Winter Memories

Wanda Stalcup Cherokee Co Historical Museum

Recently Wanda Stalcup, Director of the Cherokee County Historical Museum, talked with me about her memories of winter months spent as a child. Three yearly occurrences stood out to her as she looked back through the years.

grade school valentines

The first:

Her family’s primary cash crop was tobacco. Wanda recalled payment for the previous summer’s crop generally came around Christmas time. The money was used to pay off lines of credit at local stores, paying tithes to church, and having the fields turned and readied for spring planting. To be able to “clear the ledgers” brought a welcome relief to her family.


The second:

Wanda’s first grade teacher, Mrs. Axely helped make Valentines Day special for the entire school. Mrs. Axely was a beloved fixture of the school and her birthday fell on Valentines Day.

In those days most children couldn’t afford to purchase Valentines or even buy supplies to make them. Mrs. Axely provided materials for the children to make Valentines. Some years she helped them make a “mail box” to place the cards in-on the special day Mrs. Axely would hand out the Valentines one by one. The children were left to choose who got a Valentine and who didn’t. Wanda recalls the popular kids got the most (guess some things never change), but each child treasured the Valentines they received. Wanda remembers taking hers out all through the year and marveling over the lovely creations.

ground hog day


The third:

Ground Hog Day! Her family anxiously awaited the Ground Hog’s appearance and his revelation about spring. The results could bring hopes for a warm moist spring to help the plants get a head start or the drudgery and work of getting more firewood to make it till a late spring.

The Blind Pig family uses the late winter months for crafting, painting, cooking, reading, and planning our garden for the coming summer. What do use them for?


Portions of this post were originally published here on the Blind Pig in January of 2009.


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  • Reply
    January 1, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    I try to hold off on reading the seed catalogs til late Winter; it’s my Secret Weapon against getting dragged down by weather. Seems like I ought to do more knitting in the Winter than other times of year, but not sure if that’s true…I need good light to see the stitches these days, so I do a lot of knitting in the longer days of Summer. Hmmm. Maybe I ought to invest in a good strong lamp? 😉

  • Reply
    December 31, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    I generally use mine catching up on work around the house, quilting and crocheting blankets for babies that have been born through the previous year or who are coming the next if I have time. I got behind in the blanket making when we moved to the smaller house, cause there’s just not room to leave a project up and around while working on it, still – I’ll find a way because these blankets for babies are important to me. I can picture them being wrapped in them as children and wrapping their legs in them when they grow old – or at least I hope they’ll last and be treasured for that long.
    The lacy valentine in this reminded me of the lacy paper “snowflakes” we made for dressing up windows in the wintertime and the lacy paper “valentines” we made for them in February. They were so easy to do, yet so pretty – and seeming to be a real accomplishment of pride when one was a young child.
    Did you ever make those?
    God bless.

  • Reply
    December 30, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I enjoyed Ethelene’s post today,
    reminding me of similar times when
    growing up. Late fall and Winter
    are my favorite seasons…Ken

  • Reply
    December 30, 2014 at 10:40 am

    I loved this post, and loved all the posts telling what each does in those long winter months before warm weather. I am ashamed to say I used to hate winter, as it always seemed to linger longer on our mountain. Now I look back to remember the beautiful snow arch made by trees covered with snow leaning over the road as I walked to the bus stop. I can recall so vividly the men stomping in with snow covered boots.
    My sister and I coached a friend into donning a bathing suit with us to take pictures outside in a deep snow. We preened and posed in front of an old shed. To this day those pictures are treasured.
    I now love winter and every special day I have. This is a time when no gardening, mowing, and no gift wrapping. I check things off of my bucket list. I enjoy mundane things like reading that book I’ve had or painting some ceilings. Like many of your readers I enjoy the seed books, and I treasure talking gardening with friends. Not many gardening friends left, as many people in my life only plant a few flowers. The best part is getting visits from grandchildren on school break. Winter has become a very special time!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Since I get the privilege of being in a warmer climate for the end of Winter, I usually enjoy the beauty of the budding trees and flowers blooming. I always await my return to the foothills to enjoy the revival of mother nature. I do spend my retired time reading and working on my craft projects.

  • Reply
    Barbara Gantt
    December 30, 2014 at 9:14 am

    My husband is out today getting wood for next winter. He is cutting and splitting newly felled trees. The green wood will get stacked to dry. I enjoy the time near the wood stove to just enjoy winter. This year, we don’t have any snow on the ground. That is very unusual for us. Barbara

  • Reply
    Barb Wright
    December 30, 2014 at 8:10 am

    We do alot the same as you. We do make plans for making maple syrup and as Wanda stated,cut more wood if needed! I seem to do alot of cleaning this time of year,too. Early spring cleaning?

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    December 30, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Although snows seemed to come more frequently to our mountain area “back then” than now, snow could cause some hardships in taking care of farm animals, having enough wood at the woodpile ready to bring in to burn in fireplaces and heaters to keep the house warm. Back then there was the delightful “snow cream” made with freshly-fallen snow mixed with some sugar, milk and vanilla: our winter “ice cream” treat. One day it quickly came a snow blizzard when my little brother Bluford was a first-grader and I was in fifth grade. My father came to Choestoe School house to get us. He carried Bluford but told me to “step in his steps” as we walked the snow-laden mile to our home where a roaring fire in the fireplace soon warmed us. We also used winter time to piece quilt tops and ladies would gather to have a “quilting bee” to finish the beautifully crafted quilt top in its cotton stuffing and solid-cloth lining. Winter Memories are sweet. We survived!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 30, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Tiper–Grandpa Joe had a real knack for putting things in perspective, and for him the late winter months (especially February), involved multiple things:
    *What he called “dreamin’ and schemin'” (thinking about fishing trips come spring)
    *Dealing with “the miseries” (arthritis)
    *Storytelling (my blog for January features tow of the tales I liked best)
    *Like you, planning the garden
    *Placing an order for biddies (baby chickens) at the Farmers Federation
    *Reading the signs to see what spring would be likes.
    There was more, much more, but oddly enough I recall his activities as much as mine.
    One thought along the reading line–I devour about five books a week, on average, so that’s certainly part of the season for me. Also, anyone who loves the outdoors needs to read the greatest book ever written by an American on hunting and fishing,Robert Ruark’s s”The Old Man and the Boy.” In it they’ll find a story, “Everybody Took Sick But Me,” which is about this time of year, a flu epidemic, and how he got to hunt to his heart’s content.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 30, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Tipper, I think that’s the time of year that I read the most. I always make a dent in the pile of books I have in the corner in a big basket. It’s also a time for reflection. I like to ponder and the late months of winter when the earth is still is a wonderful time to ponder all the things I have stored up in my brain.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 30, 2014 at 7:13 am

    I am always ready for Spring after Christmas. However, it is a long haul until Spring, March 20th. It does seem like winter, although only 9 or so days past December 21st, has been a long one already! Maybe because we had such a cold pre-Thanksgiving November cold spell.
    I got my first seed catalog. Sow True seeds. I am thinking of new seeds to try out this year, after reading the new catalog. Usually seed catalogs start arriving in January, Sow True seeds came early! Beautiful catalog by the way!
    I miss our wood stove, fireplace, etc. We don’t miss carrying in wood or cutting and stacking for winter.
    We usually attend the children’s basketball games on weekends. Other than those outings, we watch the Lady Vols basketball games as well as the men’s games that are televised. The college football bowls, the super bowl etc. I might start a crochet project, draw or paint, read etc. Keep the chili and stew fixing’s at hand. Just in case we can’t get off our hill if we should have a blizzard or an icy snow!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…I say let’s take a long winters nap and just zzzzzzzzzz thru these winter months.

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