Appalachia Appalachian Dialect Pap

Pine Rosin

Tipper Chatter and Chitter
Chatter, Tipper, and Chitter 

Over the years I’ve learned to be wary when one of the girls run up to me holding out her hand telling me to look and see what she found. One time it was a handful of hairless baby mice another it was the entrails of a recently butchered deer.

Pine rosin in appalachia

So a few weeks ago when Chitter held out her hand and said “You’ll never believe what I found-here touch it.” I said “Gross get that away from me…well what is it?” Chitter said “Good grief it’s only pine rosin. I’ve just never seen a glob this big before have you?”

After I realized the glob wasn’t alive nor an animal by-product I took the pine rosin and inhaled deeply. I was immediately taken back to the two towering pine trees that stood above Granny and Pap’s house when I was little girl. Their soft shady needled padded roots were my favorite place to play.

I never managed to come away from my play house under the pines without at least one sticky place on my clothes or fingers from the pine rosin that dripped down the massive trunks.

Pap told me folks used to chew pine rosin in place of chewing gum. I said “Was it good?” He said “Well it was good only if you didn’t have anything else, but no I wouldn’t ever turn down a piece of juicy fruit in favor of it.”

Appalachian writer John Parris wrote a piece about his Grandfather chewing pine rosin-here’s a quote from it.

“The Old Man paused. A smile played about the corners of his mouth. There was a twinkle in his eyes. The kind of a twinkle that belongs to a little boy, but rare in the eyes of a 98-year-old.

“Law me, what I wouldn’t give to go gummin’ and get a wad of pine chewin’ gum,” he said. “Best tastin’ stuff in the world. But I don’t reckeon I could do much good at chewin’ resin gum with store-bought teeth. They wasn’t made for it. And pine resin gum is might tough.

But when I was a boy, I chewed a lot. That I did. Most everybody chewed gum then. Same as they do now. Only it wasn’t like the chewin’ gum you buy. The kind we had was better than any storebought chewin’ gum that was ever manufactured.

“Oh, the times we boys had goin’ gummin’. It were a frolic. That it was. A springtime frolic. Spring was the only time you could go gummin’.”

A lot of prepper and foraging type websites list additional uses for pine rosin. I’ve never chewed it or used it for anything else, but I can sure see how it might make a dandy glue!

I asked Chitter what she was going to do with her pine rosin she said she wasn’t quite sure but she’d think of something.


*Source: My Mountains My People by John Parris.

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  • Reply
    November 26, 2018 at 5:33 am

    Never seen such a lump of pine rosin. Yep, a lot of good uses for it, from help, starting a fire, then melting it on the fire then you can stop a leak in a roof, but I’m not into chewing it, your teeth would have to look like Ernest T Bass, afterward.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    October 9, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Don’t forget “rosin potatoes”. Heat a bucket of Rodin over a campfire drop in potatoes and when they rise to top they are done. Set aside pot of rosin till next outing

  • Reply
    Melinda Rowe Kessler
    November 9, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    ethylene’s comments about Washington reminded me of Aunt Mildred’s story:
    When she was a young homemaker in a small town the women got carried away admiring their White Laundry on the line each Monday morning. They began trying to outdo each other by getting Theirs out earlier than the neighbor ladies. After a few weeks of getting up earlier & earlier she just pulled out last week’s clean sheets from the drawer & hustled them out to hang; Earlier than All the neighbors!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2016 at 9:39 am

    We call it pitch, but the stickiness is the same!
    Sorry to hear about fires. When it’s been so dry, fires sure are a huge worry.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    November 8, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Wow! I have never seen a hunk of pine rosin that big. I was watching The Boonies, a tv show on the National Geographic channel last night, and the guy smacked his head climbing through a hole to get onto the roof of his tree house to mount some solar panels. He got down quickly, mopped up the bleeding with a cloth, then got a piece of pine rosin from a pine tree that was up through the middle of the tree house, squished it between his fingers to loosen it up a it and dabbed it on the wound. He said it was a natural styptic and antiseptic, and it did seem to stop his bleeding. Interesting!!! I never knew that. Did you?
    Prayers everyone’s having a wonderful week, and a safe one too.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan (Jan)
    November 8, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    Enjoy that the girls know their environment and bring things to the house. It is so wonderful to enjoy the children before they are completely grown and gone. What fun your family seems to have. I never found such a big hunk of rosin, and I was around a lot of rosin, mainly sticking to me somewhere. Jan

  • Reply
    November 8, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    Looks like three Beautiful sisters to me! A lot of my Jackpines and Spruce or Hemlocks are dead, but the White Pines are doing fine. And a Frazier Fur I planted years ago after enjoying it for a Christmas Tree is now over 40 feet tall and looking beautiful.
    Today at the voting house, (I never vote early) I talked to a Mashburn boy and he told me they had caught two of them fire-starters. Apparantly, they had took tars (as Richard Petty calls ’em) and filled them with gas, set it on fire and rolled them down the steep mountains. After I voted today I couldn’t see over 200 feet in front of me, on my way to the shop. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 8, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Well now I reckon I know a little something about rosin (pronounced rawzŭm where I come frum) being as I spent much of my young life in the woods. That stuff seems to have an affinity for me. It’s like ticks, I just have to get it the vicinity to get it on me. I believe that stuff can jump.
    Pine rawzŭm is right up there next to baccer sap in stickiness. The best way to get it off your hands is to pick up a handful of dirt and rub it into the offending spot. If you are lucky the stickiness will transfer to the dirt to some degree before you rub your skin off. Failing that, it just has to wear off.
    I have never tried pine rawsŭm as chew gum (that’s what the old folks called it.) Seems like that would be like using Pine Sol in place of Scope.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 8, 2016 at 9:56 am

    I chewed a piece of pine rosin one time. It gave me the same effect of that twist of tobacco my friend snitched from her granny and dared me to try! I’m going to tell you after that, I thought her granny must have an iron stomach, besides the fact that she was a woman with chaws of twisted tobacco leaves. I was swimmy headed for hours and sick to my stomach. My Dad said he chewed pine rosin when he was a kid.
    Personally, the gum from the old days remind me, not of pine rosin exactly, but the flavors of Clove, Teaberry, Blackjack and yes even Doublemint (I didn’t care for it) gum! ha That jingle gets stuck in your head; Double your pleasure, double your fun. Chew Doublemint, Doublemint, Doublemint gum! Then there were the pictures of the twin girls opening a pack while sitting on their bikes.
    Guess you are too young to remember the Doublemint twins. The Pressley Girls would have made beautiful actors for the Doublemint commercials!
    Now a days, when I see and smell pine rosin I want to bring out the oil paints and canvas. I guess it is the remembrance of turpentine that was used to thin oil paint and clean brushes. The last I bought was odorless and turpentine free thinner. I wanted some real turpentine a while back and the better half had a hard time finding it except in large containers.
    I used to hunt for pieces of Amber when in an area of old growth pine trees. I had a friend that used to tell me when he went out West he constantly found Amber (fossilized resin) of extinct pine trees or old growth trees! I’ve found plenty of bugs stuck in the pine rosin that was dripping down the trees before we had our pines cut, but this wasn’t amber. Ha Just sticky stinky rosin. I can’t believe I once chewed a piece of the stuff on a dare! ha
    Have your girls ever found Amber? They make jewelry out of pieces today.
    Thanks For the Memory Tipper,
    PS…We can barely breathe because of the smoky conditions here. Terrible! Just staying in today!

  • Reply
    November 8, 2016 at 9:53 am

    My wife was always terrified when our daughter said, “Mom, look what I found.” When we lived in AZ every time I moved a piece of furniture I found dead dried up lizards that she brought in the house and let them escape.
    You like to think of little girls as dainty and frilly but left to their own curiosity and creativeness they’re just like the boys. (Especially when Dad is their hero.)

  • Reply
    November 8, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Before retiring, my husband was a logger and I spent a lot of time trying to get pine rosin out of his work clothes. It sure is sticky!!!! I never knew you could chew it! I just know sawdust will stick to it. What a sweet picture you posted of your girls and you.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    November 8, 2016 at 9:12 am

    I can’t remember chewing pine rosin when I was a child, but I certainly played under pine trees, and used it as “play food” in the broken pieces of dishes we used as our “plates” in our playhouse. And I’m sure we got pine rosin on our clothes, too, probably a pain for our mother to try to remove the rosin from our clothes when she washed in great tubs of water and “biled” the clothes–that was supposed to get them cleaner–in the iron wash pot with a fire under it. At my maternal Grandpa Francis Jasper “Bud” Collins’s place, we got our chewing gum at his country store. Also, when my mother and her sisters wanted to do the “weekly wash” together, and use the huge, huge wash pot where my grandpa had built a rock platform for it to sit on, with an opening to put the wood underneath to make the water hot, they “washed” together in the huge tubs of water, rinsed in other tubs of clean water, with the white clothes going through the “bluing” tub to make them extra-white. Oh! How proud they were of their white wash hanging on those wire clotheslines. Every good housewife took pride in how neatly and how clean were the washed sheets and clothing, hanging neatly on the lines and blowing in the breeze.
    And, speaking further of pine rosin, in July, 2014, after our family reunion, I was absolutely amazed when I went by “open house” for my Grandmother and Grandfather’s house–which had belonged to Bluford Elisha “Bud” Dyer III and Sarah Evaline Souther Dyer (my father’s parents). There they had reared their large family of 15 born to them–all but one of which grew to adulthood. The present owner of the house, who has left part of it intact for us to see, and part of which he has “added to” as one of his current dwellings, invited us to step to the l-shaped porch on the back of the house. There, exposed in a certain place on the porch, were the wall logs, dating back to 1850 when the house was built by John Combs Hayes “Jack” Souther, my Grandmother Sarah’s father (one of my great grandfathers). There, in 2014 one hot summer day in July, after our huge family reunion held at Choestoe Church in that community, we saw the logs in the old 1850 house oozing resin. We thought it was some sort of joke by Mr. Duckworth, present owner, But he assured us not. He told us that the resin was for real, still present and on warm days still, from those ancient logs, sawed, trimmed and used to build the house over 175 years ago, still had rosin in them that oozed out on warm days! He had discovered the rosin active when he removed some cover boards over the logs and found the spectacle! I can assure you that on that day, seeing that rosin, I felt very close to my Great Grandfather John Combs Hayes Souther!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    November 8, 2016 at 9:12 am

    My mom told me she had chewed pine rosin when she was a kid so naturally I had to give it try too. I couldn’t see how anyone could like it. But once you’ve had Juicy Fruit gum I guess that kind of ruins you. My dad always had a pack of gum in his shirt pocket and always one of the Wrigley brands. When one goes gumming now they need to go no further than the checkout line at the grocery store.

  • Reply
    Eleanor Loos
    November 8, 2016 at 8:55 am

    What a lovely picture, Tipper. You and your beautiful girls standing by your side look like triplets!. Eleanor L., Columbia Station, OH

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 8, 2016 at 8:52 am

    I remember chewing pine rosin when I was a kid. We called it pine though.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 8, 2016 at 8:48 am

    My Grandma would collect pine ‘rosin’ ( we didn’t say ‘resin’ either) to make salve. I’m sorry to say I never learned all the ingredients but I can say it really, really worked. The salve was part and parcel of the idea of the treatment of worms with spoonfuls of turpentine and sugar. Pine rosin is also an excellent fire starter in wet woods. A little tin of rosin is a handy item in the camping gear.
    The first bear sign I ever saw was related to pine rosin. It was on the TN-NC border in upper east Tennessee. A bear had scratched a pine and the fresh rosin oozing out had caught some of its hair.
    I would venture to guess the pines you played under were white pine. They are especially prone to have rosin drips. Their rosin-frosted cones are also premium fire starters.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    November 8, 2016 at 8:33 am

    In addition to pine rosin, we also chewed sweet gum rosin. It all messed your teeth up.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 8, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Wow, that is a big chunk of rosin. I’ve never chewed rosin, looks like it would stick to your teeth.
    What did you do when they handed you the baby hairless mice? I’m not known to be a squealer but I’m thinkin’ a handful of hairless baby mice might do it!
    Chitter will probably find a way to turn that into a piece of art.
    I love the picture of you and the girls!

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