Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on May 23, 1976 · Page 76
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 76

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 23, 1976
Page 76
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Page 76 article text (OCR)

f V -May 23,1976 Sorghum Making Sweet Story OK of the roort exciting evert* for West Virpma famiUe* a hatf-ce*t»ry Jfo was the arrival of the molaaes man. Traveling from farm to farm, he made bis rounds m those cool, criip days of early autumn whet a tilt of frost hung in the air. Sorfhym-makinc came at the bwtiett time of the year for the farmer. There was con to cut aid shock, apples to pick and hop to bttcher. M the coming of the molasses man held a special interest for ev- eryooe-especially the children. They watched as the molasses man set up his primitive factory, a cane mill, boil- ii* pan and firebox, on a level spot near the field where the stalks of caae stood stripped of their leaves. The molasses man and Ms helpers worked quickly and efficiently. One crew member cut the caae stalks and carried them to the mill. The second man fed the stalks thrown the mill and carried the fresh juice to the boil- in| pan where the molasses man watched his bubbling brew. The smell of hickory smoke permeated the air while white plumes of smoke rose from the stubby flue at the far end of the firebox. The boiling pan'and firebox were a complete unit, measuring about four feet wide and six feet long. Mounted on runners, the pan and firebox stood about three feet high. The cane stalks were fed between the two vertical rollers of the mill, or juicer, and the pale, green liquid was collected in a pan below. A horse, or team of horses, was fastened to a lead pole which in turn was fastened to a larger pole. As the animals walked in an endless circle, they turned the rollers, squeezing every drop of juice from the caM aad k«riag oaty a flit strip of pulp. Every few minutes, fresh j«ke was added to the first section of the bottiag paa The moLuMs man moved hack and forth along the side of the pan. keeatag a watchful eye on the boiling liquid. The pan was divided into seven or eight sections, each about eight inches wide and three inches deep. The sections were connected by sliding gates. The molasses man coaxed the liquid through one gate after another, using his skimming paddle to move it slowly but surely toward the flue end of the box where the fire was the hottest He not only moved the liquid through the various sections, but also kept the fire at the right temperature and skimmed off the foamy, gritty residue that floated to the top. This residue was tossed into the skimming note, a narrow trench due near the boiling pan. The molasses man had to have a perfect sense of timing. If he failed to draw off the finished molasses at the exact moment of perfection, his final product would not be of the proper consistency. When he judged the syrup to be just right, testing its color and the way it dripped from his skimming paddle, he pulled the long-handled wooden plug from the drain hole at the bottom of the pan and caught the syrup in a jug or jar. The gates to the next section were then opened and the process started all over again. After school, the children would stop by the cane mill to watch the horse plodding his weary circle and venture close to the boiling pan to dip spoons or little wooden paddles into the hot molasses to savor its golden sweetness. A boy might feel quite grown up if he were allowed to feed the caae stalks into the hungry jaws of iht griaftaf rollers or carry the juke buckets to the cooking pan. Invariably the youngsters ended their adventure by chasing one another arowid the Aimmings hole. The pursuit becaoK a game that did not end until some hapiess person fell into the slimy hole or was pushed in by villainous intent And all the time, they were having visions of pipfcg hot pancakes smothered in molasses, dreaming of molasses popcorn balls or a molasses taffy pull. . A taffy pull was a social event otUMiMy for the purpose of making homemade cat- dy. A boy and a fM might have ta making candy, but the message of fun ia? creased by having several couples involved. A few pints of molasses were boiled in a kettle until the syprup became heavy. Then it was allowed to cool until a double handful could be lifted from the mass. The' doughy mixture was passed back and forth, from hand to hand, in a rope that by some miracle began to whiten and stiffen after a few minutes. Sometimes a boy might drop the rope around a girl's neck in a well-conceived stratagem to get better acquainted. After awhile, the candy ropes were laid out on plates to harden and then be broken into sticks. By this time, the happy couples were ready for a square dance, or some other kind of parlor game. Today, the molasses man has disappeared from most of West Virginia. He took one of the pleasures of country living with him. . . Molasses Festival in Arnoldtburg keeps old harvest gala alive. Photo by Tom Evans. Craft Fairs Always Fun Located in a sylvan dell away from the humdrum of today's living, our fair is a place for relaxation and pleasure. It's a colorful patchwork of hill country heritage: tangy scents of kettle^cooked apple butter, simmering sassafras.tea, barbecued chicken, and the woodsy smell of country ham. . . the melodious sound of mountain dulcimers, the twangy tantalizing tunes of fiddles, guitar, and banjo:.. sights of colorfully-clad folk skillfully fashioning craft items as it was done in the past... yvui-soothing atmosphere in a languid lakeside setting. . Come and enjoy West Virginia's fastest- growing annual attraction. Always over the Fourth of July weekend, the Mountain State Art and Craft Fair gives you a relaxing rustic flavor, clean country air, wide- open spaciousness, easy, plentiful parking, and a contentment you'll always remember. ' If your stomach grumbles, try some ·; buckwheat cakes with maple syrup and hog sausage, or brown beans and corn-.' bread, or barbecued chicken, com on the- cob, or home-cured ham or homemade ice cream. There is something going on from 10 a. m. to til 9 p..m. every day: Exhibits, demonstrations, music, square dancing, lectures on mountain music, crafts, and '. mountain heritage. And the food concessions are always open. Our fair is purely West Virginia. All participants are from the confines of our Mountain State. Nearly 200 artists and ·craftsmen are here to show their handicrafts, to demonstrate for you, and to answer your questions. We are a friendly folk, and we want you to feel at home when you visit our fair. We want you to remember us, with pleasure, and our Heritage from the Hills. Camp-In. Plenty of primitive camping sites exist in the surrounding area. Motel Accommodations. Quite a few motels are located in the area. On-the-spot reservations are available in Charleston. Pick-Ins Evenings, old and young alike are invited to bring their fiddles-July 2, banjos - July 3, dulcimers - July 4, and bagpipes - July 5. to take part in old-time musicfests. . . Cultural Heritage. Mountain music is played at one of three areas all hours of the day. Crafts, demonstrations, heritage lectures, music, and folk dancing are offered morning, afternoon, and evening in the Mountain Heritage tent ADMISSION All the excitement and pleasure of the fair is yours for one small admission fee C.OO for adults. $.50 for children 12 years or under. Group rates are available for groups ot 10 or more by writing Mountain State Art t Craft Fair. Cedar Lakes, Ripley, WV KTrl. Demonstrations, exhibits, folk dancing, roomUin music, and heritage events are an included m this one charge. SEE WEST VIRGINIA VIA SUZUKI Come In And See The Wide Selection of Suzuki Motorcycles We Have In Stock din Mftfe ivi ^^^ ^* ^^ ^^^^ PARK TIPS WANTS YOU TO. . TS100M Regular $6 5 5 SALE $ PRICE TS100 Regular $909 SALE $ PRICE 185M K TIRE CO. WE B CANS HAVE A RIGHT T( ROAD-GRIP, A SMOOTH ECONOMY LONG Tf JEVEAMERI- POWERFUL IAD1ALRIDE, TS185 TS125M Regular Price $785 Regular ^ $965 $ SALEPMCE GT-185 v.ivXvAvx-x-x-Kvxw^ra^ TCIOOM Regular $669 TCI 00 PRICE Complete PorU and Services "'550 AND MICHELIN X 15 PRICED RIGHT! PLUS EXPERT CAR SERVICE · Front End Alignment Repair · Complete Broke Repair Service · Wheel Balancing · Shock Absorbers . Exhaust Systems · Batteries ·AT YOUNG SINCE 1164 Stunk! Cycles INC. CENTER AVMUMU »we dont make a second best 1 Pewer Iqitpt. CtNTft I 32? WestWoshingtonSt, (Across From Bream Memorial Church) PHONS 344-3509 or 343-5584

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