During war times, materials were often cut off or in short supply. Aunt Sara told us during the Civil War they could get no cotton, so they planted a lot of flax. As soon as she and Aunt Nan got home from school in the evening, it was their chore to scutch the flax. A scutch was a board about 4x10 inches with sharp point metal prongs sticking out of it, about 6 inches high.
The stalks of flax were beaten on this scutch until the hulls and chaff broke away and left strands. At that time, there was a weaver in South Bend, and after Grandmother and Aunt Harriet had spun these strands into thread, the weaver wove it into linen cloth for them, from which they made table cloths, napkins, towels, sheets and pillow cases.
She said they made up such a supply that they didn't have to buy any of these items for years. In fact, I was old enough to bake bread with some of these coarse linen cloths which Grandmother brought with her to our house. This would be nearly 50 years after they were made.
During the First World War, brooms were scarce and high priced, so we raised broom corn, and Mr. Harvey had a machine that made up the brooms for us. Another thing that Bess can remember is that we raised sugar cane for sorghum molasses. I cannot remember this, but know we used a lot of store bought molasses. We put it in a pitcher to pour over our buckwheat cakes.
I was very much intrigued when as a child I was invited to a playmate's house for a meal and everybody had a small saucer of Orleans molasses behind his plate, in which he dunked his bread. The molasses we got then was much lighter in color and texture and better tasting than the cooking molasses sold now.