Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cornbread and Milk by Gordon H. Soles

Once again I found a great little gem hiding among the stacks in our local library, a book called Cornbread and Milk by Gordon H. Soles

I’ve always enjoyed stories of life on a farm from the olden days and Cornbread and Milk really delivers a taste of what country life was like for a young boy growing up in Kansas during (I’m guessing, the early part of the 20th century. The author mentions threshers, farm machinery and a pickup truck, but never mentions a radio.)

To be honest, the first chapter didn’t really grab my interest, but I am glad I didn’t give up on the book.  The second chapter was better and I enjoyed the remaining chapters. Each chapter is a new, little, stand-alone story much like you would find in a vintage magazine. Each story has it’s main characters, and each story is neatly tied up in the end. Each story contains just the right balance of humor, sadness, and drama.  They sometimes even brought tears to my eyes.

As I was reading the book, I couldn’t help but to picture the Walton family from the 1970s TV show.  In Corn Bread and Milk, the grandparents lived with the family and the grandmother in the story reminded me so much of Grandma Walton from the show.  Then, in the book, there was Elmer Vessler, who one night had a little too much moonshine to drink at the barn dance, and stumbled into the cow pen. I pictured him as Yancy Tucker. And our author reminded me time and time again of John Boy.

Soles would write,

“Winter around our farm usually was a fairly quiet time….I guess we all liked it best because we got to be more of a family then. Pa wasn’t off in a field somewhere and Maw wasn’t too busy with canning and tending to her chickens to be sociable.”
I could picture John Boy writing a paragraph similar to this while sitting at his bedroom desk.

Soles includes everything from his grandmother’s fear of cottonmouth snakes, to his little brothers fascinating hobby of collecting things to keep in his tobacco tins (including rabbit droppings). There are stories about barn dances, milk cows, outhouses, and even tornados. There were stories that made me cry, such as the one about the old dog that gets hit by a car and survives for a few days. The old tom cat comforts the dog during these days and brings him gifts of mice and rabbits. Proving that there is no such thing as a dumb animal.   

There was one paragraph in particular that I enjoyed very much and that was the one about family gatherings. It reminded me so much of family gatherings at my Grandmother’s house when I was younger.

“Us kids would begin to get excited weeks ahead of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Fourth of July because we knew we’d get to see and play with our cousins--not to mention getting to eat all the good things the aunts would fix up in the way of food.
Like at most farm gatherings, first the table would groan from the load of food and then the folks would groan because they had eaten so much. Somehow the womenfolks always fixed enough so there was a lot of food left over. Instead of dividing up whatever was left like they did at community affairs, the womenfolks would leave the food out for all-afternoon nibbling. Seemed like every time you looked around there was someone chewing on a chicken wing or chomping at a sliver of cake.”

Yeah, I totally remember my Grandma Lillian’s house being like that.  I can remember nibbling food all evening long, a turkey sandwich here, a spoonful or two of jello salad there.

Cornbread and Milk is a great little book to curl up and read on a cold, snowy evening.
It's certainly on my wish list.

That's all for today. Until another time, enjoy some time with a good book and have a vintage loving day!

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