TABLE GOODIE OR TRAIN WRECK
By Norris Chambers
first wind-up phonograph in 1926. There were several kinds of players
then but ours was one of the latest models featuring the new standard
speed of the turntable, 78 revolutions per minute. There was a song on
side of the disc and a speed control knob for the turntable. The small
speed control also changed the pitch and allowed musicians to adjust
recorded musical key exactly with the one they were playing. Any sort of recording was a novelty in those
days. We enjoyed the phonograph for several years and managed to buy
collection included most of the old favorite songs of the pioneers,
Brown Jug, Golden Slippers, Yankee Doodle,
of one of these old songs was Ben Dewberry’s Last Ride. When I
first saw the
record I hadn’t heard of the train wreck and I wondered how a man
could be involved in a last ride with dewberries. Even at our young
As we gained a little age we began to understand where dewberries came from. They grew wild in several areas of the pasture and as winter came on the nice, juicy berries began to ripen and sweeten and it was time for berry harvest to begin. The berries resembled blackberries in size and color but most folks thought they had a better flavor. Although the berries were free the harvesters usually paid a price in torn skin and snake-watching tension. The fruit grew on patches of tangled vines and the leaves and stems were covered with little thorns and stilettos that seemed to seek out the hands and arms. If we were still barefoot from the summer we were likely to get some painful agitation around the top of the feet and the ankles. It was necessary to be on constant watch for rattlesnakes, moccasins and other dangerous snakes. I don’t know if the snakes ate berries, liked the smell or just thought it was a good place to be, but something about the dewberry vines seemed to attract them.
When our buckets were full we returned to the smokehouse area and the berries were thoroughly cleaned. This was a tiresome and time consuming operation but was necessary because every kind of small, unwanted insect or particle of trash seemed to bed down between the small crevices that covered the outside of the berry. The next step was to eat a big bowl of berries mixed with fresh cream and sugar. Dewberry jam on a hot buttered biscuit was a real treat. After that we had berry cobbler for a day or so the remaining goodies were properly canned for later use. We usually gathered berries three or four times in order to preserve enough for the ensuing year.
We had a long row of blackberries in our garden section and they were used in a similar manner. Most of the old timers preferred dewberries because of their superior flavor. The blackberries were easier to gather. The vines were larger and stronger and in many ways resembled bushes. Most of the berries could be gathered from a full standing position and the thorns were larger and easier to avoid. They did not collect as much small trash and were easier to clean. They were eaten in the same manner as dewberries.
fun in harvesting dewberries? As usual,