As Roy and I sat by our fireplace in our keeping room this morning, drinking our final cup of coffee after breakfast, I told him I was so homesick for my grandmother’s house. It is a house long ago torn down and dismantled, but still so fresh in my mind’s eye. I have no idea why I am so sentimental and emotional, but for some reason I am somewhat weepy as I remember the times so long ago.
The old house sat up on a hill from the red clay road and then at the end of a long-rutted driveway. It was made of gray clapboards, bleached by the sun’s rays with a long inviting porch running the full width of the old house. The porch held two rocking chairs, a bench, and a straight-backed chair that my granddaddy sat in, reared backwards against the wall. It seemed he was always whittling from a small piece of black gum wood.
The old house had no kind of modern heating, just a big open fireplace in the “front room.” There was wood piled high next to the hearth, and it was fed into the brick opening that my granddaddy built. He was a brick mason by trade and had built many chimneys and fireplaces in the little community. As I ventured into the dining room, which was a step down into the rest of the house, I quickly missed the warmth from the rolling fire.
The only heat for the rest of the house radiated from the old Sears Roebuck cast iron wood-burning stove in her kitchen. There was a little box of thin, short wood logs that she would let me feed in through the little door on the side. It spread heat to the six big flat burners on top of the old stove. It was a miracle of heat and heated the kitchen, dining room, the little room behind her kitchen, her quilt room, and her larder of fruits and vegetables and roots from the summer harvest.
I remind myself of my grandmother, Ms. Ednie, in my stature, and something around my eyes and nose certainly looks like a Key. I learned so many things from this little woman during my growing up years spent there in that old clapboard house.
My grandmother was an excellent cook. One thing she made I still try to make — ham bone soup. But mine never quite tastes like hers.
My grandaddy had a smoke house and he always had a few hams ‘curing’ inside. After cooking one my grandmother would always make this soup.
Ham Bone Soup
1 left over ham bone with little bits of ham
1 diced onion
1 cup of diced carrots
2 red chopped potatoes
3 cups pinto beans
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups diced ham
Mix all ingredients and cook on simmer all day or put in a crock pot for eight hours on low.