Landscaping our yards with flowers, shrubs, trees and grass has become a multi-million dollar business. Many folks have their own landscaping business and employ lots of workers. The average home owner invests in a riding lawn mower, weed-eater and many types of hand tools just to maintain their yards. Grass seed, fertilizer and chemicals are purchased along with irrigation equipment. Now let’s not forget about those high priced water bills that come in every month.
Things were completely different when our ancestors groomed their yards. The rule of that day and time was to keep their yards raked and void of any grass. In earlier times a clean yard provided protection from intruders that might be sneaking up on your cabin or house. Also a clean yard would allow you to see dangerous animals or snakes that would come around. Bout the only thing in our ancestor’s yard would be large trees that provided the much needed shade.
To keep yards clean back in the day bout all you needed was a sharp grubbing hoe and a homemade stick broom. Ever-so-often they would completely rake their yards and chop out any grass that had started to grow-up.
I remember when I was a lad helping my grandmother rake her yard with her homemade stick brooms. We would rake the whole yard one way and then the other. She took pride in having her sandy yard raked and clean of any grass. While helping her I would straddle the broom and pretend I was riding a horse.
As time went by yards seemed to get bigger and folks let the grass grow and even planted it in their yards. At first a hand tool called a sling blade was used to cut grass but later a machine called a reel mower started appearing. These mowers had no motor. As the mower was pushed, gears turned one blade that had sharp fins attached to the blade. They did a good job as long as you kept the blade sharp and the grass wasn’t too high. Why they were designed to cut backwards or forward.
As years went by a different style lawnmower with a motor came around. With a motor on top to turn the blade it could cut heavier grass and was easier to push. These mowers worked fine if you could get it started. Sometimes starting one of those old Clinton motors was harder than cutting the grass.
Back in the fifties my dad bought a small push mower. Why, the blade won’t but about eighteen inches long and it took a lot of pushing to cover our yard. It became my job to cut our yard plus my grandparents. I also picked-up a few dollars by mowing our neighbor’s yards.
I remember my friend Roger, whose dad also owned a push mower, and I made a deal to mow his uncle’s extra- large yard. It would probably take both of us a half a day to complete and we prepared by having extra gas, drinks and snacks and also purchased us a plug of Black Mariah chewing tobacco. We thought it would be cool to be mowing and spitting at the same time. To make a long story short, as the heat of the day came, the sicker we got. Won’t long we both turned green under the collar and became sick as dogs from that chewing tobacco. Needless to say we had to finish mowing that yard the next day.
Well that’s my lawn care story and I’ll close by giving a little advice. Keep your mower well maintained, the blades sharp and by-all means stay away from that chewing tobacco.
J.A. Bolton is author of “Just Passing Time”, co-author of “Just Passing Time Together.” member of Anson Co. Writer’s Club, Anson and Richmond Co. Historical Societies and Story Spinners in Laurinburg.