On a typical day in 1929, cooks at Ritter Company Camps of Dickenson County, Virginia , served the following menus to anywhere from 75 – 100 loggers:
Stewed or fried apples
Fried ham, pork chops, or beef steak, with country gravy
Butter, jam, jelly, syrup
Baked or boiled potatoes
Pork and beans
Stewed corn, cabbage, or other vegetable
Fried pork or stew (Irish, vegetable, or beef)
Corn bread, light bread, and biscuits
Butter and syrup
Coffee and milk
Meat of two kinds
Pork and beans
Rice or pudding
Corn bread and light bread
Milk and coffee
Loggers also sang about their food. Singers like Hank Williams, Sr. immortalized loggers’ lives in song, too, and somehow food always played a role:
Lyrics to Hank Williams, Sr.” “The Old Log Train”:
If you will listen, a song I will sing,
About my daddy who ran a log train.
Way down in the southland in old Alabam,
We lived in a place that they call Chatmantown.
And late in the evening when the sun was low,
Way off in the distance you could hear the train blow.
The boys would come runnin’ and Mama would sing,
“Git the supper on the table, here comes the log train.”
Every morning at the break of day,
He’d grab his lunch bucket and be on his way.
In winter or summer, sunshine or rain,
Every mornin’ he’d run that old log train.
A sweatin’ and swearin’ all day long
Shoutin’ “Git-up there oxen, keep movin’ along,
Load ‘er up boys ’cause it looks like rain,
I’ve got git to rollin’ this old log train.”
This story happened a long time ago,
The log train is silent, God called Daddy to go.
But when I get to heaven to always remain,
I’ll listen for the whistle of the old log train.
Tomorrow [September 16, 2006], more about logging camp cooks.
© 2009 C. Bertelsen