Believe it or not, at one time in our lives things were fairly simple. As you know, Southerners have been admired for working hard all their lives and not wasting time dragging out business transactions. Basically this meant if you needed something and wished to buy, this item was worth so much to you and so much to the seller. In case someone has been under a corn crib all their life, folks were honest only decades ago. You could depend on what a person told you…why?
Well, we were raised to take a man at his word. Which meant his reputation was at stake. Which meant, if a man’s word was no good, he was no good? Very, very simple. Believe me word spread like wildfire concerning a man’s reputation, especially in a small community as Rosemark.
Friends, if you ain’t country then no one can understand these goings on. In the South, you check the reputation ’fore you get into dealing. Daddy jogged my memory a few times with the point of purchasing a milk cow. Mr. McCain owned and ran a dairy farm up near the Tipton Country line, right before you got to Hagy’s Corner. Now that’s logical. A milk cow from a dairy and that explains the connection.
My fellow Southern Americans know, remember and understand at one time in history it was imperative a family must own a milk cow. I know it is sad to say or even think, believe it or not, milk does not come off the refrigerated shelves of grocery stores. As stated many centuries ago, man can not live on cornbread alone, as he must have clabbered or buttermilk.
Of course the transaction for the house with Mr. Simonton was way more expensive and tangled, but the ground base was essentially the same. So what did Daddy do in order to buy a milk cow? Well, you go to the milk cow buying place, which at his time was Mr. McCain’s dairy farm. See, everything is simple. You know what you want.
Neighbor, you look over the herd, spot one or two, and then maybe get a little inquisitive? All my Southern Farmers know ’zactly what I’m referring to. Maybe a few questions as you want to cover everything in a short period of time. Such as how old? Which one is the bull daddy? Is he alright? What kind of shape is she in? What about her calves and how many? Does she have any trouble catching? How much does she give? Would you say it is pretty rich? Possibly has she ever been down for anything?
Between both parties everything is supposedly covered so there are no surprises. Maybe, is she carrying a calf now? How long do you think it will be ’fore she comes in?
Don’t forget Mr. McCain has good points to chunk in. Such as, she is just a pet. She came out of good stock. She’ll come to you when you call. Also, near milking time, she’ll head toward the barn so you don’t have to after her. She’ll be still during milking while slowly chewing her cud.
This was very important to a future country tugger, continuing with, she is not a kicker and once you get started, she’ll give real easy. Has been vaccinated and shows no signs of any Bangs, pink eye or wolves. Hooves are in good shape, not splintered and we clipped her tail.
Neighbor why is this detailed information so important? Simple to me. Daddy wanted to make sure he knew everything about purchasing a milk cow and spending the money. Possibly the most important documentation was Mr. McCain had his reputation to uphold with his selling livestock.
No one wanted word to get around that any body was dishonest and damage their golden name. Consequently the agreement on the price, a handshake, (his word) the exchange of money and the deal is finalized. Similar to buying Mr. Simonton’s house. Before I forget, both parties ended up happy.
At one time everything was simple ... GLORY!!!!
Otis Griffin is the author of the book “Southern Raisin”. He was born in Charleston, Tenn., and attended Rosemark Grammar School and Bolton High School.