Christmas in the 1940s
There was not much in the way of “stuff” in the Ingle home about mile and half to Union Mill. Oliver had built the house with trees on his land, and the four rooms were small. The outhouse was nearby. A narrow porch ran across the front, and a stoop was off the back. A tin roof made sleeping easy during a rain. Heating was from an open fireplace in both bedrooms and the living room. Water was originally from a nearby spring, and then from the well that Oliver dug after his father located the water source with a divining rod.
One cow named Daisy furnished milk for the family. She was milked both morning and evening, so there was always plenty of churned butter and milk to drink. A wooden ice box kept all fresh. There were two hogs and about eight chickens that provided both eggs and fried drum sticks. Lois planted a vegetable garden every year and canned all she could for the winter.
There was always food on the table and a safe place for their four boys.
John’s mother, Lois, always made a coconut cake at Christmas, because Oliver loved coconut. The Dixie Home store in the stock yard down town carried seasonal coconuts. Crushed pineapple in between the layers added an extra sweetness to each slice.
My husband John was born in 1941, and his parents, Oliver and Lois Ingle, both worked in cotton mills in Union, South Carolina. His family opened their gifts on Christmas Eve. In their mesh stockings were oranges, tangerines, English walnuts, and sometimes a Snickers.
On their land, the four boys scouted around for a cedar tree for Christmas; it had to be a cedar tree. Two weeks before December 25, the boys cut down their chosen tree, and Oliver made a wooden cross to attach it to.
Then the family fun began, as they all helped decorate the tree. They made popcorn garlands, red chinaberry ropes from the tree in the back yard, and linked paper garlands made at school. The glass ornaments were brought out each year. Mom finished the tree by putting on the metal, silver icicles. Lastly, she placed a new quilt that she had finished under the tree to cover up the stand. With the four boys pushing for being first at putting on the different decorations, Poppa played referee, while sipping on his cup of 8 O’clock coffee, bought at the A&P. In between, he played Christmas carols on the dobro he had crafted.
During World War II, Oliver made the boys’ gifts.
One year, John received a bicycle that Poppa found as a throw-away. His dad reinforced the bars with water pipes and bought tires and tubes at the local Western Auto. The rusted red bicycle, with no fenders, never had a new paint job, but John rode it everywhere. As he says even today, “It was a good bicycle.”
The Grand Ole’ Opry made a Christmas stop in Union, and the Ingle family looked forward to their concerts. This event was held at the downtown stockyard with its dirt floor, no seats, and a big stage. The town showed up in force for these performances to hear Minnie Pearl and Rod Brasfield in a comedy duo, as well as the Duke of Paducah, and singers Ma and Pa Carter, Kitty Wells, and David “Stringbean” Akeman. Children ran around loose, as the adults enjoyed the country music so close to their hearts.
John’s papa Oliver enjoyed playing his dobro. He took apart his guitar to make the dobro, adding the resonator that he put together out of tin pie pans. One of his favorite carols was Carol of the Bells. He had worked out the sound of the bells, and the notes were clear and sharp each time he struck the four-note motif.
Listening to this popular carol today takes John back to the memories of a life without many extras, but one full of love for God and family.
Enjoy this version by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=11&v=k-W2Bkz_Rno
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
Her published books, Courageous Kate, Fearless Martha, Brave Elizabeth, and Walking with Eliza focus on the bravery of Patriot women living in Revolutionary War South Carolina. Tales of a Cosmic Possum, not only shares Ingle family history, but also South Carolina and cotton mill history.
Serving on the board for eight years of Children’s Security Blanket (a 501c3 organization that serves families that have children with cancer), she is the Board Chairman. She is also a member of Chapter D PEO, where she served as vice president and chaplain; Circle 555(a local women’s giving group), where she has served on the grant committee; and a board member of Spartanburg County Historical Association, serving on the Walnut Grove Committee.
In her church, First Baptist Spartanburg, she was a Sunday School teacher for the youth for fourteen years, served as a discipleship leader for girls, and as chaperone for retreats. Besides leading a women’s Bible study for twenty-seven years, she has substituted as an adult teacher. For five years, she led the women’s ministry of her church.
Married for thirty-eight years to John Ingle, they have one son, Scott. Besides being avid readers, the South Carolina beaches are their favorite spots for vacations.
You can connect with www.sheilaingle.com.
Sheila Ingle’s husband John was brought up in Ingle Holler in Union, South Carolina, with eight other Ingle families. They worked together in the mills, shared their gardens, attended church, and enjoyed the playing and singing of the songs from the Grand Ole Opry. When five of the brothers went off to war, those who couldn’t fight took care of their families. The Ingles stuck together, just like they were taught in the Appalachian hills of Erwin, Tennessee.
Love of God, love of family, and love of country were modeled in each home. In fact, one year Make Ingle put his sons and grandsons together to build Hillside Baptist Church. Adults kept up with the newspapers and the radios; world happenings were important. Any type of sickness brought a barrage of soup and cornbread, because children still had to eat.
On those twenty acres, the children played in the creek, cowboys and Indians, and hide-and-seek. They built their own wagons and sleds to race down the hill on the dry, hickory leaves. All the boys learned to shoot a .22 caliber, and John’s mother Lois could light a match with her shots.
Thank you, Sheila, for this fun Christmas post! Sheila has agreed to give away one copy of Tales of a Cosmic Possum. Winner will be drawn Wednesday, December 12, 2018, at 1 PM EST.
THE FINE PRINT: CONTEST VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. ONLY US RESIDENTS WILL BE ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE A PAPERBACK COPY. EACH COMMENTER IS ASSIGNED A NUMBER AND THE WINNER IS DRAWN USING RANDOM.ORG. WINNERS WILL HAVE TWO WEEKS FROM THE DATE OF THE DRAWING TO CLAIM THEIR PRIZE.