Picture of the day - August 22, 2005

The Cook Family Of Widener Valley, VA

The Cook Family

Today's picture features my wife's family in a great photo that was taken in 1948. It includes her maternal grandparents, her parents, all nine of her mother's brothers and sisters and a few others. The pretty little girl in the lower right-hand corner is my beautiful wife - she was just two years old then...

Family pictures that include the entire family are rare, especially when the family is so large, but the Cooks were always a very close-knit group. "Granny" and "Granddaddy" Cook raised their children in a time when large families were the norm. Everyone had work to do - even the youngest kids helped gather eggs, work in the garden, or do whatever needed to be done.

Back then, only the very rich purchased all of their food items. With the exception of staples like sugar, salt, and pepper, a family produced virtually everything they ate themselves. After all, supermarkets as we know them today didn't exist back then.

Granddaddy Cook would haul corn to DeBusk Mill in his horse and wagon, then return home several hours later with freshly ground corn meal and buckwheat flour. Vegetables came from the garden, fruits came from the orchard and meat came from either the barnyard or the woods.

Springtime meant plowing and planting, summers were spent working in the garden and tobacco patch, and autumn was harvest time - canning vegetables, making apple butter, jellies and jams, curing meat...simply doing whatever was required to help the family make it through the winter.

And winter wasn't a piece of cake either - cows had to be fed and milked each and every day, hogs had to be "slopped", and tobacco had to be "stripped" and "tied" in preparation for sale at the warehouse. Firewood had to be cut and carried. Hunting wild game helped supplement the meat supply - it wasn't a sport back then, it was a way to help feed a family.

On top of everything else, Granny and Granddaddy Cook also had the difficult task of raising ten children and teaching them how they should live their lives. They also took care of my wife (their first grandchild) just as if she was one of their own children.

Granny and Granddaddy Cook's home and hearts were full of love, a fact that is clearly evident even today, long after they went to be with the Lord. Without exception, my wife's aunts and uncles are wonderful people. It's easy to see they were taught to love and care for others, and they learned those lessons well.

I never knew Granny and Granddaddy Cook, but I know I will have the honor of meeting them some day...and I love them dearly. I love them for the legacy they left in their children...and for being so loving, kind and generous to that beautiful little girl in the lower right-hand corner of today's picture.

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