View from Hickory Heights: Picnic season begins

Picnics took on various purposes through the years. Sometimes we had picnics when the men were working. That meant that either my sister-in-law and her family traveled or we did. In those days we ran two farms together. When the men worked at the lower farm, the picnic was there. When they worked on the upper farm that is where we had our picnics.

Of course, whoever happened to be working with them that day had a picnic with us. The neighbor’s children were often helpers. Boy could those kids eat. They were good to feed because they ate everything and never complained.

They sat by the table and visited after we ate. Even after dessert they often finished the relish tray. In those days both families had gardens. We had a lot of fresh vegetables.

Then, there were picnics that took place when we were out and about picking fruit. We went to several orchards to pick. One, in particular, had a big pond. We brought our lunch and ate by that pond. The children liked to “fish” so grandma fixed up a fishing pole with a safety pin as a hook. The children would catch fish after fish then throw them back.

After our picnic was done, we usually filled the cooler with the fruit that we were picking. Grandpa insisted that no container was left empty. Filling the cooler presented a problem because we could not weigh it before we began. They had to estimate its weight when we checked out. They also pitted the sour cherries so we had that done as well.

Sometimes we just went for a ride and took a picnic. That usually happened if we were going someplace. One year we went to the Chautauqua County Fair. We ate at The Point then went to the fair. We have pictures to remember this. This happened before Dick and I were married. I remember having my niece with us. Someone congratulated us on our cute little girl.

Another year we went to the Crawford County Fair. There are pictures of us eating our lunch in the parking lot. I think we had both children by then.

Grandma’s birthday was the first part of July. We usually had a picnic for her birthday. Usually, my sister-in-law made her a cake. If we celebrated after chores we could relax. If it was for supper the men had to depart to do the chores.

There was always a Sunday School picnic at the Gouldtown Church. The men played horseshoes after dinner. The women sat around and visited or helped with the children’s games. Before everyone left for home, we enjoyed Walker’s ice cream. The upper farm sent their milk to Walker’s Dairy.

One year I had the opportunity to visit the Walker family. I remember they had all their memorabilia spread out on their dining room table to show us. I came home with a ruler, a glass, and some bottle caps. My husband was thrilled. In later years the lower farm was accepted to send milk there as well.

Sometimes I took a picnic lunch to the men and we ate in the field. Finding a shady spot was a problem. When we ate at the Larson farm there was plenty of shade. If we went to the tree line, we could also find shade. The children really liked our picnics in the field. They were allowed to play near where their dad was working.

When we went up on our hill to pick blackberries, we always took our lunch. We picked for a while then took time to eat. By then the children were tired of picking. I continued to pick while they played making offices in the trees. When we came home my job was just beginning. I had to take care of those berries. Usually, I made a fresh berry pie as well as canning some.

When we picked strawberries, we came home and sugared some of them, then made waffles to eat with them. They tasted so good. Where we picked strawberries is now a housing development.

As you can tell picnics were a staple in our lives. Our own children have continued to have picnics with their families. Often, we were just in the pasture with a fire pit, but it was fun. One year we had a picnic by my son’s pond. My granddaughter was old enough that she wanted to learn how to fillet a fish. Her uncle showed her and we enjoyed fresh fish from their pond.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell. Contact her at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.


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