Before people could watch a movie on their mobile phone while walking down the street or driving to the store, there actually was a time when, if you wanted some fun, you had to make it yourself.

Outdoor activities were popular because they were mostly free. You could split white oak and make baskets and chair bottoms until the cows came home. Uncle Guy Phillips used some of his free spring Sundays to wander through the woods looking for a baby crow just bumped out of the nest.

Guy took the crow home, fed it, raised it, split its tongue and taught it to talk.

There were fish to be caught, slingshots to be made, paper dolls to be cut out of magazines. The list of home-grown entertainment activities was endless but you had to do it yourself.

Some activities were social in nature but churches frowned on dancing.

My father played in a five-member local string band and regularly played on someone’s front porch or in a barn.

He said, in his later years, that it wasn’t his fault if people wanted to get up and dance but he was not playing for a dance, only entertainment.

I don’t know that his description would have held up with the local church one mile away. The congregation was known for “turning out” members for dancing, according to him, most of the people at the “entertainment” were members of the church.

In rural areas people used what they had. My grandparents told of attending a “corn shucking,” in which a room was cleared of furniture and filled with un-shucked, dry corn.

Young people started at a door and shucked their way through the room. The first to find a red cob received a prize.

After the corn was shucked they could walk around the room while listening to a string band.

Around Thanksgiving people brought in neighbors to help cut and grind sugar cane, then boiled it down into syrup. The first one stung by a yellow jacket got a prize.

Around September through November, depending upon how far north they lived, church groups and communities held peanut boilings.

This is one of the few entertainments that required some planning.

Fires were built under cast-iron wash pots filled with salted water. Green peanuts were dumped into the pots and allowed to boil until the shell softened.

Young couples leaned against each other to dull the snap of a fall night and ate boiled peanuts. They also sang, played word games and whatever young couples do.

I don’t know where she found it but the Kansas Woman came home with a bag of “raw” peanuts. They were just peanuts that had not been roasted but were not really “green” either.

I let them soak over-night in salt water and the next morning let the Instant Pot hold them for just over an hour.

The result was a pleasing step back in time: Southern Caviar.

Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at joenphillips@hotmail.com.

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