Blue Laws – Never on Sunday

I grew up in what some would consider the northernmost fringe of the Bible Belt – an area of our country steeped in conservative Christian values. Of course, I had no idea about such things. It was just home and I loved everything about it.

Virginia, like many other states, observed Blue Laws which affected what you could and could not do or buy on Sunday. Considered a day of rest and worship, no work should be done on that day.

The problem with the law was that the interpretation and the adherence was as varied as the citizens it applied to. Enforcement  varied from county to county and often times adherence demands were stricter when a new political force was trying to make the law central to their platform. Attempts to repeal the 1610 law in Virginia continued until finally successful in 1988.

What I remember was the law was intended to keep people at home on Sunday to go to church and spend time with their families. No work was allowed. Stores were generally closed with the exception of places that sold essential goods – and essential seemed to always be up for interpretation. Women could not buy nylons for example. You could buy a loaf of bread but you could not buy food that required work to prepare.

The sale of alcohol was a big no, no with blue laws. In fact many states still have such restrictive laws. In some states or counties, you cannot buy alcohol until after noon and some, not at all.


Another interesting practice was the closing of businesses at noon on Wednesdays. I have read many different reasons for this. In our area, we had church service on Sunday morning and Sunday evening and usually had Bible study on Wednesday evening. This could have played into the need to get home early and have time to prepare dinner and then go to church.

I have also read that Wednesday afternoon is when many of the stock yard auctions were held. Being in a rural and farming region, this was an important aspect of life there. Add that to the increased amount of business being held on Saturdays, a mid-week break would not have been unusual.

Regardless, the banks and retail businesses all closed for the day at noon on Wednesday.

Blue laws existed in many northern states as well, but were perhaps not as prevalent. I doubt there are many places in most states that are not open for business on Sunday these days with the exception of those owned by certain religious interests.

Blog, Home

Memories of Home

Day 5

What is home without memories? Both the memories of years gone by and memories yet to be made are part of how we remember the home we grew up in. They also help us identify the home we try to create.

I have great memories of growing up. While we lived in a few different states, I identify with my time in a little valley in Virginia as the place where I grew up. Life there was magical and I didn’t even realize it at the time.

Life Was Simpler – Or Was It?

forsythiaTimes were so different. We didn’t worry so much then – at least the kids didn’t worry. I can only imagine how hard it was to support a family. There was a sense of community I have never found since. Everyone planted a garden and when one family’s tomatoes didn’t do well because of blight, they could always barter with their abundance of potatoes or cucumbers or green beans.

My paternal grandmother always planted a beautiful garden. On the outer edges she always grew mums. I learned at an early age the importance of rotating the plantings because each plant required different nutrients from the soil.

There is nothing like pulling a fresh cucumber from the vine or pulling an onion out of the ground and enjoying it fresh. As a matter of fact, we ate so many ‘small’ cucumbers it drove my grandmother crazy! I can still hear ,”Don’t pull all the cucumbers or we will never have any pickles!”

Cardinal - 1I have vivid memories of her sweeping the snow from under the cascading forsythia bush and spreading breadcrumbs or oatmeal to feed the cardinals in the winter. Every winter when I see fresh fallen snow yet to be broken with animal or human footprints, I think of my grandmother.

“You should always remember to feed the birds”, she said. And we still do and always will. That’s home.

My Life as a Kid

We roamed the hills all day long as kids. We came in to eat and sleep and that was about it. We ran barefoot. Mom always teased people we met saying the only way we could stand to wear shoes was if she put rocks in them.

We were educated about our environment. We could identify snakes and knew which to be wary of. We swam in the creeks unsupervised. We jumped rocks to cross the creek. We even had a community teacup that hung on a branch by the spring so people walking on the railroad tracks or fishing along the creek bank could stop and get a drink of water. We never worried about what kind of germs lingered there.

We climbed the mountains and swung on grape vines although it was not as glorious as the Tarzan movies we watched when we saved enough pop bottle lids to see a movie. Going to the movie was a RARE event. We did have a black and white television set. We were able to watch one channel if the weather cooperated. If the wind blew too hard, Dad would climb to the top of the hill to rotate the antenna – telling us to yell up to him when the reception was good.

I love the life I had as a child. I think in many ways it prepared me for the time I would ultimately leave home and would need to stand on my own two feet. It is and always has been the foundation on which I built my life.

Anytime I worry about my place in this world, I think about my roots. My memories evoke the sense of home and family. My memories ground me and remind me what every home should be – a safe place to explore and be free.

I am a country girl, but I identify so much with this old song sung by Little Jimmy Dickens and written by the late, great Johnny Cash.

Country Boy

Now, I’m just a simple guy
But there’s one thing sure as shootin’
I hate those folks who think that they’re
So doggone high falutin

I’d be the same in Hollywood
Or right in my own kitchen
I believe in fussin’ when you’re mad
And scratchin’ when you’re itchin’

I’m a plain old country boy
A cornbread lovin’ country boy
I raise Cain on Saturday
But I go to church on Sunday

I’m a plain old country boy
A cornbread lovin’ country boy
I’ll be lookin’ over that old gray mule
When the sun comes up on Monday

Where I come from, opportunities
They never were too good
We never had much money
But we done the best we could

Ma doctored me from youngin’ hood
With epson salts and iodine
Made my diapers out of old feed sacks
My ‘spenders out of plow lines

I’m a plain old country boy
A cornbread lovin’ country boy
I raise Cain on Saturday
And I go to church on Sunday

I’m a plain old country boy
A tater eating eatin’ country boy
I’ll be lookin’ over that old gray mule
When the sun comes up on Monday

Every time the preacher called
Ma always fixed a chicken
If I’d reach for a drumstick
I was sure to get a lickin’

She always saved two parts for me
But I had to shut my mouth
T’was the gizzard and the north end
Of a chicken flyin’ South

I’m a plain old country boy
A cornbread lovin’ country boy
I raise Cain on Saturday
But I go to church on Sunday

I’m a plain old country boy
A tater eatin’ country boy
I’ll be lookin’ over that old gray mule
When the sun comes up on Monday

“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.” 
― Patrick Rothfuss