Tag Archives: memories

The Saga of Sam Brown’s Wedding Table

When I was a very little girl, I used to ride my horse over to my grandfather’s ranch from our house. At that point our families ranches reached from one end of Indian Valley to the other. It was still a big deal to be allowed to ride alone that far, at least it felt like it to little me. Little did I know I was carefully watched the whole time by my Parents and Grandfather.

Pre-ride over to my Grandpa's ranch. Notice I didn't use stirrups. I didn't like them.

Pre-ride over to my Grandpa’s ranch. Notice I didn’t use stirrups. I didn’t like them.

I was my Grandfather’s favorite grandchild, and he had many. He made sure I knew it. He purchased my first 4-H pig. That was remarkable because he was not known for going out of his way, in this case to a fair, for his grandchildren. He gave me my first bottle calf that ended up being a reserve grand champion. He always kept candy hidden in his unused dishwasher for when I would come over and secretly sneak it to me. He threw a fit when I got my horse Dusty D, said it was too much horse for me. He was right, of course, but I couldn’t be stopped.

So it was a treat when I was allowed to make the mile trek through the valley, I had to open and close big gates, and jump ditches on my trusty steed, all alone. When I would arrive at my Grandpa’s house he would make a huge deal of it! He would always act like I had just completed a huge day’s work. It would make me pleased as punch to have him be proud and make a big deal over me. When I got off my horse, and put him in the horse pasture, Grandpa would have a big slice of cold watermelon with salt on it waiting for me. We would sit on the porch and visit for a while, waiting for my Dad to come get me. During these visits he would tall me stories about the family.

My Great Uncle Sam, my Great Aunt Ella, my great grandpa (who built the table) Sam, and my Grandpa Fletcher.

My Great Uncle Sam, my Great Aunt Ella, my great grandpa (who built the table) Sam, and my Grandpa Fletcher. Behind them is the big house.

He would talk about his Dad, his Mom, the ranch. These are very cherished memories to me. I felt very connected to people who died years before I was even a thought. One story in particular was my favorite. Probably because there was a gift attached to it. One day he asked me to come on in the big house and look at this table. He told me it was a special table because his Daddy made it long ago, by hand! His Daddy, Sam F. Brown, was born in 1883, right after his parents moved from Tennessee (when I asked my Dad about his grandfather now, he said he talked funny, so I am assuming he had some sort of Southern Drawl left from his parents. This tickles me to no end. Pretty much all I want in life is a southern accent. He also said the Great Grandpa was fond of saying “if you can’t make it, you can’t have it”).

The porch where my Grandpa and I would sit and eat melon. Right inside and to the left was where my table lived.

The porch where my Grandpa and I would sit and eat melon. Right inside and to the left was where my table lived.

My Grandpa showed me this table, it was right against the front door, covered with tools of our trade, buckets, cattle medicine paraphernalia, jackets, etc. He told me that one day this table would be at my wedding, it would be mine. I think he already knew at this point I was going to be the only child and the one that was to be heir to the bulk his estate someday. After my Grandpa died when I was 12, we moved into the big house. The table was left where it was, safe.

We moved out of that home when I was around 20, but that is for another blog. We left some furniture there mainly because at the time we had a travel trailer, then a mini home with no room for a large table. During my mid to late 20’s, I had a falling out with my Dad, and got an off the ranch job. According my to research almost everyone, for generations, have done this, even my Dad! During this time my wedding table was lent out without my knowledge or permission. Since I made it a point not to go into the old home except once in all those years, I didn’t notice until this summer, that my table was gone! The horror!

I immediately asked who had it. I felt relief when I learned a neighbor that watched me grow up had it, mere miles from our ranch! In fact, I can see their house from ours! They borrowed it for their daughter’s birthday party. I wrote a letter explaining I wanted my table back. They responded that as soon as they saw the document that granted me power of attorney over the ranch trust, they would “gladly comply”. The document was sent that day, and I was ecstatic that my table would soon be mine again, as I now have my own home and a place for it! I’m not quite ready for it to be at my wedding, lol. 

If you let your half naked kid ride someone like a horse, you probably trust them with your kid's wedding table.

If you let your half naked kid ride someone like a horse, you probably trust them with your kid’s wedding table.

Family history and heirlooms are incredibly important to me. I live in my Great Aunt’s old home. My coffee table was made by my Great Grandfather. My cast iron pans are from my Grandpa. I traveled back to Tennessee to see the plantation where we came from. I work and live on the same ranches as my ancestors, I’ve spent days and days researching them. This is something I will fight for, because it’s my history.

My Great Grandpa Sam, Great Great Aunt Brydie and Great, Great Uncle Albert, 1892.

My Great Grandpa Sam, Great Great Aunt Brydie and Great, Great Uncle Albert, 1892.


Sadly, despite a polite letter asking for it back, and subsequent daily check in’s, my table is still being held hostage. I think we are on day 10 or 11. I’m heartbroken over this. The worst thing about it is I don’t know why, they are completely ignoring me. I didn’t even get a wave when I drove by them on the road, and everyone in Indian Valley waves when you drive by, it’s good manners!

Here is the thing, instead of being heartbroken and wallowing, I am being proactive. I am going to do my best to get it back or at least find out what happened to it. The people who have it, were considered family at one point, I’m sure that’s why my Dad felt like it was ok to let them borrow my table. They are friends with me on social media. They drive by our ranch everyday. In fact I’m even a partial owner of their ranch. So this makes no sense at all. Even, baby Oprah forbid, if I don’t get my table back, I’m leaving a digital diary for my future ancestors. They will know I tried. Hard.

Hopefully this is just a big misunderstand or miscommunication and my next blog will be me showing off my wedding table! Stay tuned!

 

On a related note.

 

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Grandma Halsey’s Holiday Punch 

This doesn’t even count as a recipe. It’s more of a happy memory. When I taste this punch, I am 8 years old again. It’s Christmas, I’m surrounded by my playing cousins. This punch, or a variation, was served at all family gatherings for most of my youth. And I looked forward to it! It wasn’t a proper family gathering until I felt nauseous from happily drinking too much of this.
Now that I’m an adult, I make variations of it for all kinds of events. When I do make it, people always, without fail, ask me about it. Seems like punch is one of those old timey things that we don’t make that often anymore. Which is too bad, punch is awesome! In an effort to make punch great again, I’m sharing my basic recipe.
Now remember, this recipe is just a starting point. It can be altered to fit your tastes, preferences and budget. Basically as long as you use frozen juice concentrate, ginger ale and sherbet, you’re gonna get the desired results and specific mouth feel. But you can experiment with different juices, add fresh fruit!

3 basic ingredients make such a fun thing!

3 basic ingredients make such a fun drink!

Grandma Halsey’s Holiday Punch

  • 2 litter ginger ale
  • 1 frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/2 gallon sherbert

In a punch bowl or pincher, allow sherbert and juice concentrate to thaw for 20 minutes. Pour in ginger ale.  Gently mix all ingredients. Serve over ice.

Bam. Done. If you use rainbow sherbert you and don’t mix it up, you can call it unicorn punch and kids LOVE that. In you use orange juice, orange sherbert and add vanilla vodka adults LOVE that (think dreamcicle ice cream bar!). I’m fairly certain it is impossible to find a bad combination here. So enjoy, go wild and please serve at your next family gathering and drink one for me!

Unicorn punch!

Unicorn punch!

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Chokecherry Jelly

A few weeks ago, my Dad was reminiscing with me about family history and family members long dead and gone. I was lucky enough to meet some of these people when I was small. I have some hazy memories of certain encounters. I am constantly trying to strengthen these memories by pestering people who remember more than I do, or connecting by recipes, because taste and smell seem to bring memories galloping back.

I battled beard and mountain lions for these chokecherries! See the broken limbs?  From a bear!

I battled bears and mountain lions for these chokecherries! See the broken limbs? From a bear!

My Dad was telling me about cutting firewood for his Aunties and doing various “chores” for them like picking fruit, killing wild game, etc. Dad mentioned he used to pick a lot of chokecherries and gooseberries for jelly making. Immediately I perked up and demanded to know more.

This is what chokecherries look like.

This is what chokecherries look like.

I had vague memories of riding my horse and picking something for jelly when I was very small. I was little, therefore, super short, and couldn’t reach the fruit. But, like any enterprising young ranch kid, you found ways around that. I can’t remember much about this memory, like what berry, how old I was, or who we were picking them for, but I do remember riding my horse Sequoia.

Some of the biggest bear poo I've ever seen. I had all my cowdogs with me, just in case!

Some of the biggest bear poo I’ve ever seen. I had all my cowdogs with me, just in case!

I spent so much time on our mountain ranch this summer I was unable to devote as much time to my passions of gardening and canning. However when Dad taught me what a chokecherry bush looked like, I knew I had the opportunity to make up for lost canning time! During the middle of the afternoon, when it was too hot to do much else, I picked chokecherries, lots and lots.

Seriously, I went overboard. Typical.

Seriously, I went overboard. Typical.

 

Chokecherry Jelly

  • 3 cups chokecherry juice
  • 6 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 box (2 pouches) liquid pectin
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter (to prevent foaming)

Pour juice, sugar and butter into large heavy saucepan and stir to mix. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Bring to a full, rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir and skim off foam.  Add almond extract. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal with two-piece canning lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

This jelly is delicious. The almond extract really adds a lovely layer of flavor. Since I picked so many chokecherries I am attempting to make wine. Stay tuned as I am just a few more weeks from trying it, and if it’s good, I’ll show you how I did it!

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