Living in the Early 1900's
Mack and Effie Tyner lived on what could well have been called "The Back Forty." Our music, particularly at night, was that of the screech owl,
who would make us shiver with his spine chilling noises, the swamp angels,
whipporwills, croaking of the frogs and the chirping of crickets in their respective seasons. The "L" shaped house was built throughout from rough
"sawn" pine boards and erected in board and batten fashion with a split
board roof. The floor was made from the same identical wide boards which developed cracks between in the drying process. The fireplace, with a
window on each side, was in the end of the room next to the kitchen, In cool or cold weather one could feel the cold air coming through those
cracks not filled with dust, sand and other small debris. The house had no overhead ceiling (or the sides) for several years. About 1922 they
obtained waste and scrap lumber from a nearby saw mill and put board and batten overhead, thereby helping to make home a little more comfortable in
On the right side of the fireplace during cool or cold weather evenings, our father would place a cowhide bottomed chair (which was the only kind
that we had) on the floor in a reclining position to relax on the floor and
play with the children. The floor was cleaned by using a weak lye water solution, a generous sprinkling of sand and the vigorous back and forth
motion with a home made scrub from corn shucks. The scrubbing process was followed by a generous water rinse with much of the water escaping
through the cracks. The excess water remaining on the floor was partially picked up with any old rag or burlap sack no longer usable in other ways.
About the only cleanser or soap available was "home made" lye soap made by using one
or more balls of Icy coated with rosin dissolved in a wash pot. This was boiled with a
limited amount of water, together with the waste fats from the kitchen and "cracklins"
from the annual hog butchering season, It was usually somewhat dark in color and was
tainted with the pungent odor of lye. Before this generation, lye was obtained by
burning oak wood, collecting the ashes in a cloth or porous container and keeping the
contents wet with water to dissolve the potash and collect the drippings for home use.
Toilet or sweet scented soaps were rarely available as well as too expensive to use
considering the lack of available funds for such purposes. The first bought soap that
we ever used was bar shaped and called "Octagon." We took special care of the octagon
soap. At soap making time, the children were exceedingly curious about the process of
saponification in the seething mass of froth and bubbles. The processor was kept busy
with almost constant stirring to prevent the pot's boiling over and the adding of small
bits of water to get the correct consistency for hardening when cold. After hardening,
the soap would be cut into irregular shaped chunks with a little water added to
encourage slipping loose from the pot and placed on a board for keeping in a dry place.
After drying, the soap became quite hard and the family was not so wasteful with the
hard soap as with the softer stage.
Entertainment in the community consisted of candy drawings, cake walks, and box suppers
usually held either at someone's home or at the church which also served
as school. At home children were successful improvisors worn out and
discarded socks and stockings were unraveled and made into a ball with the
thread using a small rock as the center. To prevent the balls from unwinding in use, they were sewn several times around
as well as back and forth through the ball to enhance its lasting qualities. At home
and at school the children would choose sides and throw the ball back and forth over
the house or building; if caught by a team member on the opposite side, the team would
run around to the competing side to try to tag a new member with the ball for their
own team thereby reducing or decimating the opposing team and increase the membership
of the competing team whenever possible.
Stick frog was another game played in soft dirt when a pocket knife, with the largest
blade open, was tossed, thrown or dropped from or in certain positions to land upright
with the blade in the dirt. Otherwise, the competitor won the use of the knife to prove
"Catty Bat," played with the home made ball, consisted of two players each with a
fitting board or stick about 2 1/2 to 3 feet in length standing about 20 to 30 feet
apart and facing each other with a catcher behind each batter to retrieve missed balls
and throw the ball to the opposite batter. As many as a dozen or more persons could
participate in this game with the person catching the ball either on the fly or first
bounce exchange or replace the batter with the contest continuing, hopefully, until
everyone had an opportunity at the bat. At school, one of the boys was so clumsy that
he was never able to catch flies or bounces and he would always eat his lunch at
school so quickly that he abused his stomach in order to be the first one to bat.
"Town Ball" was a sort of mini-baseball game that was great sport with a sizeable
crowd when trees, fence corners or some other object constituted the base. What would
children of today do with themselves in this era without the benefits of modern
transportation, entertainment, drive-in eateries, drugs or whatever? If they are bored
today with all of the modern entertainment, where would they be in our early
In promoting good family health, nothing was more dependable and reliable than faithful
"old Nell" when hitched to the Jersey Wagon to take the family on its annual trek for
typhoid fever shots. The driver always sat on the springboard seat with, usually,
another adult while the children occupied the back of the wagon, often with their feet
dangling toward the ground and frequently with bare toes touching the ground.
The farm operation grew gradually through thrift and hard work from a homestead site
into some 900 acres in farm and timberland over their lifetime. Sugar cane syrup,
cotton, turpentine products, and some livestock were the basis for income and expansion.
In the fall of 1926 they moved into the vacated sawmill office and boarding house prior
to the building of a six bedroom, 11/2 story frame house where the family currently
resides, three miles south of Laurel Hill, Florida, on state road #85. The family burial
plot is Almarante Cemetery located about two miles north of the homesite on highway #85.