The Smell of Oranges
RETHA DANIELL ALARID and WILLIE MARIE DEHAY*
THE SMELL OF ORANGES MEANT CHRISTMAS! DURING THE SUMMER
months folks who lived in the small West Texas community of El-
kins, twelve miles from Brownwood, enjoyed fresh fruit from the or-
chards and from wild-growing bushes. Peaches, plums, apricots, and
many varieties of berries were in abundance. These summer fruit were
canned, dried, preserved, or made into jelly to meet our winter needs.
We always kept a supply of apples on hand in season also; those to eat and
those for apple butter were brought home by the bushel. Apple butter
and hot biscuits liberally spread with our own freshly churned butter
were the ultimate in good eating at any meal. But oranges! -now that
was something else again! Oranges were not carried the year around in
the stores of that day, but they always appeared at Christmas time.
Today the strong aroma of orange peel brings up nostalgic memories
of Christmas on the farm. Four stockings hung by our fireplace; and
filled to the brim though they were on Christmas morning, they would
not have been complete without an orange in the very toe of each one.
These Christmas treats were savored to the final bite, and the peels were
often dried or candied and used in cooking.
Christmas on the farm, in our small community, was an exciting time
for a country-bred child. In our one-room schoolhouse the teacher was
busy drilling the children for parts in the Christmas play and teaching
them carols to sing. Mothers were busy making glistening costumes for
the "little angels." All of this work would climax with a program held
in the community church as the Christmas holidays began.
A Christmas tree, searched out and cut for the occasion by the fathers
of the children, would be standing in the church. It would be a cedar tree,
decorated with loops of shining tinsel kept from year to year, ropes of
popcorn and cranberries strung together, and paper chains made by the
school children of colored construction paper. Tinfoil, saved through-
out the whole year, would cover stars and other ornaments cut from
* Retha Daniell Alarid, of Carmichael, California, was the eldest daughter of Maybelle
and Eugene Daniell. She and her sister Willie Marie DeHay have cooperated in recording
these and other memories of their childhood. The two younger children in the Daniell
family were Eugenia and George-the only boy.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 82, July 1978 - April, 1979. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101206/. Accessed April 18, 2014.