A few years back, I wrote a column on sayings.

My friend, Steve Wilmore, reminded me that one of his mother’s favorites went like this … “You’re going to have to lick that calf again.”

That one goes back to another I use to hear ... “If you have the time to do it over, you had the time to do it right the first time.”

Well, I have a couple of calves I need to lick again.

I wrote some time back about old country stores and the many delicacies consumed under ceiling fans and over creaky, oiled, wooden floors and oil-cloth-covered tables. Among the delights, I listed boloney, crackers, sliced cheese, Beanie Weenies and Louisiana Hot Sauce.

I ran into long-time friend last week, and he reminded me of the fact I had left out potted meat. To his credit, that was true. So, here’s to all you potted-meat lovers.

Later, I received an email from Bill Sheppard, a part of the Gordonsville High School Class of 1960. Bill, who now lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan, suggested I should have included Vienna Sausage in my country-store menu. He was right on. As a matter of fact, yours truly has consumed his share of Vienna Sausage along with pork ‘n beans, purchased at a country store.

When I first began to make the mule rides in the Grand Canyon, I met Ron Clayton, head mule skinner. Ron headed up the mule rides on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon for 25 years. During those years, he made several trips to Tennessee to purchase mules from the Reese Brothers of Gallatin. Ron shared with me how he enjoyed stopping at a country store for a “good ‘ole” souse sandwich. There you go. I forgot the souse too.

Be as it may, whatever takes you back to those old country stores and a simpler way of life, it’s a good thing.

On another subject, I alluded to weeding tobacco plant beds in a recent column, but I didn’t get into the details. That’s another calf I want lick again.

My father took great pains in preparing his tobacco plant beds. In his day, he was confronted by two enemies — late frost and weeds. Some of my readers may be familiar with the phrase, “burning off a plant bed.” Well, we burned a few off in our time.

In my mind’s eye, I can still see the brush piled high over the length of the plant bed. My brother, John, remembers my father burning a log until it was charred black, then slowly rolling it over the plant bed to kill the weed seed. In later years, we gassed the plant beds to kill weed seed. But try as we might, there was always some weeding left to be done.

Here’s another phrase lost to the past ... “sowing a plant bed.” After my father sowed the tobacco seed he would roll a 55-gallon barrel up and down the bed to compress the soil so that it would retain moisture. But try as he might to smooth the surface, the first plants would always come up in the outline of his size 10 footprints. It was almost magical to see those first tiny pairs of leaves appear. As the plants grew, so did my father’s excitement.

“I’ve got plants as big as a dime,” he would beam.

Under that protective canvas, those tiny plants would spring out of the ground, and eventually, the weeds would come too.

“We’ve got some weeding to do,” he would say.

Leaning out over those plant bed poles to separate weeds from tobacco plants was not an easy job, and finding a place to set your foot out in the bed was nearly impossible. But the weeds had to go. And if we didn’t do a good job of weeding on the first go-a-round, we had to lick that calf again.

Copyright 2021 by Jack McCall

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