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Thinkin’ about chinkin’ soup

Long before there was insulation, there was chinkin’ soup.

Mama called the concoction vegetable soup but, to Daddy and me, it was chinkin’ soup.

The house we lived in when I was growing up had four rooms and a bathroom that was added on and hanging on for dear life.

Air conditioning back then was the wind that whipped through the cracks around the windows and doors. So, at the very first sign of cold weather, Mama got out the newspapers she had been saving for us to chink up the windows and the doors. We would fold a sheet of newspaper, take a table knife and jam the newspaper in the crack between the window and the frame. The art of chinking was to pack the newspaper so tight that the wind would blow back on itself if it tried to get through.

It took just about all afternoon for Mama and me to get all the windows and the front door chinked. We didn’t chink the back door because we had to have some way to get in and out of the house. The cracks around the back door were big enough for the cat to come through but we had to live with that. Mama would put a towel down at the bottom of the back door to keep out the cold. She kept Daddy’s Palmer House Hotel towel in the kitchen for that purpose. Daddy stayed at that hotel one time and they gave him the towel. Whenever we chinked the windows, Mama made “vegetable” soup. She would put it on the stove right after dinner. While the soup simmered, we were chinking. When we got through, we would sit down to a supper of chinkin’ soup and cornbread. The cold could come and the wind could blow but our windows were chinked and wind proofed.

My granny said that our house was a castle compared to the one she grew up in. They had linoleum rugs on the floor to cover up the cracks in the old wood floor. The house stood on rocks and was way up off the ground. When the wind was blowing hard, it would blow under the house and the old linoleum rug would rise up off the floor. Granny said many times the wind would blow the rug up so strong that she would fly out her chair like she’d been thrown from a buckin’ bronco.

My grandpa said the cracks in the floor of their old house were so wide that one night his brother fell out of the bed and went through a crack. They had to go under the house and get him out.

Daddy told about the time it was so cold that the old hogs left their wallows and took shelter under the eaves of the barn roof. During the night, icicles formed that were as sharp as daggers. One of the icicles broke off, fell and went right through the liver and lights of my granny’s prize hog. The hog didn’t win a blue ribbon at the county fair but it turned out some mighty good sausage. Those were the kind of stories that were told around the kitchen table and over a bowl of chinkin’ soup. Those funny stories and the chinks in the windows kept me as warm as toast on cold winter nights.