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The Kings of Oak Springs, Episode 7, Sunday Neighborhood Dinner Gathering

Updated on June 2, 2014
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Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

He brought a basket of apples

The basket of apples may have looked like these (without the stickers, of course!).
The basket of apples may have looked like these (without the stickers, of course!). | Source

Plans were laid for a larger Sunday dinner than first suggested

When Karl King and Thurkill Dent, neighboring farmers along the west end of Patton Road, had their first discussion outside the General Merchandise store on Saturday, the dinner gathering Karl mentioned with the new Yokum family on the ridge south of the King place did come up. Karl had invited the Dent family to join them, as well. Thurkill offered to brings some extra frying chickens over, early, if Karl would accept them. After some discussion, Karl agreed that he was still short on chickens, and that would make a fine addition to the meal they had planned. Thurkill also offered to bring a dozen or so apples. They then discussed how they had been picked the prior fall from the "wild orchard" on the northeast corner of the Hamby place - now the King farm, of course. Karl said he welcomed the apples, and would have to learn more about that situation.

Back home on Saturday afternoon, among the tasks to be done was to assure the place was "spruced up" as much as possible for visitors, and that space would be available for eating with three families - the Yokum's were four, the Dent's were five, and the King's were six. The King family, of course, were still living out of their tent, so this posed some interesting challenges. Karl had already removed all the old lumber from the house site, separated by "reusable" and other. He now worked with the "other" pile to construct some rough tables, benches and other usable sitting places. He'd planned to do this, but the Sunday gathering hurried up the action by a bit.

Early Sunday morning, Thurkill was true to his word, appearing with several chickens, the apples, and some preserved items that his wife, Neva, had insisted he bring along. He stayed a bit and helped Karl and Katherine in the early preparations of some of the chickens for her to cook for the noon meal. Everyone would enjoy some good fried chicken.

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Hard to beat a Fried-Chicken Dinner

Chicken frying in corn oil
Chicken frying in corn oil | Source

The Dent and Yokum families arrived at the King farm as mid-day approached

Darrell and Fanny Yokum, along with Junior and Missy, arrived on foot from the south, across the creek. Fanny had brought two fresh loaves of bread she had made in her dutch oven. The pleasant odor of fresh bread accompanied their arrival. Karl had just introduced his family to the Yokums when the Dent's arrived from the north and west from their farm. They were introduced as Thurkill and Neva, along with seven-year-old Donald, four-year-old Rachel, and one-year-old Peter. They all made quite an active gathering with fifteen people all together. The ladies immediately gathered to help finish the meal preparation with Katherine, including her daughter Kate. Neva held onto Peter, but the other six younger children were soon playing their own games. With ages ranging from four to ten, it didn't take them long to break into the three older boys and three younger girls. Keith went with the men over to take a closer look at the foundation on which Karl planned to build their house.

Karl said that he had decided to build the half of the house nearest their tent site first, as shelter. They would continue to use their campsite as their kitchen, into the summer, before they finished the back half which would include the kitchen and a new fireplace on the far end. As he talked, Karl was interested in the comments that Darrell and Thurkell each had. Keith was careful to just listen. Karl mentioned having met with Simeon to get ready to make his first order of lumber from the mill. Thurkill commented that what little dealings he had with Simeon were very positive, and they talked about that a bit. Darrell was taking in the conversation carefully, as he was totally new to the area, of course. Both Darrell and Thurkill offered to come help when it was time to raise the walls and do those things that needed manpower. Karl thanked them for that, and said he expected to have a few others involved, as well.

Everyone worked together so that the noon meal came together nicely and each family enjoyed sharing what the others had contributed. "Pot luck" meals were a part of the traditions of each family and some of the conversations revolved around the similarity and the differences each had experienced with those traditions. Even though the Yokum family had come from the south, and the Dent and King families from the north, they found they actually had much more in common than their minor differences of habits and traditions.

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An Apple Orchard - all cleaned up

A mature apple orchard with nice green grass among the trees
A mature apple orchard with nice green grass among the trees | Source

Afternoon activities followed the patterns set in the late morning

As they "cleaned up," as well as later on, the women-folk's conversations included talk of who each had met in town and what they each knew of other neighbors, children, babies, schooling, and such. Since each had been there differing lengths of time, each tidbit learned from the others was useful to them all the way around. It was a pleasant surprise that the children, again, seemed to entertain themselves well, in their two groupings. The ladies were each especially pleased with that, so that they could continue their chatting.

The men decided to take a walk along the road down to the east, beyond and alongside Karl's first field to where that "wild orchard" was located. Karl knew it was there, of course, but had not really gotten to examine it closely, himself. With the other two men, and Keith, it made a great opportunity to look it over in some detail, and to get ideas and suggestions the others had.

The Hamby's had only been on the place for a couple of years when the war had sent them away from the land. But, in addition to the house they had built and the fields they had planted, they had left the start of a fine orchard. This was now fifteen or so years later, of course. The trees that had survived, were fully grown, in rows, within sort of a triangle in the corner of the property. There were spaces fairly obvious where trees they had planted had not survived, but there were not a lot of those spaces. There were also volunteer trees that, over time, had grown from fallen fruit seeds. There were apple trees, peach trees, walnut trees, mulberry trees and a few they could not readily identify this time of year. There appeared to be a total of over fifty fruit trees in the orchard. The men discussed the best processes and timing of trimming the trees, clearing some of the underbrush away to let the trees mature best, identifying useful new growth, and related topics. They were surprised how quickly the afternoon passed away and it was time to get back to the rest of their families.

As the Dent and Yokum families departed, they each expressed a desire to meet again, and to continue this new "neighborhood tradition" they had begun this day.

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Note from the author

This is the seventh episode of this short story series set in the Ozarks Mountain setting of “The Homeplace Saga” family saga of historical fiction. This story begins in 1876, following the time period (1833-1875) of the forthcoming “Founding of the Homeplace” collection of short stories. Some of these earlier stories are published on The Homeplace Saga blog, found at the link, below.

“The Homeplace Saga” historical fiction family saga stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”

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      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I suppose that makes me a creature of the past. Ok with me, Thanks! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Reading your series is like stepping through a porthole into the past. Well done my friend.