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Recollections of a Blacksmith: Clear White Syrup and a 'Sensible' Drunk

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In Foxfire 9, to come out next year as the last volume in the series that has been published by Doubleday Inc., an article giving the step-by-step instructions for building a traditional farm wagon contains the following reminiscences of the builder, Jud Nelson, a blacksmith in Sugar Valley, Ga.

I was used to this ol' homemade syrup, you know, but Daddy come in [one time] with a bucket of that clear maple syrup. I never had seen none of that. I had a biscuit [with some of that syrup] at meal time. And that just bugged me to death. I just couldn't get that out of my mind. I slipped in the house--there wasn't nobody in there--and I looked for them big ol' leftover biscuits, big ol' cat heads, you know. I decided I'd look around and see if I could find that syrup. By golly, there was a saucer full of it already poured out there and that was real handy. I was lookin' over my shoulder, just like somebody stealing something, you know, and I busted that ol' biscuit open and I sopped it around [in that saucer] and I sopped it good. I got nearly every bit that was in that saucer and I crammed it in. Had to get this done and get away from there, or get in trouble. (They didn't allow the kids running in and getting into stuff. You was gonna have what was left from dinner for supper.) I guess I had done swallowed a whole lot of it before I realized what was a'going on. One of my sisters had loaded up that saucer with castor oil. It looked just like that white syrup. I never did find out which one it was and that's the reason she's still living. I ain't found out yet.

Years and years ago, in them Prohibition days, the Federal Court in Rome [Ga.] picked jury men from seven, eight or ten counties. [One of the jury men they picked was an old man who] went to Canton down in Rome there to serve on the jury. He drove a horse and buggy down there. He had a good friend down there at Rome. That old man liked to drink in the evenings. The friend knew where they could get them a drink.

You've heard the sensible answers a drunk man gives? This old boy sitting over at the table [had] his head a'laying on the table. He was done sot. Some man and his wife had separated and everybody was discussing what they'd do if she was a woman of theirs. Said the drunk raised up and said, "It's a strange thing to me that everybody knows what to do with a mean woman but the man that's got her." And "plunk" back down went his head. Said that's all he said [laughter]. Said that's the sensibless answer that he had ever heard a drunk say! He never said another dang word. That's all he said.

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