Growing up on Muddy Creek

| May 2002

Rain barrels and cellar doors

A few weekends ago, while scanning the 'boob tube' for a mental relaxant, I turned to a rerun of the Lawrence Whelk Show. They were playing a nostalgic song about 'hollering down rain barrels and sliding down cellar doors,' which took me back to those long-ago days of my youth, growing up on the banks of old Muddy Creek.

We had a rain barrel and yes, we hollered into it, reveling in the reverberations of our voices. We slid down the cellar door, and yes, we occasionally got splinters in our pants.

Because few of the homes along Muddy Creek had wells with good drinking water, residents had to stock a supply of rainwater to meet their families' needs.

Rainwater, caught and stored in barrels, was the only source of 'soft water' that Mama and her sisters had. Quite often in our neighborhood, its overflow was directed into deep and voluminous cisterns.

The rain barrel stood at the corner of the back porch with two 10-foot boards nailed into a 'V' trough to direct the runoff rainwater from the porch roof into its dark cavity. In those days, most roofs were covered with overlapping, moss-covered 'shake' shingles, split from wood grown nearby.

The water caught from the different roofs had distinctive flavors, and making coffee greatly brought those flavors out. I remember well how Dolly Pepple complained when she had a new cedar roof put on her house and found the wood gave a very unpleasant flavor to the runoff.

8/19/2014 8:35:37 AM

Thankfully there are other more safer methods for in the 21st century. I can't imagine the water would have been too clean either!