Texian Stomping Grounds Page: 29
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"HOPING OUT" IN EAST TEXAS
each other for a relaxed moment since perhaps the summer
revival, gossiped and sampled the syrup, comparing its flavor
with last year's run from the same land. Those with "fitten"
teeth chewed a stalk of cane; all would make repeated trips to
the barrel for a cup of cold cane juice, the exotic taste of which
cannot be compared with that of any other drink. The more
adventurous whittled a paddle from a cane peeling and skimmed
the leathery foam, or "buckskin," from the syrup-pot. Its candy-
like flavor was delicious. The folks gathering at night were a
part of the cane-grind, and customarily they were welcome. Some-
times they came from miles around, and there were few that
did not engage several gallons of syrup to be delivered later
Uncle Barney is dead now, but his place at the pan has been
taken by others, and the passing years have seen little change in
the method he used in getting all to pitch in and help so that
everybody would have a year's supply of sweetening.
The custom of taking payment in kind and swapping work
is not confined to the making of syrup. "Two heads are better
than one" and "Many hands can do wonders," are sayings fre-
quently heard in the piney woods. If a man gets behind with
his crop and "gets in the grass" because of too much rain or sick-
ness, or because of the simple lack of help, it is customary for him
to invite all his neighbors, men and women, over to give him
a day's work to catch up. He sets a convenient time far enough
ahead for all to be prepared to accept. Each will bring his hoe
or plowtools. A good dinner will be laid for all. An ox in the
ditch is the only excuse for a neighbor's not coming, for it is
understood that the farmer in need will pay each back in kind
with a day's work at lay-by, gathering time, or during the winter
at wood-cutting or clearing land. This is a very practical form
of barter where there is little cash money. And it is used to
perform a multitude of lesser tasks such as splitting rails or mak-
ing fence posts, where two men are required to drag a cross-cut
saw and others to split and haul.
Hog-killing especially involves a great amount of extra help
in the butchering, scraping off the hair after the shoat has been
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Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964. Texian Stomping Grounds, book, 1941; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc67663/m1/37/: accessed January 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.