Family Farm: Growing Up in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee

My folks moved from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to our new family farm in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee, in 1932 during the Depression era. My grandfather bought the farm to provide us a place to live. The house hadn’t been occupied for a year or two when we moved there. The lawn and all surroundings had grown-such sage grass, briars and weeds-it seemed as though we were living in a jungle. We soon cleaned that away, since there were seven people to do the job.

Our neighbor loaned my father a mule and a plow and we started growing corn, peas and hay, plus other garden vegetables to provide us with our livelihood. We all had chores to do to maintain a prosperous farm. Mother processed milk products and sold them. This provided a small added income for us. There was a natural pond on the farm where we sometimes fished when we found the time to do so. We also picked blackberries that grew close to the pond. Mother raised turkeys and Father raised chickens. Mother always prepared a large delicious meal for Thanksgiving and Christmas for the family and any of the relatives who wanted to visit us during the holidays. Father also raised hogs, and we had all the ham we wanted to eat. Preparing the food for winter required quite a bit of work in the summer. Mother canned everything she could to feed us during the winter months.

There is one comical incident that happened on the farm that I will never forget. My two older sisters had to wash the dishes every night after supper. If the one washing dishes got ahead of the one drying the dishes, she would open the kitchen door that led to the back porch and knock on the door three or four times. The sister in the kitchen would sing, “Who’s that knocking on my door?” The sister on the porch would answer, “I’m Barnacle Bill the Sailor.” (Do you remember that song?) Our father would yell at them, “If you don’t get those dishes done, I’m going to knock on your door.” He meant he would paddle their backsides with a wooden paddle, and boy that hurt.

We had one reward we looked forward to every year, and that was a trip to the fair in Chattanooga. The day before our planned trip, Dad would say to all of us, “OK kids, if you want to go to the fair tomorrow, you had better pick that field of peas today before I get home from work.” We worked so hard to get the job done by the time he arrived home. These memories of our wonderful life on the farm will remain with me as long as I live.

Marvin Stuart
Soddy Daisy, Tennessee

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.