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I'm not a Southern Beauty,
I'm not an Eastern rose;
I'm just a lil' Western Gal
With freckles on her nose.

Thursday, September 9

Acorn Smith

My mother and father grew up in the Great Depression. They were seven years old when the bottom fell out. My mother -- whose family was pretty much unaffected by the Depression --  used to tell of a boy in her hometown who was nicknamed "Acorn." She told it as a funny story, but it always made me so very sad. Most things my mother found funny, I found sad or distressing. 

Acorn Smith had gotten his nickname because as the eldest son, he would collect acorns for his mother and younger siblings to eat. Oak tree acorns; very bitter. His mother, a widow, would evidently soak them in lye and change the water again and again -- much as cassava or manioc is prepared in South America. The lye bath leaches most of the bitter tannins out of the acorn meat, which can then be ground into meal and eaten like any nut flour. A mother would have be quite resourceful and equally desperate to use acorn flour to feed her children.

My mother had her own demons, and I think they made her rather mean-spirited. She would tell with delight about her brother shooting Acorn with his BB gun as he would stoop to gather the acorns, and poor Acorn crying "like a baby" and yelping but having to stay and pick enough for their needs.

This graphic is in honor of Acorn Smith and his mother, who quietly went about their way, gleaning what they could from Nature and gratefully eating their daily bread. I don't know what happened to them; I hope better days came and that Acorn made it through WWII and went on to have a bit more of life's bounty than bitter bread and the derision of unfeeling peers. God Bless you, Acorn.

13 bloggie frens have visited the Comment Corral:

  • Julia

    I learned during college about the native Americans on our coast gathering acorns in droves. They'd harvest giant caches of them and store them overwinter. The Miwok Indians and others tribes relied upon acorns annually so I see no shame in eating acorn.

    Their method of leaching out the tannins consisted of poring water over the mashed nuts about 8 or 9 times. It took days to make quantities worthy of eating. Hard work.

    I love to find the mortars in the rocks by rivers. There are a few rocks with many mortar holes about two miles from my house. I can imagine women sitting there grinding acorns for hours. Makes me know I have it easy. And makes me thankful for flour from a bag...

  • Anvilcloud

    What a nutty post! :)

    My mother didn't have it so easy in the depression, but she had an odd sense of humor too. I wonder if it was the times -- or just the coincidence of two weird women? :)

  • Amrita

    Beautiful story Holly. People faced a hard time in those days.

    Here my countrymen are still faccing those times and gleaning from nature, even worse.

    (Let me confess) I glean from my garden too. I eat things sometimes people would turn up their noses at. Ha-ha.

  • Anonymous

    Living through hard times surely changes people, either for the better or the worst. I've always hoped I would be better and not bitter for my rough times. Thanks for the story and the acorn pic. My grandpa had a huge oak tree in his yard. I miss him and the tree. Wistful smiles, Sally

  • Faith

    Holly, hope all is well with you in Texas. I am hearing of rain, and people losing their homes to floods,etc....I am not sure where you are, but hope that you are safe enough away. Those folks who came up thru the depression,like my parents were hearty souls, and were appreciative about what they "EARNED" and didn't have their hands out..A different time. I would have rather lived then..then now. Having Character meant something...

  • Debra

    What a sad story! It was such hard times!
    I love the acorn graphic!!

  • ^..^Corgidogmama

    Wow, that was a sad...disturbing story. Can see how it still touches you after all these decades.
    Life has all different levels of hardships and cruelty. We've all been victims of it, or caused it. Let's hope your Acorn was able to feel joy before his days came to an end.

  • NancyD

    I've never heard before about people eating acorns, Holly. I know how the depression affected people, my folks spoke of it often. How sad, we just have no idea about the hardships that so many people have faced. I am grateful for so many things.
    Thanks for the acorn. :)

  • sara

    We are in our own Great Depression poor Acorn.


  • xashee's corner

    you are about the sweetest woman i have ever known!! Thank you so very much for sharing your story of Acorn and the fun little graphic too! sure makes me appreciate and miss the old oak tree that mom and dad had in the yard, so many years ago. :)

  • Faith

    Do you think you could maybe find a animated
    hurricane lamp, like the mason jars? I've been
    looking and have not found one yet...Thank you

  • Dawn

    Holly, I think you were born a with a wise old soul and a heart of gold. It was a sad story. Here's to all the Acorn Smiths who persevere despite suffering indignities at the hands of bullies.

  • Heather's Blog-o-rama

    Thank you for sharing this and I LOVE Acorn and his mom!!! That's the kind of person I want to be and the mean-spirited people out there :( :(

    My grandfather would have only been a few years older during the depression...around 10 years old. He was the youngest of 10 children. He used to steal apples and oranges from neighbors trees as a kid...although I didn't know aboutthe "stealing" part until just recently..but also, he said they'd show movies at the local racetrack near Pasadena, CA...and the people would be given boxed lunches. He'd go around with a gunny sack gathering food that people didn't want. He was always amazed at how "careless" people seemed to be and just tossing perfectly good fruit, sandwiches etc...and that's what he did to help feed his family during the Depression...that and he said they ate a LOT of beans!!!

    I think that's why even grandfather NEVER passed up anything th at's FREE...never ever...not even at the ovie theatre...He'll get his FREE refill of popcorn, put it in the refrigerator and eat it later...Of course, movie popcorn with lots of butter is always good :) :)

    Love and hugs, Heather :)

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