Hello sweet friends. Today we are continuing our Travels in the South series with our great friends Bill and Jean who are the parents of Shoko and Kali from Canadian Cats.
The first week we posted, we posted of their arrival and eating at a local seafood restaurant. You can read about that here. The second week, we posted about a fantastic restaurant we all went to called Fogo de Chao. You can read about that here.
This week, we are going to talk about a tour that we took of a place called Stately Oaks. Stately Oaks is a historical Antebellum home located in Jonesboro, Georgia and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was originally constructed in 1839 by Mr. Whitmill Allen who sold his home to Robert McCord in 1858 and then moved to Tyler, Texas.
It is located in Jonesboro, Georgia. Does that sound familiar to you? Jonesboro is the very city where Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind had to pay the taxes on Tara. Even though Tara only existed in Margaret Mitchell’s imagination, she placed Tara in Clayton County where she had visited relatives who lived on a large plantation south of Jonesboro. Many of the stories she heard as a child are in the movie.
Now, Stately Oaks is open for tours and on this day (mom, Jean and Bill) decided to tour the home. The down side of the tour was we could not pictures of the inside of the home which was a real bummer. The start of the tour starts off on a CD and you listen to the history of the home while in the bottom level. Then the tour moves you into the sitting room, the dining room and the entertainment room. Then the tour moves to the upper levels of the home.
There are some items to point out which is interesting to know. Back during this time, tea was expensive and kept in a locked box with only the woman of the home having the key. Sugar was kept in cones and was brown, not the normal white sugar we are more accustomed to today.
Also, celery was a sign of money in the southern days. There was actual celery jars – kind of like the one in this picture – that were put on dinner tables to show the status of wealth in the family. Can you imagine that? It makes you want to go out, buy some celery and put in a jar on your table doesn’t it? Who knew this could be a sign of wealth… especially in today’s market at what $0.99 cents a bundle – LOL.
They also didn’t season meats when they cooked them. They had little individual salt bowls at every table setting. The mistress of the home would pass around the big cluster of salt and individuals would put some in their salt bowls to season their meats. Brings new meaning to, “Can you pass me the salt”.
One of the things we all fell in love with was the courting candle. I think it would be a blast to have one of these today. Jean bought one and trust me – mom is going back to get one as well. You see how they are made in the picture? The father could lower or high the amount of candle that would be burned during the courtship of their daughter. Once the candle burned to that desired place, the man that was courting the young lady had to leave for the night. What a concept huh? Such an easy and simple method to watch over a courtship. Of course, mom says she would use hers to show daddy actually how much time he had to be silly for a given amount of time. That’s my mom – snorts!
Now let’s talk about the upstairs of the home. The day that they went on the tour it was a little hot outside so you can imagine the inside of the home. Mom started getting the vapors downstairs and had to sit out a bit for some of the tour. Now, once mom was feeling a bit better, she ventured up the stairs as well.
Stairs in southern homes are steep. You see the average woman was around 4’11” and the average man was like around 5’7″ – not very tall for the likes of these days. And the stairs go straight up it seems with not much railing. Can you imagine as a woman in full attire (hoop skirt, bodice squeezing the heck out of you, tiny shoes, etc.) walking up stairs? In fact, at the top of these stairs, there was usually a chaise or chair of some sort for the women. Because believe it or not, sometimes they would pass out from the shear heat of exhaustion. Well, that was almost like my mom. She made it up the stairs, started having a hard time breathing and had to rush back downstairs and out of the door before she was hit with the vapors once again in a bad way. Don’t ask.
One thing that mom did notice upstairs in a glassed case was mourning tear jar. When the woman of the home was going through mourning, she would collect her tears in a jar. Once it was full, she would then close the top for her mourning. Forever, she would have the tears of her sorrow that she cried for her loved one.
Now the kitchen of this home had been redone more modern and we didn’t get to see any of that. But then again, the kitchen of the home back in the day really wasn’t a ‘kitchen’. It was more of a warming room. You see food was prepared in a ‘shack’ behind the home. This shack would host a fireplace, a table to prepare food and you can imagine the heat from the summer or the cold from the winter creeping in through the boards of the walls. The food was then brought into the home to the warming kitchen and stayed there until the woman of the home motioned for it to be served at the dinner table.
So much wonderful history was learned this day about the ways of the south. Can you imagine doing some of these things and living like this today? I hope you join us next week my friends as we continue our series of Travels in the South.