A while back someone reminded me that there are a lot of stories that Mammy (my grandmother on my mother's side) told me that no one else who is still around knows.
She used to tell me a story when I'd go to bed at night -- sitting on the side of the big tall bed (the one that lives at my house now), in the dark with just a little light coming in from down the hall, and she'd talk about her girlhood -- where they lived and what their life was like
So I've decided that every so often it would be good for me to share these stories, and it's interesting that in a lot of rural areas nothing has changed about how this is done
In the fall, after the harvest, they would make molasses
She would talk about taking the cane and putting it in a big long pan over the fire
She described the pan as having little "doors" between the dividers in the pan, saying "the cane went into one end to cook and by the time it had been moved and pushed down the pan to the last section it was molasses"
Since she said cane and I had seen sugar cane in the grocery store occasionally, I thought that was what they were growing
I realize now that it was actually one of the varieties of sorghum -- they were making sorghum molasses -- they used it to sweeten cooking and to spread on bread -- they didn't keep bees, they had sorghum
Her story makes the process sound easy, it really takes hours and hours of work even before the cane can go into the pan to start cooking.
Those must have been sweet memories indeed for her, and it must have been before she was 14 years old, because her father died in 1910 when she was 14.
(NOTE: this post is being written on May 18, 2010 --- EXACTLY 100 YEARS after his death -- and no, I didn't plan that!!)
No wonder there was always a jar of molasses at Mammy's house -- and I learned to love it -- just stir it together with a little butter and spread it on a piece of warm toast