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Sweet Potato Pie

by: Lloyd Tackitt 9/2/2014

My family, both sides, were rural Texans.  Farmers and ranchers, living largely self-sufficient lives.  They had very little money, but they were rich.  They were rich because they had enough to eat, had shelter and clothing, and eventually even indoor plumbing.  I was around before they had indoor plumbing for a few years, until I was about ten years old or so.  We drew water from a well or from the rain cistern.  The bathrooms were outhouses, and of course there was no such thing as an air conditioner, not even swamp fans.

Electronic entertainment was the radio, in later years black and white television that was tiny by today's standards.  The picture often rolled for several minutes.  Radio and TV had tubes and had to warm up before they worked.  The telephone, when they finally got one, was a crank type and on a large party line.  Winter time the living room was heated with a sheet metal wood burner.  It heated the one room only, the rest of the house being at whatever the outside temperature was.  In the summer the entire house was at whatever the outside temperature was.

There were two major forms of entertainment other than the electric kind.  Fishing and hunting.  They lived in an area where deer didn't roam so the hunting was for small game.  Quail, squirrels and rabbits primarily.  Dinner often involved picking lead shot out of the meat as you ate, you learned to be careful about biting down too hard right away.  Fish were never filleted, no one had ever heard of it and when they eventually did hear of it considered it as too wasteful and somehow shamefully lazy.

Fishing trips were mostly not in the winter, it was a warm weather activity because it consisted of sitting on a tank dam for hours at a time.  It was also a day long affair, getting up early and seining minnows for bait, going to the fishing spot and fishing all day, then coming home and cleaning the days catch just after the sun had set.  It was a slow process, one that wasn't rushed at all. 

Food was always brought along.  Breakfast was eaten before leaving the house, dinner was cooked and eaten at home, dinner being the fish caught that day.  But lunch, that was carried along and eaten outdoors.  I remember a lot of biscuit and ham sandwiches, milk that had been kept cool by using a soaked cloth to cover the container, and pies baked the night before.  Sweet potato pie was one of the usual pies, as was buttermilk pie.  Eating lunch wasn't rushed either, it could take a couple of hours, sitting in the shade during the hottest part of the day and talking slowly and quietly.  Naps often completed the mid-day repast, still waiting for the sun to drop down enough to quit broiling the brains. 

When fishing, shady spots were prime territory and went to the eldest, and some of the family were in their eighties.  Kids played, fished, played, chased grasshoppers for bait, played, fished, explored, ate, napped, fished, eventually we would swim some, down away from where the fishing was taking place.  Adults simply fished, sometimes falling asleep where they were sitting.  Burlap tow sacks were carried around and used to sit on.  Boots wee pulled off and overall pants legs rolled up, feet dangled in the water.  Brightly colored kerchiefs wiped sweat from the brows.  Men wore wide brimmed straw hats and ladies wore sun bonnets and big loose dresses. 

I love to fish to this day, but somehow it was better then.  It was a whole family thing, slow paced, and laid back. It didn't resemble the way I fish now in anything except the object of catching fish.  But I remember, always will remember, how I got started fishing.  Cane pole, string, cork, hook and minnow.  And sweet potato pie. 

Me fishing as a kid.
Blog content © Lloyd Tackitt
Member comments
anglerwannabe, CO   9/3/2014 4:30:47 PM
many may not know a tank is a man made pond. Cane poles, that brings back memories. My first fishing experiences were with cane poles and old zebco's
Lloyd Tackitt (Lloyd Tackitt), TX   9/3/2014 6:40:51 PM
I forget its mostly a Texas word. Stock tanks, generally shortened down to tank, are excavated out to hold water for cattle. Generally they're in a low spot or sometimes a dammed up draw. On average they're probably about a hundred foot across but some qualify as small lakes. They were rarely stocked with fish but fish would somehow get in them. The best theory I've heard is that wading birds will have fish eggs stick to their legs and carry them along to the next place they land. I have no idea if that's true though. But I have seen plenty of fish in tanks that were so far from anywhere that I can see it as reasonable. Most tanks had a name, like Spunky's tank or Bennet's tank, or the pump tank, or the minnow tank, or Six's tank. Made it easier to know which tank was being discussed.
Lloyd Tackitt
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