Fun Times in Papa’s Tidy Corncrib


White County Historical Society 2002 White County Heritage

ur corncrib at Roosevelt 70 years ago was a log structure.  Cattle had rubbed the logs until they were shiny and smooth, dark, slick, round and worn.  I just loved to feel them.  The building was built tall and square.  The floor was high off the ground.  Rat shields were placed over the piers.  It faced the west and had one heavy door.  Sawed sections from logs were used to form steps.  Some of the steps were cut shorter than others, but even so, it was hard for a little girl to climb inside. 

             I loved to go to the corncrib.  Inside, the building was divided into three neat sections.   My Papa was very organized.  The back room was always filled with ears of corn, still in the shucks.  Shucking corn was great fun.  Papa always made a game out of everything.  The very best ears were put aside to be ground to make bread or to be saved as seed for planting.  The very smallest ears, called nubbins, were tossed into the hog buckets.  These were poured into troughs and chopped up with hatchets.  I can still remember the sound of the hog chomping the corn, cobs and all. 

The rest of the ears were placed into bins to be shelled.  Now that was the part I really liked.  The corn sheller always intrigued me.  It was a heavy machine, bolted securely to the floor.  The top flared out like a huge flower vase.  It had two spouts, one for the shelled corn and one for the cobs.  The crank was very large but I could turn it easily after it got started.  Soon after the loud clicking sound, the corn would begin to flow from the spout.  Other things came when they heard the noise.  Old Jess, the big fat mare, and the mules.  Then Granny would come, making a lot of noise as she called her turkeys and chickens.  There was this huge tom turkey and two turkey hens, followed by a long string of turkey babies.  Chickens of all sizes then went into their own feeding coops that Papa had built.  Here came the geese and ducks, making a great noise.

Papa had us stuff all the shucks into bags.  He used them to stuff seats for his buggy and wagon.  They used the best ones to wrap hot tamales or make arts and crafts.  They made dolls and flowers.  They even had a corn shuck mop.  The cobs were also used in crafts, for pipes, corncob horses, etc.  Papa even put a little oil in a pail of cobs and used them to start his fires on cold mornings.  Some were taken to the outhouse in case the Sears catalog ran out.   We were never allowed to leave the crib in a mess. All the buckets were stacked.  The floor was swept.  It had to be ready for our next visit.


(The author is a member of the White County Historical Society.)

[1] Paul King was the only member of his family to survive a 1903 tornado that struck Little Red, Arkansas.  His unique story, “Orphan of the Storm,” was published in the 2000 edition of White County Heritage, and earned his daughter a writing award from the White County Historical Society.

[2] Granny was Amanda Bell Sims.  She and Thomas A. Sims were the parents of the author’s mother, Blanche Sims King.  Sims was a prominent name among farmers in Roosevelt from 1902 until 1935.