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What Goes Around, Comes Around

Vintage Egg Basket - BridgewoodPlace Etsy Shop

As they say....what goes around comes around! This is a vintage wire egg basket on sale at Etsy by BridgewoodPlace.

Just last week I saw new baskets similar to this sold in a variety of colors. But, for me, it brings back memories of working on the farm.

This is a photo of my Dad who will be 90 next month. This shot was taken by my Mother with a Kodak Brownie as he was on his way back from the barn. The film for this camera came on a roll which had to be unwound and started on a spool inside the camera. It had to be done in a dark room.

At our house, this meant a trip to the pantry which always smelled of canning jars filled with peas, corn, green beans, and tomatoes and white domestic or feed sack pillow cases filled with dark curly slices of dried apples or peaches.

There was no flash on this camera so all the photos where taken outside. Once the film was used up, it required a trip back to the pantry to remove it, hoping that no pictures were lost when the film was retrieved. The film roll would then be taken to a drug store on the next trip to town, dropped off and picked back up some time later. Don't know exactly how long this took, but I'm sure it was a week or more. I'm sad to hear that Kodak has gone out of business. The Brownie provided a way to capture so many of our outside memories))) Not a lot of pictures in the family album of us kids....but's one of the cows!

Picture taking was reserved for special occasions most of the time.....Easter dresses....trips to the zoo....first days of school.....and occasionally just an everyday photo like my Daddy....doing his chores.

We also had chicken houses. There's the famous "egg basket." We had several of them around since there were several large chicken houses on the farm. Everyday the eggs had to be gathered twice a day....once in the morning and again in the afternoon. Once they were gathered, there was a process to get them ready for storage in the cooler. The fresh eggs were gathered by basket loads, brought to the egg house, pictured in the background. It wasn't much to look at, had no air conditioning (except for the cooler room) but did have a window we could open and a door that stayed open. And, there was a radio.

Once the eggs were collected, someone in the egg house, Mother, my sisters, me , Daddy or all of us, would take the eggs from the basket and literally "sand" off the guess it......Moist rags were kept around for the really fresh stuff. During the years of working in the egg house, we went through several technology changes. Once was an "automatic" egg washer. It was a contraption filled with water which was heated....but not too hot, it wasn't allowed to get over a certain degree or it would cook the eggs. It was an agitator of sorts....filled with warm soapy water it would slowly agitate back and forth. A complete basket of eggs could just be set over in the washer. You really had to be careful that you didn't overfill it....and to be careful to set the basket of eggs over in the washer gently. If you dropped it to quickly, you broke the eggs, not a good thing. What I remember is getting a little electrical shock every time you put the basket of eggs in the washer....needless to say, I dropped a basket in on more than one occasion.

After the agitating egg washer....we had another contraption that fed the eggs through a washer that is similar to going through a car wash. It had a moving belt, you laid the eggs on it at one end, an they came out the other end all nice and clean. Course, you had to be at the other end to take the eggs off to keep them from piling up. Yes, you have can visions of Lucy and Ethel and the candy packaging skit.

My brother was small at the time, too little to be of any use in the chicken houses and it was usually our job to keep an eye on him too......he got us all into to trouble once when he put his had on the belt, caught his little finger in it and almost cut it off......"our" fault of course. He was a lot of trouble.

When I was too young to work with the eggs, I can remember my Mother working in an side room attached to the house. This egg room had a big trap door in the floor which led to a big dark hole in the ground. I guess there was concrete blocks on the floor of the hole, but I remember it had dirt walls. It was very scary, and very cool. There were steps leading down to the bottom and cases of eggs would be placed on the blocks and there would usually be some water in the very bottom of the hole. This big hole substituted for a storm cellar when the weather was really really bad.

I would watch as the eggs would be candled and weighed. The candling was for sorting out the eggs with tiny cracks that were not visible otherwise. The cracked eggs would be set aside for use in the house or sold as cracks if there were enough of them. Each egg was placed on a little scale that measured it to be small, medium large or extra large. Then the eggs were placed in single dozen egg cartons. The egg carton were especially printed with the family name. (Note: the egg scale in the photo is similar to the one used at home, the image came from EarlyAmerica Etsy Shop.)

The box used to candle the eggs, was a home made light box. It was a wooden box with a light bulb inside and a small hole on the front. The eggs were placed inside the hole and turned from side to side to check for cracks.

Every so many days, or maybe once a week or so Daddy would load up the cases of eggs in the big truck and head to Memphis to sell them to restaurants along Highway 78 and in Memphis. They all called him the "egg man." Not very often, and on a rare occasion one of us got to ride in the big truck to Memphis with him. This made for a very long day because once the eggs were all sold, he would take the empty truck to Wayne Feeds and load it up with feed to bring back home.

One of those trips to Memphis was an outstanding adventure for me. Very early one morning, Mother woke me up with just barest a whisper and said, "if you want to go to Memphis with your Daddy, get up." It was my time))) The Memphis trips started very early in the morning and the day really was pretty boring just going around to the different places and dropping off the eggs.

Around lunch time, we made one stop at a particular restaurant and on the way out, one of the cooks handed Daddy a bag in trade for a dozen eggs for her personal use. The bag contained two of the biggest barbecues I had ever seen. And then there was a stop to an orphanage. I didn't know much about orphanages or anything at the time, but I remember Daddy not allowing me to go in with him on this stop. He told me to stay outside until he returned. I was playing around on the sidewalk and I saw some little girls talking at the window on a second story of the building. I continued to play skipping up and down the sidewalk. I have no idea what I was wearing that day, but I heard the little girls say....."look at her shoes.....look at her hair..." Please understand, whatever I had on, was probably school clothes and the only pair of shoes I had other than Sunday shoes.....not dressed up for sure. My hair was long and most of the time up in pony tail with barrettes, again nothing Shirley Temple curls or anything like that. Even though I knew children in orphanages didn't have parents, I didn't comprehend how my running up and down the sidewalk freely must have looked to them. They were in an upstairs room peering out a window that had bars on it.....bars on it! I'm sure there must have been grounds in the back of the building, but I only saw the front. It had concrete lions on the gates at the front.

When the rounds were finished and all the eggs gone, he had a surprise stop to make. We were headed to the Pink Palace Museum. You can't imagine how big that building and those long steps leading up to it seemed to me. I had never been in a building so large I'm sure. I can remember going into the room with all the huge stuffed wild animals, animal heads, tusks and native artifacts. The one thing that stands out in my memory most.....was the shrunken head! I'll never forget it))) I wondered lots of times since then what it really was......but it said Shrunken Head!

Note: I could not resist googling Pink Palace Shrunken Head ....and sure enough......there are photos to be seen))) My memory serves me well)))

Well, that trip to Memphis to sell eggs was one I would never forget. Beautiful summer day, had Daddy all to myself, lots of good food and the trip to the Pink Palace to top it off. We may grow up thinking we didn't have much, and we didn't material wise....there wasn't a lot of new clothes, fancy food, trips to the movies or anything like that.....and we worked, whether it be in the chicken houses or the cotton field....we worked just like a hired hand that didn't get paid.

But every now and then......there were days like the Pink Palace......Happy Birthday Daddy!

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