Meet Uncle Abe

| November/December 1960

Dix, Illinois

I would like you to meet 'Uncle Abe Clemmons'. No, he was not my uncle, but he was that sort of person. To be sure, his was a most unusual and outstanding personality.

My earliest memory of him goes back forty years when I was a small child on the farm. Uncle Abe was a middle-aged man then, with white hair and a drooping, heavy white mustache. He was a large man who wore the overall pants with suspenders, checked shirt open at the throat (which showed his buttoned-up union suit). He had twinkling blue eyes, and I never saw him wear spectacles. A broad brimmed straw hat was a must for hot harvest days.

Uncle Abe and a nephew owned a steam thresher outfit and became well known all over the country side. I will never forget the thrill of seeing the big steam engine with the cloud of black smoke. We always knew where the thresher was in our vicinity and, if the outfit was not going to pass by our home, my mother permitted we children to go one-fourth mile to where it would pass. Uncle Abe was highly pleased at this and smiled and waved to us.

He dearly loved to eat. When the thresher crew was at our house for dinner, it was quite an occasion. Several neighbor ladies would come to help my mother prepare the large meal needed to serve the several men who were helping. My, it took a lot of wood for the wood box, we children learned! From early morning we had to keep the fire going in the old black kitchen range. Much baking had to be done, then let the kitchen cool as much as possible. There were fragrant loaves of bread that had been rising all night, apple cobbler, sprinkled with cinnamon, to be served with thick Jersey cream. There were large ham slices, the meat from the smoke house had been saved for this very time. Fresh vegetables from the garden, along with extra store-bought products made up the meal. One could not forget to mention hot coffee. It had taken a lot of grinding with the coffee mill -- and I had loved to do it.

Uncle Abe loved his coffee hot and strong, and liked his cup filled a number of times during a meal. We children (who did not eat with the crew) always managed to be around to watch Uncle Abe drink his coffee. It was quite a trick to drink coffee and keep his mustache dry. Of course, he never could, and that is when we left the house and ran somewhere to giggle to our heart's content. My father did not have a mustache and we were so glad!


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