Framing and Farming:
Recently I sent a newsletter to my customers telling them about my plans for our 40th anniversary (which you can read below). The response from my valued clients was tremendous as well as from those who saw our post on Facebook. So I decided to continue writing about framing and farming… framing because picture framing is what I do best. And farming because I grew up on a farm in North Georgia and decided now was a good time to “set” some stories down for my grown children to know and remember.
Sometimes the blog will be more about framing, and others it may be about growing up on the farm, or cooking, or random thoughts, or perhaps quilting. I may even ask my sister, the retired English teacher, to write a word or two. All these interests tie into the person I am, and I hope the stories will evoke a memory or two for you. After all, Yesterday and Today Frame Shop has been framing yesterday's memories and today’s treasures since 1974. Our present day life intertwines with the past. This blog is another way, besides framing memories, to stitch it all together.
|Posted by Sherry Gray on April 26, 2014 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
A couple of weeks ago I posted a picture of the field hands who helped us work the collards grown and trucked to the Atlanta Farmers Market. Although the work was hard, we all had such a great time together and every one pitched in to get the job done without whining! And many a practical joke was played on each other. But I think the hardest job fell to my mother, who cooked a bounty to feed us at 1 pm, just about every day during the summer and fall. When I hear some foodie talk about “farm to table” as if he or she invented the phrase, I get so irritated. If that foodie had lived and worked on Seldom Rest Farm, and been fed dinner by my mother, they truly would know what farm to table really means.
Naturally, home grown pork or chicken was the protein on the menu, and usually both since Mama knew the preferences of all of us. Sometimes we had beef but it was not usual for us to have much beef. We did occasionally have mutton, as daddy experimented with growing sheep one season, and it certainly was not a favorite of many at the table. Meal preparation began the evening before when Mama went to the garden and picked a peck bucket full of green beans, and then came in to string and break the beans to cook the next day. During different seasons, she also brought in squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, field peas of various kinds, corn, okra, strawberries, wild blackberries, grapes, blueberries, apples, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnip and mustard greens, lettuce. You name it, we probably grew it at one time or another.
We had our own farmer’s market right there close to the house and didn’t appreciate it nearly as much as we should have.
Mama would, of course, arise and make breakfast which always, always included homemade biscuits. And eggs. And homemade jelly. Maybe bacon, fat back or homemade sausage. Usually gravy. Then after hand washing the dishes she would start on getting dinner ready for the workers. And spend all morning washing, peeling, cooking. And fixing dessert, cornbread and biscuits. And after we were all fat and sassy from such a big meal, while the field hands “rested” Mama got to wash the dishes by hand until many years later when she had a dishwasher. And don’t forget during such an abundant growing season, there were jars to fill and can. I’m not sure when she had time to do that! Or to make homemade butter which I can still taste to this day. Thanks to my folks, I lived the farm to table mantra we hear so much about today. Pictured is Daddy helping the market guys offload the collards.
|Posted by Sherry Gray on April 12, 2014 at 9:30 AM||comments (0)|
Not only did my parents stress the importance of education to their children. They lived it in the community and with the kids who worked for them. In my younger years, besides being hog producers, Mama and Daddy grew bell pepper. At harvest it was taken to a local Campbell’s Soup co-op. I remember getting to go to the dinner and meeting held each fall after the crop was in. At each table would be cans of soup and I always wanted the clam chowder but usually wound up sitting at a table that had cans of vegetable soup, which did not thrill me in the least. Mama’s soup was better than theirs!
In my teen years, collards replaced the bell pepper. At harvest, the collards were cut, tied with string and as they were loaded onto the truck for transport were hosed down with cold water from a local branch or creek. Driving to the Atlanta Farmer’s Market did not begin until late afternoon. Off-loading happened at night when it was cooler and the wholesale market was in full swing. Collards required more help because it was labor intensive and more acres were raised, so kids from the Ivy Log community were hired to help. But those kids could only work if they stayed in school – that was the rule and none of them tried to get around it. When Daddy passed away each of those kids came to the funeral home and specifically told us what working on Seldom Rest Farm had meant to them and to their future because they finished high school. As an aside… I never tasted collards until twenty years later.
Below is a picture taken on June 15, 1976 of most of our family and the kids who worked with us. We were all congregated at Poteete’s Grocery in the Ivy Log community. Daddy and I were waiting for our ride to Alaska and the others had come to see us off. My sister and her husband were on their way, driving the camper and pulling a Jeep, to us from west of Blairsville and eventually drove up for us to begin our three month journey. I remember how impatient I was to get on the big road and see sights I had never seen before.
|Posted by Sherry Gray on April 5, 2014 at 11:55 AM||comments (0)|
At the first part of this week I worked on a rather larger architect rendering of the new Morinaga candy factory. Morinaga is Japan’s largest candy company and will soon begin construction on a US facility close to the Orange/Alamance county line. Orange County officials courted the candy company which is expected to begin production in 2015.
All this talk about candy led me to stare again at the tin collection I have framed and hanging in the saw room. There is no glass on the piece, and I have just used silicone to stick the tins to a mat, which I then framed. If you look closely, you might see dust! And the whole piece brings a lot of memories to mind… there’s an empty tin of Bag Balm. I used a lot of that stuff when I was a basket maker in a previous life. And Rosebud Salve. I never see that without thinking of my grandmother Rozillie Chambers because she loved the stuff almost as much as my daughter. And the baking powder and mustard tins remind me of family mealtimes. And a couple of candy tins bring to mind “goobers”.
We grew the majority of the food we ate in our house. Besides having a huge garden, we lived on a hog farm and had plenty of pork. Granny and Grandaddy Gray raised broilers and we processed the leftovers for the freezer, and once in a while Daddy had a steer butchered for the freezer. Besides buying flour, salt, pepper, sugar, lightbread and mayonnaise we just didn’t go to the store much. But when Mama or Daddy traveled to The Line to buy cigarettes, it was a good bet that a bagful of goobers would come home with them. The Line store was right inside the Georgia/North Carolina line and they sold the best chocolate covered peanuts you ever ate. I’ve bought some at various places over the years and none were as good as those!
|Posted by Sherry Gray on March 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM||comments (0)|
This week we have framed much art generated by three children, in just about every way imaginable. Some were just framed with no mat, some already had construction paper mats which we left on, some were double matted. The trick to making a children’s gallery is not to make everything have the same mat/frame combination. Because children’s art is mostly vibrant pieces, I used a lot of vibrant metal frames called Vivids. Children seem drawn to these brightly colored frames just like they were drawn to bright colors when making their art. Let’s hope these babies are always drawn to the bright colors of life.
Speaking of babies, after I was grown and had moved to North Carolina (and had babies of my own), we drove down to Blairsville to attend a family reunion with Daddy. Before we got to the reunion, I told Daddy not to introduce me as the Baby (which I was called more often than not by the family since I was the youngest). And he didn’t. When Daddy introduced me the first time to someone I didn’t know, he said, “And this is Sherry. She’s the oldest.” I immediately stated I was not the oldest, I was the Baby. And Baby I stayed! Below is a picture of the Baby!
|Posted by Sherry Gray on March 22, 2014 at 10:15 AM||comments (0)|
I hope you noticed the new masthead we are sporting these days. 2014 is the 40th anniversary of Yesterday and Today Frame Shop. Even after forty years, the shop is still thriving and I thank each and every customer for being a part of that. During the last months I have thought of and discarded many different ways to celebrate such a milestone, but kept coming back to the one that meant the most to me. Before I tell you what it is, I’d like to tell you a story. After all, stories are such a huge part of the items we frame…
My parents had only an eighth grade education but only wanted better things for their children. Even though we grew up and worked on a farm, excelling at school was the main job of the children. And reading, at least for the three girls, was a favorite pastime. In fact, my Mother loved to read so much that she got on the bookmobile with us in the summertime! And Daddy loved his magazines. Money was scarce but the girls all received a college education, and my brother had the opportunity to go but chose not to. Sacrifices of which I am unaware were made to pay tuition and to provide the means for me to be a successful business owner.
I run Yesterday and Today Frame Shop as I run my life, with honesty and integrity. Those qualities were instilled in me by Mama and Daddy (and often by the two older sisters as well). Both parents and a dear sister, Nancy, have passed away in the last decade. Remaining members of the family set up the Gray Family Scholarship Fund to help lower income students receive their GED. It was an unfulfilled dream of my Mother’s that she receive her GED.
Rather than have a gala event I have decided to send a donation to the Scholarship Fund to honor my customers and the family members who worked hard to give me the opportunity to serve you.