Published Thursday, September 16, 1897 in The Observer, Fayetteville, NC
E. J. Hale Editor and Proprietor - E. J. Hale, Jr., Business Manager

Mr. Deming Writes of the Past

Shared by Christine Meinert Spencer    Posted September 12, 2008 by Myrtle Bridges


Court week was of much importance in my younger days, not altogether in the trial of cases, etc., but as a 
general meeting of the people of the surrounding country, who would come to see old friends and make new ones, 
as well as attending court as jurors, etc. They came mostly on horse-back, and, as a matter of course, that 
"pair of indispensable saddle-bags," which contained rations, and often a "wee drop of the critter." In those 
days anybody was licensed to sell it, in any quantity, above a quart; bars, taverns, and tipling-shops who sold 
by the small, were licensed, and sold in any quantity. Ten cents a quart was the universal price for whisky. 
There were plenty of other kinds of liquors, but whisky was mostly drunk, especially by the Scotch, and they 
were much in the majority, many of them the regular old "Highlanders." The "Gaelic" was about as freely spoken 
among the people as English. You might see a crowd get together, taking the little "poteen" any few minutes, 
having a glorious good time. If you called any of these men "Mc," you would seldom go astray, for it was McNeill, 
McGill, McGougan, McInish, McLeod, McCraney, McCorquodale, McGregor, and a thousand other Mc's. 

There was one old fellow who always brought his "bag pipe," McCraney. When he would tune up, a crowd would gather; 
after a time, would pass the hat and take a drink, and for the sake of a little fun, while he was playing, some 
fellow would slip his pen knife into the wind-bag, the pipes would squeak out like a stuck pig; some fellow would 
break and run, McCraney after him, but being an old man, the race, like the "old woman's jig," was short. Another 
drink would put McCraney in a good humor. He usually carried his thread and needle, and in a few minutes the 
puncture would be sewed up and McCraney would tune up again, a guard formed to assure him he would not be troubled 
again, as it would be too much of a good thing, and might arouse the Scotch blood, which was not hard to do, after 
a few rounds of the "poteen."

Ah, were they not good old times, when every pair of saddle bags was a "dispensary" of something to eat or drink, 
and a hearty welcome as long as it lasted. People had souls in those times, and no one need suffer for the necessaries 
of life, as they were plenty.

It was not uncommon to see droves of hogs, of several hundred, some of them perhaps from Kentucky or Tennessee, or 
some of our own counties, many from Sampson and Duplin. Men of means generally put up their own meat, lard, &c. The 
hogs would be divided up amongst the butchers, who would canvass the town and butcher and deliver to different parties 
as many as they needed for home use, who in turn salted and smoked it as they saw fit. Almost every house had its smoke 
house. "Pickled pork" began to creep in in the course of time, but people did not give up the old way of putting up 
their own meat until after the way, which caused many changes in our way of living, but I can't say for the better, 
for everything which can be adulterated is very apt to be so, notwithstanding the various "inspections," which many 
times are nothing but frauds. "Honesty" is not without its reward, but "Rascality" can give it two in the game now
-a-days, and is winked at by "Justice" on the bench, and high places. The great lever power is money. The principle 
of "might is right," seems to prevail, right or wrong.

In speaking of hogs being driven to our market, I have also seen turkeys and geese in droves, driven to market, 
instead of putting them in coops or wagons. Tobacco came in hogsheads, say one or two hogsheads put in a frame 
and rolled along; also tar in the same way--the tar going to the river shipment, the tobacco to the warehouse in 
Campbellton for inspection before shipment, if not wanted at the manufactory in Campbellton. It fairly makes my 
head swim to recall those days. I can find so few to talk them over with. It must be that I am getting along in years.

There are some few things which have not changed. The sun rises and sets about as it did as far back as I recollect, 
but that is beyond man's control; if it were not, I do not doubt but he would, at least, try to put it in better shape 
than his Creator did. With all of our boasted improvements and discoveries has our moral condition improved? Is not 
immorality of every kind on the increase? It is hardly worth while to say it is in some respects. Is it not generally 
so, all over the country? As science advances and discoveries are made the grounds are widened for corruption.

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