Eva Jasper took her granddaughters Alice and Marce to Quitman, MS every summer for about two weeks to visit Amanda Jasper (Grandma Mandy), their great-grandmother. Alice had mixed feelings about the summer visits to Quitman. I think the girls really enjoyed spending time with their grandmother and great-grandmother, but Quitman was so different from Mobile, AL. Quitman was truly the country!
Alice remembers riding the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio (GM&O) Railroad to Quitman. The train was like a greyhound bus that made many stops along the way. People could bring chickens, goats or sheep on the train and Alice was afraid of anything with feathers. See the GM&O map below. When Momma Eva, Alice and Marce arrived in Quitman, Grandma Mandy came to pick them up in a horse and buggy.
Grandma Mandy had eight children and 40 acres of land (Dan Jasper acquired the land without a mortgage because he met the requirements of the Homestead Act). Before he died, Dan Jasper divided the land among the children. Sam Jasper, Mandy’s son, grew cotton as his main crop. It was always cotton picking time during the summer visit. One summer, Alice and Marce got a chance to pick cotton. Each person had their own row. Sam’s daughter got out of her row to instruct Alice on how to pick cotton to avoid sticking her fingers with the cotton bud. When Sam saw his daughter get out of her row, he swung his leather strap, hitting her across the back, and directed her to get back to picking cotton in her row. After that, Alice and Marce lost all desire to pick cotton!
Grandma Mandy used her horse and buggy to go to town to buy a 25 lb sack of flour, a sack of meal, sugar, etc. She didn’t need to buy meat or vegetables because of the farm. Mandy grew her own vegetables, and she raised a rooster, chickens, and pigs. She cooked biscuits and bread daily, made cakes, and other items that required flour or meal. Wild turkeys roamed the area so Grandma Mandy would periodically have turkey for dinner. Alice especially remembers the turkey cooking because they smelled and tasted so good!
Grandma Mandy lived in a big house with an open hallway. The house had no front or back doors, but the rooms inside the house had doors. Alice was thankful for the bedroom doors. When she woke up in the morning, she would peer out of the bedroom door to make sure the rooster and chickens were not in the area! The restroom was outside (outhouse with one hole) located far away from the house! There were no street lights, just lanterns which could be used to guide your way at night.
On Sundays, the family went to church. Mandy packed a lunch and dinner for her family because they would not return home until dark! The family had to walk to church. They left the house by 9:30 am for an 11:00 am service. They attended multiple church services and everything was over by 10:00 pm. The family walked with lanterns in a single file, in a narrow path, with the adults in front and the children following.
When you were going to someone’s house, the distance was described as being so many hoots and a holler away. The distance was estimated by someone hooting to the top of their voice. If no one answered, you would continue to walk forward. After walking an estimated time, you would hoot again. If you got a response, then you would holler their name. This person was considered to be two hoots and a holler away.
The visits to Quitman always ended with Alice returning home to Mobile sick. I’m sure she enjoyed the time with her family, but Alice is not a country gal!
Between The Dashes