Christmas in East Texas
Mary Lasswell wrote:
"Hound dogs and blowing horns. Blackeyed peas and hog jowl. Sausage with a flavor unrivaled, red-pepper-hot, solid pork-meat with some substance. Grits floating in fresh butter or redeye gavy. Hot biscuits and and mayhaw jelly. A pokey mule turning a syrup mill. The land where "The King and I" means nothing but an old-time gospel hymn. Gray silvered shacks with bitter oranges and chinaberry trees near them, the yard a bleached sweep of hard-packed earth, an iron washpot turned over near a round white spot on the ground where the suds from strong yellow lye-soap wash water has been emptied for years. The broomstick used to punch the clothes down, boiled to the color and smoothness of old ivory. Grove's Chill Tonic and Slaughterine for Pains. Chrisper's Hot Shot Nerve Sedative.
The country where a midwife is a "granny woe-man"; one a 92-year old black woman with slender steely fingers who was said to have delivered a live baby from a dead mother. "White doctor say she daid, so I don't say she ain't." Signs saying "Wheels spoked." The stomping ground of a blind, toothless guitar player: "Play me some blues," "I don't play no sinful songs, lady." His gigantic wife, Billie, emerging from out back hollerin' "An' me lookin' like Who'd -a-Thunk-It!" Razorback hogs and hickory nuts. Light bread and sweet milk. English walnuts and Irish potatoes, and firecrackers at Christmas. The smell of fresh-made lye hominy and the lacquered cypress beams of a smokehouse. A hint of frost in the air, and the sweet mouth of a coon dog when he trees."
----- Mary Lasswell, "I'll Take Texas," 1958
Beauty is only skin deep but Texas is to the bone.