our ”MeMama ” suddenly was alone…. she gathered us all around her at times,and it was so good to come :), another thing that was neat was to enjoy the things that the hands of those that lived here before us had done…. like the blooms of a peony plant that another Mama planted , still fragrant and enjoyed.

  • Reply
    May 31, 2018 at 10:23 am

    This is something I experienced most of my life. Dad had a basement where everything was organized. Row after row of unidentifiable objects filled that basement. All his equipment was old and well maintained using his stash. Mom loved collectibles, and we still have boxes of dishes I can identify as milk glass, carnival glass, depression, Red Ruby even something called Amberina. I have distributed among her grandchildren, but have refrained from selling the rest even though I don’t care for vintage glassware.

    Unfortunately, I hate to throw anything away also, especially if I find a stray piece of plastic or a screw. I always think maybe it came off of something? There seems to be some kind of unwritten rule that as soon as you discard anything you will need one right away. How ironic , I spent an hour on the phone yesterday trying to order a charger for the lawn mower battery. Then today you mentioned Pap saving things for use later. Yep, threw it away thinking it was for an old outdated game grandson had. Waste not want not!

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    May 31, 2018 at 10:21 am

    I love this! Yes, you are doing good girl.❤️

  • Reply
    May 31, 2018 at 9:08 am

    I am like Pap. If I finish with something or find something that won’t fit in my pocket, I will stick it up on a limb or the top of a fence post or somewhere visible. I have every intention of going back to retrieve it but sometimes other things get in the way and I don’t make it back.
    I can see about $5.00 worth of fittings in the picture and assume there is similar ones on the other side. That’s $10.00 worth of “junk”. Now if that was a 10 dollar bill stuck up there anybody would grab it but nobody wants to dirty their hands on a hunk of junk.
    One time I stood in the parking lot at work and watched a guy look through his pocket change, pick out the pennies and throw them out across the lot. Did he offer them to me? Noooooooooooooooooo! I asked him why he did it. “They’re not worth anything!” I thought “What fools you mortals be!” and went and picked up all I could find of them.

  • Reply
    May 31, 2018 at 9:05 am

    Mom saved everything! She was from Pap’s generation where they had lived through hard times and learned to be very frugal. She said it made her sad to see young folks throw good stuff away.

  • Reply
    Betty "JO" Eason Benedict
    May 31, 2018 at 8:49 am

    Not silly at all!!! I have heard of and recently had an encounter with a Cardinal, which led me to do more research. I will always think or maybe just want to think, for a number of reasons, that it was from my Dad. Are there any Appalachian stories about this?

    • Reply
      B. Ruth
      June 1, 2018 at 9:27 pm

      Betty “JO” Eason Benedict…
      I am answering this before reading your link…Yes, “When Cardinals appear, angels are near!” Heard this little saying for years. When my son was in comfort care/palliative care his last days in the hospital. He had many Cardinals frequent the windows about his head. The nurses told us they would see them but never on the shrub by the windows or so many. My son told me, “Mom, I will come visit you after I’m gone to heaven…maybe I’ll be like a Cardinal. After it was all over and a few weeks had passed, a Cardinal chirped his attention getting sound so loud that it shook me to my toes…right at the feeder on the kitchen window sill…I went over, tears falling, and just asked if it was him…the cardinal cocked his head and looked me right in the eye chirped another couple of times before he flew to the tree limb…still looking at me…I had seen many Cardinals at my feeders, but never experienced anything like this in my life…He visits constantly…brings more with him and I still think positively that it was him or his guardian angel letting me know he was home and doing fine…

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 31, 2018 at 8:48 am

    I’m with Pap. Just sounds like country living to me. Instead of thinking it is strange to save bits and bobs, it ought to be thought strange to throw away so much. At least I think so. It is so frustrating that things are not made to be fixed. I think I have posted this before, but I think being wasteful usually means ingratitude. And the whole idea of saving is for “somebody”, not just the saver, to get use out of it.

    Think of “American Pickers”. They’ll be talking to one of those saving kinds of folks and will mention something particular. And the saver will say, “I think I have one of those here somewhere.” And they will soon find it if it has been waiting 20 years.

  • Reply
    May 31, 2018 at 8:39 am

    I don’t think my brother threw anything away, either, but he lived out in the country. He did plumbing work on the side, and many of these folks lived out in the country, so he couldn’t go to a nearby store if he needed something.

  • Reply
    May 31, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Keepin’, storin’, scavengin’, fixin’, restorin’, re-usin’, re-purposin’, re-cyclin’ – – all sound perfectly normal – – and wise and thrifty – -to me.
    Just be organized about it so you can find “it” again and won’t trip over it – – don’t be a “stuffer”!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 31, 2018 at 7:09 am

    Tip, I know that Pap is with you and often sends you messages. It’s hard for me to realize that he is gone, his so present to me, as if we could have a conversation.
    He was such a fine man, his goodness is ever present!
    I’m gonna start looking for things in the trees next time I’m at Granny’s.

  • Reply
    May 31, 2018 at 6:51 am

    That doesn’t sound silly to me, Tipper.

  • Reply
    May 31, 2018 at 6:46 am

    I’m bad to hang on to stuff, just in case, but probable never use it, but on occasion it does come in handy, take after my Dad on that respect, he was always fixen stuff, some call a tinkerer, but he always kept the dryer going or the truck/car going, I was suppose to be a welder by trade but ended up in the electrical field so I keep all kinds of metal just in case and I worked maintenance in the Substation Crew for about 12yrs so fixen and keeping parts needs to be in your blood, to do that kinda work.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    May 31, 2018 at 6:23 am

    Pap sounds like my Granddad, Nick Byers. He never threw anything away…….I inherited that trait. I have a “throwin’ away “about every 5 years.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 31, 2018 at 6:18 am

    We lived in a house in the middle of nowhere for many years, we were constantly finding things in trees. Once a pipe someone had stuck in the branches. It had stayed there so long the tree grew around it.

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