Partial Transcript: This is Luther Mason being interviewed by Zack Lewton on February 9th, 1992 for the Kentucky Family Farms Oral History Project.
Segment Synopsis: Luther Mason shares about his and his family's background in farming. He discusses his thoughts about differences in past and modern schooling. He explains the use of livestock such as horses to aid in farming when he was a child.
Keywords: Chemicals; Children; Farm ownership; Horses; Livestock; Military service; Mules; Pesticides; Schools; Segregated schools; Sharecropping; Wagons
Subjects: African American families; African American farmers; African Americans--Education; Segregation--United States
Partial Transcript: But, uh, you have to keep up with the change, and the change have come. And, uh, we have to try to make--uh, get more material off an acre of ground than we did in the past.
Segment Synopsis: Mason discusses changes in a variety of farming technologies that he noticed over his many years as a farmer. He describes types of automatic machines that have been used in farming, as well as different pesticides.
Keywords: Chemicals; Chores; Crops; Farmhands; Farming equipment; Herbicides; Insecticides; Livestock; Milking; Minority farmers; Paris Green; Pesticides; Sharecroppers; Small farms; Tinder house; Tobacco; Tractors; Wood stoves
Subjects: African American farmers; African Americans--Agriculture; Technology
Partial Transcript: Just try to, ju, ju, just try to relax, remember--like do you remember anything your father said to you about when he was growing up, what it was like?
Segment Synopsis: Mason reflects on life lessons his father taught him as a child.
Keywords: Church; Folklore; Moral lessons; Parenting; Savings; Values; Wives' tales
Subjects: African American farmers; African American parents; African Americans--Economic conditions
Partial Transcript: Well did your family go to church when you were little?
Segment Synopsis: Mason discusses community and rural churches in his area. He describes the differences between modern and past churches. He recalls his mother's role on the farm and how she helped run the household.
Keywords: Baptist; Canning; Children; Chores; Church leadership; Church officers; Community; Cooking; Crops; Gardens; Gender roles; Modern changes; Mothers; Outdoor bathrooms; Rural churches; Schools; Vegetables; Women's role; Wood stoves
Subjects: African American Christians; African American churches; African American families; African Americans--Social life and customs
Map Coordinates: 38.209722, -84.56
Partial Transcript: What did you do about a doctor back when you were little?
Segment Synopsis: Mason explains the way people in rural communities received medical care from doctors who made house calls. He describes childbirth during this time period and how women helped each other until the doctor could arrive to their home. Mason shares his experiences with Southern States farming cooperative in Scott County, Kentucky.
Keywords: 'Co-ops'; Community; Cooperatives; Discounts; Employees; Farm hands; Farmers; Feed mills; Hospitals; House calls; Labor; Midwives; Pregnancy; Rural doctors; Southern States; Women
Subjects: African Americans--Agriculture; African Americans--Economic conditions; African Americans--Health and hygiene
Partial Transcript: We, ha--uh, back in, uh, the old, early days they had a veterinary that come to the farm. And which they do some now.
Segment Synopsis: Mason recalls changes he has noticed in veterinary medicine and farmers' care for livestock. He describes the advancement of veterinary technology such as vaccinations, and Cesarean sections for cattle.
Keywords: Animal health; Animal vaccinations; Birth; Breeds; C-sections; Calf; Cattle; Cesarean sections; Farmers; Illness; Livestock; Technology; Veterinary
Subjects: African American farmers; African Americans--Agriculture; Veterinary medicine
Partial Transcript: Was it hard to pay for, like, a veterinarian to come out? How did--how was that handled?
Segment Synopsis: Mason describes how small farmers would pay for bills with credit and large payments year round when harvests were sold. He discusses the loss of small country stores that were replaced with larger chain grocery stores.
Keywords: A and P; Bills; Community stores; Credit; Farming; Food; Goods; Groceries; Insurance; Kroger; Money; Needs; Savings; Selling; Supplies; Tabs; Trade
Subjects: African Americans--Agriculture; Rural African Americans
Partial Transcript: Well do you have anything to say about that? Just about the decline of the community.
Segment Synopsis: Mason highlights further changes that are occurring in his community and his thoughts about these changes. He concludes by describing his
Saturday outings with family.
Keywords: Basket meetings; Church; Communication; Communities; Family; Fellowship; Friendship; Technology; Trips
Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Social conditions
LEWTON: This is Luther Mason being interviewed by Zack Lewton onFebruary 9, 1992 for the Kentucky Family Farms Oral History Project. Okay, so if you would, just remember back to when you're--as far back--
MASON: As far back--well I remember back to when I wasborn here in Scott County in the late--early--late twenties, early thirties so I'll tell my age in a minute. (laughs) But I was born here on, on a little farm. My father--was a sharecropper at that time. And after a few years, after I was born, he bought a little farm. And he was renting at first on someone's farm. Then he bought a little farm and continued being a sharecropper. Which I was saying before, only about three miles from here. Local. And I growed up just like any other little farm boy, as you might say. Had two brothers--sister--and 00:01:00we played and did everything that a normal family would do. Then after awhile he started--he was sharecropping and we, being at home with him, did some chores. And I come up in the time of horse days. Before tractors was--knowing too much about--especially small farmers. In this part of Kentucky. And we used horses. And mules. Mules are supposed to have been a better animal to cultivate than horses because they was kind of of quiet. Sometimes you get a, a horse. They get wild and you also get--they didn't take care of theirself like did mules though. But it was a good day--days that you had to follow plow with a mule. Had to harrow the ground. Hoe it and everything. So we--and I think in the early part of '50, I reckon, no later part of '40, my father was 00:02:00sharecropping and I done got out of school then and I was cropping with him and we got our first tractor. Which was a Farm-all, three--two wheels in front and--a tricycle tractor. Had a ----------(??). But the year before we got a tractor, I was talking about farming, we was farming heavy and we had to have several horses. And I think the four of us that farmed, what was on the farm, and we had to have a team apiece and which that would have been--eight? Two, four--eight, eight and maybe a spare. One time, we had about ten horses. Mules. This particular farm we had, before the year was out, I think we lost most of those horses. All but about three or four. Some got killed from running off with wagons or up and just sold ----------(??). Because doing right smart work was farming pretty heavy, and so the next year we got a tractor and that relieved quite a bit of pressure off the horses. We started 00:03:00going to horses then. And now, that's something that's passed. We don't have no horses to do no agricultural work. Might have a race horse or something. But anyhow, as I say, when we was young, we went to, I went to a one-room school. Started with the first grade and went through the eighth, I believe it was. One-room school. Teacher taught as far as eighth grade. Most of your younger kids got quite a bit of training out of the older children in that school. Because you have to listen to everything that's going on with the whole school, and you pick up some things with the oldest kids and when you get to that certain grade, you learned quite a bit of it. It's not like the modern day school. From one to eighth. And then after that, in Scott County here, they had one high school, and that was in the city. I was gone--integration hadn't started then and we all went to a--all over the county went to one school and which was in, 00:04:00in the city. Ed Davis High School, that's what that were. And that's where I went to finish school, I think there and that must have been '41, I believe and after that, I went in service for two years. So I see a great difference in farming now, as I was speaking before. Sometime if you're not, if you haven't got big, it's hard to make it on the farm now. Either you have to get out and let somebody else take care of the chores because the machinery got so high and different things and this is what made the difference in farming and were--back in those days. But those days was good days. Days you chopped tobacco out with a hoe. You worm 'em. Now you don't chop out no more because you got a cultivator. You don't worm no more. To keep the worm off because you got chemicals. Before you put it in the ground. It's a whole lot different than it were back in those days. You got so much mechanics involved. Even though you can get a computer and do a whole lot of farm work now. Which you could not do it before. Weigh hay. Or sell it or either--whatever 00:05:00you do--you can do that, things like that on computer if you big enough. And that's some of the different things. Let's see, what else--I need to think. You talking about a young age, huh?
MASON: So, I don't know--we walked to school. From whereverwe lived. The school building now from where I live is just about two miles. But if I was living here at the time that I was going to school, you walked. You wouldn't go by buses. We didn't have buses. You walked and sometime you--didn't miss no days because the weather didn't get too bad. And like now, sometime you can't go on the road, the school buses, because the road's slick--you didn't have to worry about it. Everybody walked up there and you just walk to school. Wrap up good and walk back. And it's quite a bit different. I think the education might be a little different too because I was talking about the one-room school. Now you don't have no kids from--eight years apart in the same room. 00:06:00That's what it would be in a one-room school. From one to eight. Be eight years apart. Most of 'em--year or two years apart and all of 'em studying about the same thing. It's quite a difference. Whether it's good or not, I guess it is some improvement, but when you get to the place or been used to that, it's hard adjust I guess. At my age, going back to that. But it's different. It's just--different. Just like different in farming and different in everything else, I think. Whole lot of farmers--got eighty-five or ninety percent of our food from the farm in which they live on. Today, they, they got--milk, bread from corn which they grind. Vegetables for canning. Potatoes or whatever they have. They put 'em in, bury 'em in the ground. And all that they 'em for winter months, so it wasn't too much back in the early days you had to buy from the store. I think sugar's one 00:07:00thing you had to buy. And coffee. If you drank coffee. But other than that, you made most of your food for the family. Not just yourself, for your whole family, off the farm. It just don't happen now. Now they don't have a milk cow. Most farmers don't. They--if they have a milk cow, they want to have a--I don't know whether they got lazy there or what, but the modern day, if they get a milk cow, which always give more milk than an ordinary cow, the farmer just decide we put two calves on it. Which they do. I've seen 'em put as much as three. Keep from--and don't have to milk. They go to A & P, Kroger's or wherever they might want to do, to buy the food. And I think we going to be hurt maybe someday on this, on account of the farm, and have--farmers have not taken care of their own family and they are not able to take care of others. That's why we have to have so much import here I think now. So I don't know, we may need to get back to those things. I don't know. But it was interesting and life, but you have to keep up with 00:08:00change. And the change will come. We have to try to make, get more material off an acre of ground than we did in the past. Because a whole lot of the ground is under blacktop. Therefore, you have to raise more on the acres in which you have left to try to support the family or have something to sell. And another thing that affects farming, we got disease in livestock. Got disease in tobacco and everything. You have a loss there and which years ago, you didn't have disease like we do now. Most the time, before a plant come out of the ground, you have to spray it with some kind of insect, insect to protect it, to have some. Same way with cattle. You got to spray them. They might not pick up all the different disease and you have to treat 'em. And back in the--years ago, you didn't have to do nothing like that. You go out in the field and kill you a rabbit and have breakfast with it if you want to. Now if you--be kind of dangerous to do that now, because almost have to be tested. Don't--you might be getting something 00:09:00that detrimental to your family and to yourself too. So it's a great big change--yeah. Let's see, I'm trying to think of anything else back in the old days. Talking about tractors and things. Most people, most of the work on the farm was done by the hand. But now, it's done through automatic quite a bit 'cause you don't realize what kind of automatic you have on the tractor that you used to have to do by hand. And just make a great big difference. And so also--whole lot of people that had been on the farm, especially in, in this area, I remember when there quite a few minority farmers in this area, and we got down to just about one or two. And if the older people have family, some of 'em went to city. Some of 'em went to places in which they could make a better life for theirself and this has got to the place that not too many minority in this area is on the farm. I'm a small farmer, myself. I only have about seventy-five acres, but still I--some of 'em, that's pretty good size too, but--if you going to farm for great big production, you have 00:10:00to sharecrop and now a whole lot of those people are gone to other places and didn't decide to sharecrop. So, let's see. What else? You have anything else you think about that you need?
LEWTON: Well, just try to, if you could, describe for mewhen you were a little boy, as far back as you can remember, your day. What sort of chores you did? All that kind of stuff.
MASON: We--as I say, was three brothers of us when wewas small. Each one of 'em had a chore before you go to school. Back in those days, we heated by wood or coal. Most the time, the fire go out the night before. One of the brothers, of the three of us, had a chore to make the fire. Make it two places in the house. One had a chore of going and milking the cow. And maybe you have two cows to milk. And sometime, that cow had a calf, but just to milk for, and the other one had a chore of probably gearing up the horses, 00:11:00putting the gear on for my father at that time may be work. So that's the three chores they have. When they come back from school, chores would be to get the wood for the house for the next day or whatever it is. Milk the cow again. You milked twice. Once in the morning--and most the time, when my father come in, one of 'em's responsibility was take the harness off the horse. And also feed them in the wintertime. They had to be fed just like that. And that's why, and, and that's why the--you don't have those kind of chores no more. Most the time, children--I don't know what they have. Well, they have television to watch I reckon when they come home. And maybe books too. But still, they don't have, because those things have been convenient. Back those days, it wasn't convenient. I was talking about also raising a crop. Tobacco. We had worms, you know, mention a few. We used to have to go up and down each row to get the worms out. But now we put a spray on it that, that kills all those insects. So that's another difference. Cutting 00:12:00hay. For the horses, for the winter you had to cut it and put it in a stack by hand. Pitchforks and things. And you leave it over the winter and then you feed from those stacks. But now you bail it. And you don't have that to do no more. Now that is done automatic. So that's some of the difference things that we have changed in the farm, which it, which it were a few years ago. Also, we have a, most the time you have a road to your house. If you're on the farm, from the main highway. You sometime get snow pretty bad. You had to take shovels and dig them out so you can get in and out. This time of the year, if we do have that, we got an attachment on the tractor that you can do whatever it take you to do in twenty-four hours, you can do in a hour. If you get that equipment in order to do that. So that's the--that's one of the changes we have. And also, there's other change too, but I, I can't 00:13:00think of too much right, right now. But it's just a major change that we have. That we didn't have in early life. Trying to think of something else we done that done, different that it is now, but I can't think of nothing right now. Unless you can think of something for me.
LEWTON: Well, did you remember about what year it was thatyou started using pesticides on tobacco instead of pulling the worms off of it by hand?
MASON: Some type of pesticide--it wasn't the modern one. Firstthing that I remember after we quit worming is a chemical called Paris Green. And that's something you put in a, some kind of spray and put on tobacco or insect to keep them off, but it--sometime give a person--get, they get allergic to it. It all--sometime hurt 'em. They'd get on the tobacco and when you have to do all the work in the tobacco, it get on your skin and everything. But this now, what the, the modern--insecticide 00:14:00like that, I think it come around in about the late forties or early fifties. And this is dangerous too. I, I would have to take a class on the farm here every so often to keep us, keep up with this, this material and which we should use for different things. But this is when, I think it happened about early fifties or maybe--late fifties, early sixties when they went to this other thing like the--protect the insects and things. But also on the garden. You got fertilizer that you got something in the fertilize to help keep down some of the insects and also keep weeds from growing. And just like across the road over there now, they got a chemical on the tobacco bed now which killed the weeds. Wherever they're going to have tobacco bed. And back in the early days, you didn't do that you burned it with wood. And pull it by horses. To burn and try to kill the seeds from--which were left through the 00:15:00winter or whatever. So that when you put your crop out next year, you wouldn't have as many weeds and, and now they went to a chemical and it's less work and, and it do a better job and everything too. But, but--and that's what happened, make it convenient for farming. That they may be able to do some of those things. And what--every little farm, as I, as I said, was--I have seventy acres. Most of that farm always--have much at forty-five, fifty acres, whoever owned the farm had to have one person at least to help 'em all the time. Seventy acres farm, one farm, not enough for one, not enough for one farmer now with the machine they have. Onliest one or two times in the year, which is cutting tobacco and stripping tobacco, but do give 'em a full-time--he wouldn't need no extra person. Almost have to have three hundred, three hundred fifty acres that you might need somebody else. And that's when they used to have a tenant house on every farm. Every farm--much as seventy-five, eighty acres always had what the family lived in a tenant house on 00:16:00that--they might say the people that worked for this farmer or either raised crop on shares, could share some of those farms with 'em, but now that's what happened to some of the people. When they didn't need those people for the farm, with the mechanic come on, they went to find 'em another job. That's why they had to go to factory or place like that. Because with the-- you couldn't buy the machine and also pay for help at the same time. Extra help. So you had to make a choice. To--if you're going to buy machine, if you have two people helping you or one, whatever that, you almost have to get rid of them to take that money to help pay the machine, and that person had to go somewhere else and work. So that's the--some of the things which make it quite a bit different than it were back in those days. But--cutting tobacco is one thing, on the farm, that have never found a machine in this area that do satisfied work, and they, that's one of the things they have done by hand. Like it were back in those days. Some people have machines, but it doesn't seem 00:17:00to be doing satisfactory work and they, I think the University of Kentucky working on something with some farmers to try to help 'em. And they have helped some, but it hasn't got to the place that it's sufficient enough to try to get rid of that altogether. Then if you ever get a machine that one man can handle his own tobacco, he won't have to have no help at all hardly, because this other--like hay and crop like that, one man can do everything now. But now you have to do mostly--cutting tobacco by a, by manpower. And of course they got a machine stripping that's doing pretty good, but that's one of the things that the modern, hadn't been modernized enough to take care of whatever the need is. And let's see--I can't think of nothing else right now. Look like I done run out of thinking. (laughs)
LEWTON: Well, just try to, just, just try to relax aminute. Do you remember anything your father said to you, about when he was growing up? What it was like when he was growing up? Or any stories he told you? Just anything, you know.
MASON: Well I guess everybody think of something about where's all00:18:00the people--well one of the things that he told us, and not only him but just, as a sign deal--as I was speaking all the time, it was very important then to go by signs. Now we've gotten away from that some, but I still think something in signs. About castrating, offspring from cattle or whatever--hog, whatever, and also garden. Planting with the moon and things of that sort. But I seen things in my life that if you go by signs, you most of the time have a better crop. Even though the chemical people or those signs--sometime tell us don't believe in that, but I kind of believe that if you go by signs, through some experience, that I feel that we have a good opportunity to have a better crop, and also have better--livestock would be better if we go by sign. And that's one of the things that my father told me and back in that days--and he 00:19:00come up, that it is already--go by signs and you go, go by, have a better crop, so I think this is the same thing today. And another thing my father said, and most people back there, you had to work hard to make a living. You have to keep on pressing on. Sometime people think it's different now. They might think they can--play the lottery. That's good if you can win, if you a winner. (laughs) But that don't put bread on the table sometime. Which is work hard and, and try to save something for a rainy day. That's one of the things people told you back in those days. If you happen to get a little piece of money off a crop, profit, invest it back in something that you might have more the next time. So you have to prepare for a rainy day. And this is something what older people taught us and I don't know whether we do that much teaching of that today, but it's still essential to try to do those things. 00:20:00And, and most--back in those days, the wife or a family didn't work much. She took care of the chores at the house and if they had children, she mostly raised them. But now the woman of the house, most the time, got another job outside the house. And sometime they really make more than some of the men. And some of those that--farming. I know some of 'em say now that you have to work out somewhere to try to pay for the farm which you live on. And that might be a fact. To eat. (laughs) And so this is another thing that have changed and, and I think that they didn't have but one car if they had any. Now we have three or four to a family. And these are some of the things that have changed in the later years than it was in the early part of the years. 'Cause only one car to most families back in--when I growed up. Sometime didn't have one, but you never had over one. They believed 00:21:00in going to church all the time and this, I think, is a good tradition. 'Course I been today. (laughs) And they think about the Everlasting more than a whole lot of people do. In this day and time, I think. Whether that's good or bad, I think we need to consider some of those things. Being good citizens, good Americans or whatever you might want to be. Let's see--
LEWTON: Well, did your family go to church when you werelittle? Did you-all have--
MASON: We had a, a church in the rural here atthat time. It was about four miles there. It was quite a bit--settled around through here and they had a church there we went to. But now, I go to church in Georgetown. 'Course that only five miles from here and you got a automobile. It, it's not the distance, but this is one of the things that we have lost in the community. When everybody gone their different ways. The church. And sometime when everybody leave, or a whole lot of 'em leave, you have to go somewhere else to church, so most time, every little community around had a church. But now they don't have 'em anymore. 00:22:00They gone to church in town. 'Course there's one not too far from here. But it's just about as far as in town where we go at now. And so, it just was--most the time the church was like a school. Walking just--you could walk. And now it's just like the school is, almost impossible to walk. Because when I was young, even before the integration, were in Scott County, I remember six high schools. Now we have one. And elementary school, which is for, for high school--I don't know how many it were, but I figured in the county, might have been twenty. Now it's five I believe. So that's let you know that some people from one edge of the county have to go farther. That's not only in the minority area I'm talking about. In all the areas. We only have one, one county school, the high school, and had six at one time. So therefore, everybody have to cross over each other 00:23:00more. And so that, that's another difference. But they say that it cheaper now to haul 'em to one building than it is--maintenance, and take care of six buildings in the county. 'Course I was on the school board one time, and that's one reason, it was one of the things that when you go cutting down the school, that's what they say happen. The saving. But I really, I'm not so sure of that. (laughs) But we have to do something to--they say--claim it's cheaper to make your transportation through the buses and gas and have more people in one building that they would be having to sell a building and have people go from--keep--upkeep on those and also people driving from one--short distance than it were going to a heavy distance. And you get, they say you get a better education. We hope they do. And so--let's see--anything else I need to think about.
LEWTON: Well, do you remember what kind of church it wasthat you went to when you were-- 00:24:00
MASON: I'm a Baptist. And it was a Baptist church.It was a Baptist--but they had wood stove. Just like the farm did. They had wood stove, maybe--outside bathroom. And now you got--air condition--heat. Yeah. Bigger crowd. And everybody still late. (laughs) They still late. So it, I don't know, on one part it might be more convenient but it, if you have to--somebody said well you late. If you have to go ten miles, you prepare for ten miles. If you got to go half a mile, you prepare for half a mile. But I don't, I think that give you a closer, more responsibility in your area. You, you said I can't wait--eleven o'clock, going to start, I can't wait five minutes late to go. I have to--if I'm fifteen, twenty minutes away from this place, I have to start twenty minutes--fifteen, twenty minutes early. So but I think this modern day now, everybody waiting on each other or something. 00:25:00I don't know, it's beautiful and everything is good, but I don't know whether people is quite as sincere as they was back there in those days. But I, I'm a Baptist. Most of my family Baptist. Before when, I was brought up. And I'm not a--I believe everybody want to go to the same place. The denomination doesn't mean that much. If--but you need to choose somebody, I think ' cause we not our own keeper. I, I don't want to get into preaching, though. (laughs) I am a deacon of the church in which I belong and I don't know whether--you probably don't know what that is no how. That's just an officer of the church and--but I'm not a--I think everybody need to--do something to try to help theirselves and help the community to live better by being in church. Let's see. Anything else you can think about?
LEWTON: Well, can you tell me something about your mother?Just describe your mother. What kind of person she was--
MASON: My mother was a, a--she, she never worked out of00:26:00the home. By raising five children, she didn't have time. Back in those days. But we just, we had three hot meals a day. She prepared the meals. Went about raising the children. Doing the washing, the ironing. And we ate as a the family, most time, back in those days. We all ate together. And a hot meal three time a day. And the difference from them and it is now, most--we don't have time to eat together. And we really don't have three hot meals. Most the time we have cold cut or whatever. But the fast, modern day, everybody in such a hurry, you don't have time to enjoy the family connection like you did back in those days. We always had our supper at the right, about the same time. We have--after all the day's chores is over. And before the kids started--taking care of the homework or 00:27:00whatever it is they do. They have supper together and thank, thank the Lord for whatever we have to eat and thing. And, and that was just mostly her day's work. From one day to another. That--just take care of the family need. Back in there--was not work out--she might help a little bit on the farm with her husband, my father a little bit. But not enough to mention. But now, it's, it's different. And most people, she did about what most people did then. That didn't have to do--this might be some time that somebody might become a teacher or something. Then this mother that wasn't doing, take care of our children or some, something like that. But that's about--'course she did--she sewed clothes. Patched pants for the kids or us when we tear 'em. And now we most the time throw 'em away when we get too many holes in 'em. And, and it wasn't too much to be waste. Because there 00:28:00wasn't nothing there to be waste. Wasn't that much you--if you tear your pants the first day you--you bought 'em, put 'em on, you might not get another one for several more months. So therefore, you have to take care of those and work on 'em, and that's what the mothers did then and mine was no different from nobody else. Let's see. What else?
LEWTON: Well, did she can a lot of food?
MASON: Oh yeah. Yeah. She--from this garden or this whateverwe planted. She canned, well tomatoes and also wasn't no deep freeze then to amount--refrigerator wasn't--very scarce, but deep freeze what you keep food at this time, you had to can it. We had canned hog meat. Vegetable. And just about anything that you, you grew on the farm though, with sausage. People used to kill hogs every year. And they, they fry the sausage, put 'em in the jar and can 'em. Put 'em in a cellar or basement. And we had a cellar at that time 00:29:00when we was kids. Now we have a basement. But--and put potatoes in 'em. And also dig a hole in the barn somewhere where you bury potatoes. Cabbage. And anything that would keep a certain limit of time. Like the winter is here that it won't freeze. Then you dig 'em out as you need 'em. So this is the part of the--what my mother did back there that you didn't have to go to the store as much, you know, when you have vegetables. In the summertime, if you don't prepare for the wintertime, you wouldn't have any unless you did can 'em. So she canned and as I sold, and sewed the children clothes and prepared for the winter months while the summer was going on. And we, I think we got a hole in barn, in the barn where--around here somewhere where I seen a few years ago that, what people had buried vegetables. And put straw over 'em to keep 'em from touching too much and rotting. And sometime you can keep 'em in there from--I'll say September through February 00:30:00or March. And sometime, people have had potatoes until the other potatoes come from the garden of that year. If you have enough supply last and you take care of 'em. And this is--and then also, you have beans and things that you can from one year to another. And you leave, you use until another crop come on. And sometime, people have a, abundant crop, they have more than they need, and then they can also take 'em over to another year. And they will keep in these container if they took care right. This is mostly what my mother and other mothers did. And--when we was small. But getting back to what I said at first, now with the woman of the house also doing another job, she can't hardly do that. Then most the time, the farmer elect to raise enough garden to support a great big family. Most time. That's why we always in Kroger's and A & P or whatever we might be. Try to get our food, you see. So it's a great big change in farming. As I say, I think we going to need 00:31:00this again. Getting back to the old landmark. Because of-- people getting homeless. Maybe not in this nation here, well Russia for instance. We need to get back to the individual farm I think. So I don't know.
LEWTON: Well, what did you do about a doctor back whenyou were little? How, how did--was there a doctor in the community?
MASON: Yes, it was a doctor--if it wasn't in--a doctor inthe community, his base was in Georgetown in case we had most time--they did house call. They, they--back in, when I was young, I think I, I wasn't born in the hospital. I think I was born in the home. And, and then they had these people when the doctor couldn't get to you, that an older person, they had a name for them people--another, some women around the area take care of other women, and I forgot their name. What they called? The--I can't think of what it is right now. But they took care of 'em 'til the doctor get there. 00:32:00But the doctor always had a horse and a buggy back in those days. And he did house calls. And sometime that--if he didn't get there that day, he got there the next day. And these neighbors and mothers or whatever, who knew something about whatever was going on, generally take care of a child that got sick until the doctor get there. But that's what happen then. You get, they make house calls. Then. These doctors did. There wasn't that many of 'em, but it was enough to take care of the community in which they lived in. I remember the doctor come in this area, live in Georgetown. But sometime you find a doctor live in the area. And which--and then go to the town to practice. And they just called him or get in contact with him when someone get sick, and he just get his horse or mule together, come on over and take care of the service. And go back. Just--but now, with the cars and cab, train and buses, they still won't--don't hardly leave the office. You have to go to them. 00:33:00So this make a very big difference. I think back in my day when they born, wasn't too many children born in hospital. Like it is today. And now, it's not too many that's not born in the hospital. That makes a difference. So. So that's the, the difference that we have today than we did back in those days.
LEWTON: Did the doctor come when a baby was born too?I mean was that--or did, just the women locally take care of that?
MASON: Well, it's--sometime when you couldn't get the doctor, the womenlocal took care of that. They knew that. They been going through experience, what they got before--their days and time and they just went over to them. But quite a few of 'em was born sometime before the doctor get there. The doctor might be called or sent after, but sometime the child, by being on a horse and a mule as we saying, sometime when you get there, the child already been born. And he'll take care of whatever he need to do after he get there. But these womens in the neighborhood, if a woman was pregnant, it always a family around that know something about what to do in case of 00:34:00emergent. I guess there would be emergent if you couldn't get hold of the doctor. And that's the way it were then. But now it's quite a bit different. You go to the hospital. But it, it make a different--and then I don't think that it--I don't--didn't hear of nobody say wasn't too many children lost on account of medical attention. 'Cause they knew enough about it to take care of them until the doctor did get there. If it was complicated then, he would took care of you, see. So--so it--and not only the--everything just done on your farm mostly. They grind feed, they done it on the farm. With some kind of grinder. Now we go to shop--Southern State or someplace to get feed grind. But most everything they done on the farm. That you need. So if some of 'em didn't, they didn't grind too much corn cobs together like they did now. They just break a ear of corn in three or four pieces and throw it out to the cows and they eat 00:35:00it from there. Now you grind it. Sometime you put another mixture in it but still they was getting it direct from just breaking it in half in two, the cow might eat the whole cob and the corn and everything. So this is one of the, one of the differences they had. Um-hm. So I don't know of anything else.
LEWTON: Well, would you mind talking to me a little bitabout Southern States? Have you been involved in, in the co-op or anything?
MASON: Yeah, Southern States is a co-op of farmers and you,your, you buy shares within those--Southern States and which you be a member of things. And so I belong to it. And you, you get a little discount from it. Where you wouldn't get from a regular feed place. Because it, you put a little piece of money in it, the farmers themselves. But it's modern and most county have one. If it's not Southern States, it's another feed mill similar to that. But we also benefit 00:36:00from it, I guess. But still, you have to go again to that place. You don't have the material back to where you have a pick-up truck. And take your material out to get it grind or mix it with some other source of stuff and mix it all together and then bring it back to the farm. Back in those days, they used to say anytime you have to take things away from your farm and bring it back, it's a problem. That you lose some, or you lose some of the value and things. But I guess with the modern day, you almost have to 'cause everybody can't have a Southern States. You have to co-op for somebody to do some of this work. And that's another reason why that's the, the individual farmer don't have this much help. He got Southern States doing some of his work. Which a long time ago, you did it on the farm. So this is another thing that make a difference.
LEWTON: Well what time did that come in to this partof the country? Where you--
MASON: Southern States? I'll say--fifties. In the fifties.00:37:00When would that be? I think what happen, after they found out some of the farmers were leaving and different thing, and they need some more stationary place to take care of some of the small needs, that's when these place like Southern States come in. After you got come of your children away from the farm and some of the labor away from the farm. If I was going to grind some feed for today, it took three mens to grind it. Better for me to load my pick-up and took it for the grinder already at, and the people there all the time, and, and it'd been cheaper too. Because you have to hire somebody for grind feed. Or maybe today get you three, two--and you might not could find that person. But now, that's open all the time that you can go and get that done and bring it right on back to the farm. And that, I think it's come in, in here quite a few years now. And I don't think we'll every get back, away from things 00:38:00like that. So--you--people used to raise sheeps and things here at this particular county. And they used to come and, they used to go and shear sheep and things like this. So that's over with now. You don't see very many sheep around here. Had turkeys and different things. And they used to do it right on the farm. But now they don't do this on the farm or they just go to the place like that. Um-hm. Yeah. Bring the feed in and grind it or either sell it or, or--which, which individual farmer, as I say, couldn't hardly do it 'cause he didn't have the manpower and the machinery. Now what Southern States maybe taking care of say, fifty or sixty farmers here. In the area. Either some--and then if you had you individual doing it on the farm, you wouldn't have enough equipment plus the labor to do those things. And this is what, this come a co-op. And by being, having a co-op and you 00:39:00a member of it, by you being a member of it, you get a little discount on it. Other than people that hasn't been a member of this co-op. So it's a same way in selling tobacco. They got kind of a co-op in tobacco. If you got a whole lot tobacco and you take it just to one place to get it sold, you decided that you could, he can get a whole lot more tobacco somewhere, you'll get a little discount. So if, the bigger the material is, the better discount you can get. Sometime. So that's about, most in anything here on the farm now. You can find out a little discount little better.
LEWTON: Well, do you know who started that around here?Who, who brought, who brought Southern States in here?
MASON: I think Southern States came out of Virginia. Andwhen he come here. I think the main office now is in Virginia. But it was--I guess who it was, Southern States that felt the need was going to be here. And they went in with the--cooperate with the, help with some farmers to get one established here. So it really come from Virginia. I 00:40:00think it come here to Kentucky, I mean.
LEWTON: How did they approach the farmers? To find youto come join? I mean, how did they, how did you find out about it?
MASON: Well, somebody--after--you, you get a--advertising in--a better way of farming,or maybe some classes you go to. You hear about these things. And then see where your--enough people would be interested in this area and if enough interest in this area, they have a meeting to see how many would support this if it come here. If they get the support that is large enough, they'll go ahead and establish one. And I think that's the way it come here. Before they did come here, they all--got the support of people that they might have been able to come and, and you have to, I think it's something like a contract that if you're going to, if we're going to come here, we have to have your support. Then if it, if you didn't, it wouldn't be feasible to come. That's how it got here I think. And I think that was how we got involved.
LEWTON: Were most people pretty supportive of it?00:41:00
MASON: Yeah, they were. Because--especially because when the farming, asI say, got to be--do some of the things at this place that they wouldn't do on the farm. Couldn't do on the farm. Because didn't have the manpower and also didn't have the machinery to do this. Like grinding and different things. Take a pick-up truck of corn, if I put on there, I can, they can grind it up in five minutes. Just put it in there and grind it. And so, but this same thing. If I had it on my farm, if I was going to grind it--type that I get, it took half a day. Just to grind a pick-up truck. Then you had to have extra help to get it in there, thing too, so now, in other words, it's just like a tractor. A little tractor and a big tractor. Well all that material that they got is really strong. Not breaking down every few minutes and everything. Because it equipped to do this kind of work. But you can have one on the farm, but it might have been equipped to take care of it if you didn't overload it. And you can very easily overload it you see. From an individual like that. Yeah, Um-hm. 00:42:00
[Pause in recording.]
MASON: --from the family--we had--back in those early days, they hada veterinarian that come to the farm and which they do some now, but see a veterinary is just like a hospital now. A veterinary is setting somewhere--he at and he want you to come to him. And we do, now, more than--'cause if we get a sick cow, we used to call the veterinary, he'd come out. Take care of 'em. Maybe doc on it two or three times. But if that sick cow is not too sick to get in a truck, they'd rather for you to bring it to him. Well, one reason, they got all the equipment there. They got all the medicine there. And everything. And you just call in and, and if you can get him on the truck, you take him on up in that. But back there before then, people--veterinary used to come. He was just like a doctor. Sometime he get there, he might be too late, too, it might be so long. He got so many other people to serve. And then also, they, they train these farmers 00:43:00to know a little, know a little part of veterinary. You can get the, feel what kind of problem you have. Like I give my calves penicillin. That's what a veterinary would do if it got a bad cold. And I can tell almost when it need something or get strained on account of stress. We can do some of it ourselves. I'm not, I'm not a, haven't been to the position to take a calf you know, but you can do that. That's what a veterinary do. It's just like a, a woman. They have to take calves out the side now. Sometime when the cow is too small to produce a calf the right way, what's it called? That word they call it--where you take a baby?
MASON: Caesarean. They do that for cows now. Acow get bloated and this is something for--what a bloating is, in the spring, grass get green. And a cow like green grass. And they eat too much of that green grass, it build up a gas within the stomach and they call that bloating. 00:44:00If you don't release that gas in a certain amount of time, this'll kill a cow. I can do that, just kind of--you can--you have to stick the cow in a certain place and let that gas off. Those kind of things, a farmer by experience can learn how to do. But sometime you get to the place if it don't work, they'll get a veterinary as far as that--so that's--and they like for you to bring that to 'em. 'Cause you can take a cow that is bloating and is getting big and everything, you can get 'em on a truck, you know. Sometimes. And if you do, you can take 'em there and they'll take care of it. Then if you can't do it, you can, but I said but if you can do it, you can go ahead and do it yourself. And least help her until you can get a veterinary there. But veterinaries just like a doctor. They like for you to bring the material to 'em. And which is better 'cause it's convenient for 'em and they got all the things they need there at the office, you know. And everything can't be all portable--transportation back and forth--that might do the service. And just about anything now, you almost have 00:45:00to go to the people to succeed. Let's see, what else I'm thinking about. I just thought I was thinking about now. I reckon--
LEWTON: Well, just say anything about like when you were ayoung kid that just different now. You know, anything you remember or any kinds of things that happened to you. Do you remember, like what sort of tools the doctors use? Or veterinarians used? Or just--that were different maybe.
MASON: Well most of 'em, back in those days, they didn'thave as much--it's like when you go to put your car in the shop. They can put it on those meters? And tell you what wrong five minutes when you get there. It's the same way a veterinary can do now. He can put you on some of those meters, or the cow or whatever it is, and you can diagnose the thing right then. Back in there, you had--just use some common judgment, experience. You didn't have the material to work with. Sometime you working on the wrong 00:46:00thing. I guess you might--when you go shop sometime--but you shouldn't. You working on the--but it's--your--but you have more experience, you got a good idea where you working on, but still you sometime working on the wrong thing because it don't have enough know-how to do whatever they need to be done at that particular time. And that's the same way for farmers. Sometime a farmer can be putting on the wrong kind of fertilize. That's why they got now a soil test. You test the soil in order to get the type of fertilize that you think you should have on your, on your crop. 'Cause sometime, some part of the county need more limestone than the other part do. And so by testing these soil in front, they'll give you the, they'll give you the type of fertilize you need. And so that's also about a livestock. If you test 'em with different kind of tests, they'll let you know what kind of mineral they need for building up the system. Also preparing for calving. Just like build the 00:47:00system up. But they almost have to run tests first. And this was different back in the old days you didn't have nothing to test with. You just looked at a cow and you say, well she look good. But she could be sick. 'Cause she look good. But having those tests, you can find out whether she able to have calves. That's why some of 'em die in calf birth. Because they, you been giving 'em the wrong kind of chemicals for the body. And you wouldn't know nothing about it. That's why you need a veterinary. And sometime back in there, without those tests, they didn't know all the time, but they had a better chance than you did. 'Cause they had some experience, though. So that's one of the differences we have now than we have, had several years ago.
LEWTON: Was it hard to pay for, like a veterinarian tocome out? How was, how was that handled? How was paying for that sort of stuff handled?
MASON: Well you, that's part of farm life. If youhave to have a, always try to put a supply--enough of those things when they come in. It's just like if your car, 00:48:00my car don't--truck don't start in the morning, if I can't get it started, what I'm going to do? Get somebody. If a cow sick tomorrow, if I can't handle it, I need to get somebody. If I don't have the money to get it, it's just like credit card, I guess. If the people--most the time, your veterinary--whole lot of farmers run a year's bill. If he have to come several time and they've established--set up this. To run a year's bill. And when you go selling the offspring off the cattle you had, you pay your, your bills. You know. Like that. That's the way it were back in there. But most small farmers try to take care of it as we go. But that's one way of doing it. Sometime when a--'specially on a farm when a baby's born, a doctor don't get, if it's 'fore you got insurance, doctor didn't get his money then. Might have to sell some hogs, maybe. Those hogs might not be ready for six months. May have to sell some tobacco. And if he's sharp and keep up, 00:49:00he might have it front from the last year he sold. So--it, it's--little store right up on the hill where I go to where I live, I know ten farmers I would say around here, this store'll carry 'em for a year. Sharecroppers. And that, that's pretty--and they just get a book and put it on there. I like to see how long A & P will carry you. Kroger. And this is a part of the community. The store up here where I was talking about, whole lot of 'em, when they died, owed this man some debt, too. And that's one, the main reason he almost have to charge you a little more on his material for those that not able to pay. Back in those days, quite a bit. And, and I know just the store where I--it's not here now. You just go up there and he, this man got kind of old and trying to keep up the time and somebody come in there and buy a pop or something. Maybe pay for it, but may not--then he come and want to buy, run a bill there. And he said he hadn't seen him for a long time, say 00:50:00go to Kroger's and A & P. They know they couldn't do it. But they had a bill there that they run until I sell my tobacco. And this what done got out of some of the community now. Is those little country stores. And some of 'em feel the effect of it. 'Cause they have gone--and this takes--right smart overhead to run for--ten people six or seven months. Not getting much money. They might get some as it come in. And then if the hail come up, or storm come up and destroy the crop, he might be lost. Altogether. Don't have--if he, if he didn't have no other means of getting it. Which he didn't. He didn't. He wouldn't been charging it first. So this is from--different in farming now that the little store in the community, of these farming--was something like a bank. You almost might have to be a small bank to operate. Something like a bank. And then if he's small, he go to the bank and get his money to hold until they pay it off and go back with that money. 00:51:00You know, to--they just--but--this is something that is good. Everybody's trying now--need to just try to pay as it go or either master charge. (laughs) So you might not be paying every bill, but he got some kind of master charge. But back in there, it was the country store. And they was in about every community. Where Scott County might had--whole Scott County, there might been, I would say--ten or fifteen country stores. But now they're all getting swallowed up. Country store can't hardly make it now. Because, you know, not enough farmers here you say. Neither. And the guy that working over here to Toyota go where he can get something five cents less on a pound than he would be on a little country store. So you run him out of business. And, and, and that's why the farmer, as I say, he don't have that place to go to get his things. He have to go to A & P or Kroger. And which nothing wrong with that. I'm not saying that. But that was the backbone of the community back then, the little country store. Country store and church. 00:52:00
LEWTON: Huh. Do you remember when this started, when thecountry stores started going out of business?
MASON: Yeah, I was here when this one up here--up ontop of the hill, when it went out. What happened, it was just like farming. I think the store had been run way before my time by somebody, well his son, maybe he had three sons. Or four sons. One of them took it up. Then if he died, he might have three or four children. And one of those took it up. But the last one that come up here that I remember, then this one closed down, he, he wasn't getting the trade because other people gone somewhere else. And everybody say he was too high. Which he had to be too high to offset some of the loss I just got through talking about. And they just run him out of the business. And, and I think his children, that would have been running it now, they at Kroger's, A & P somewhere. If they got the store deal in it, he working for wherever they come from. A & P, it might be in Georgetown or Lexington, but our main office somewhere else, isn't it? Yeah, so they, in order--I can't make it, I just join 00:53:00'em. So that's what happened to them. Little country store. They got run out on account of those things. Then they can, they can get--some of these country stores were buying something from A & P, like sugar. Or they buy five hundred pounds. From there. To bring it to here, his place. So he bought it--five hundred pound up there, he have to raise it up a little bit to get his money back, plus what he had invested in it, you see. So, yeah, and then this is, this is kind of knocked out. This is, this country store is doing just like the farmer. Small farmer. They getting knocked out. And have gotten knocked out. And if communities like this size don't have 'em, somebody run you awhile, you got to go somewhere else, you see. So-- yeah that's it. That's about all I think I--
LEWTON: Well do you have anything to say about that?Just about the decline of the communities like that? Those tight-knit communities, you know, they've disappeared.
MASON: They, they have disappeared and the, I think the fellowship00:54:00one with the other also disappeared and the, I think the fellowship, one with the other, also disappeared. Everybody knew each other. Now, with the change of everything or something, I don't know some of my neighbors here. 'Cause some of 'em are renting and he gone six month or something. But everybody stayed all the time, you get to know 'em. From kids on up, you see. But when everybody scatter, you, you look like--lose some of the cooperation, your net. And another thing, it's so easy to get to Georgetown now. Or wherever. Back then, you had a horse and buggy, you had to make your--my neighbor could be twenty miles from here and he's just as close as--he wouldn't be no farther over there--if I had to walk over there, and drive twenty miles. See, I can get to Lexington for a--in my car quicker than I can get to the second house over there I walk. And that's what you did that day. Or either rode a horse a horse or something like that. So your, your, your--you get yourself in the condition that you can have more 00:55:00friends a longer distance apart. Telephones, for instance. You can, you can--especially women. They can have their friends--if you pay the bill, lot of women they talk to them, they can talk to them every day. Because it's convenient. Well, back in those day I grew up, wasn't too many of these people have telephones. So it make, it make a difference. (laughs) If you have your friend, or something, you couldn't talk or see 'em, you kind of find a closer friend, wouldn't you? But now, you can live--somebody live right here, well our son live in Lexington. I think his mother call him about every day. (laughs) I don't like it 'cause it long distance, but still, you can do it. Without too much headache. I think twenty, you can call from home to home for fifty-five, sixty cent. But that's cheaper than driving if you want to. If you want to do it. But that's--the--communication got broader. Just like everything else. Country store, I said, lost some of theirs, but going there, the communication, you have to offset it somewhere else so the communications got better 00:56:00because you got phone. Television. Things like that.
LEWTON: Well how did most people come together? Was thatat church?
LEWTON: Where they socialized?
MASON: Church is what the main--even though in the country here.Georgetown was a big town as far as the countryside. Saturday, back when I a little boy, everybody we said, go to Georgetown. We meet. Especially in the summertime. And churches and activities like that. That's where everybody meet each other. Church is the main thing, I think. ----------(??) meeting. Bring food sometime. Come at eight thirty or nine o'clock in the morning, stay 'til--that's when your--nine o'clock in the summertime. Have fellowship and talk with each other at these little country church.
LEWTON: Well tell me about going into Georgetown. What doyou remember? How, how was that? Like tell me a day where your family would go into Georgetown on a Saturday.
MASON: Sometime on a Saturday, we might--people--work--if they did work atall on Saturday, they didn't work, they didn't believe in working but 00:57:00one-half a day. They needed one--all day Sunday and half-day Saturday to--fellowship with the religion partner and with friends or something. So most people, they going to work, they going to work till twelve o'clock on Saturday. Then they'll go to town and they'll meet each other. And then if they come back and the next day, they go to church. So this is--and at that time--early part of time, they went with buggies and horses. That, that's a little before my time. I remember a little bit of it as a kid, but I didn't drive one. I wasn't old enough to drive. My father was. Go with the horse and buggy. And it just like a--I'll say now, going to Georgetown from where--and this only five miles out, it's just like--they prepare for it like I go to Cincinnati. We drove over to Cincinnati now in the car. I'm going to Cincinnati today. That's what you'll say. You get ready to go in the morning. You want to go early. That's what they'll do to go to Georgetown. Because the means was horses and you can get the same thing. You can almost get to Cincinnati in 00:58:00the car, it be so quick as you can get to Georgetown on horses. You know, back then. Well, now, you get it better because you wouldn't get there at all. But back in there, the same--just prepare for it. So that's just what they did. Meeting, talking--then they'll have enough conversation to last until the next week. Saturday. (laughs) Then if one of those circles don't miss somebody, oh what happened to John Brown? He might be sick. Somebody might find out--but the meeting--two minutes there, some of this other bunch go and look for them. That person. Family friend. Something wrong. He ain't been here for three Saturdays. And they go look, find out this person might be sick and then they--come and see what he need anything--if he a farmer, help him, maybe give him a day's work. Those people that have been friends and messing with him and they just kind of cooperate to understanding------------(??) and also a spiritual guide. 00:59:00That's what they did then. It's hard now to--if I'm sick, I'm just saying like this. And need some--something done on the farm, my--my next door neighbor might not know nothing about it. You know. We're not that close. You know, I'm not that close to them. I'm saying and but then--look like they more involved in what their everyday life was. And this is why they find out all these things and do these things. And we're not close like we were then. That's the way--I think this, that's about all I know anyhow.
LEWTON: Okay. Well thank you.
[End of interview.]