University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Haag, Rita / If you look back, it's not that far: memories of Mary Stella Sutter Haag recorded at age 103

Part I: Growing up in Perry,   pp. [2]-30 PDF (9.0 MB)

Page 14

Mary remembers when her mother made pickles in big crocks.
"She put in a layer of pickles, then a layer of dill until the
crock was full, then covered it all with a salt brine. On the
top they put cabbage leaves."
Back then, sugar was expensive, so most families used
sorghum as a sweetener. "We used to make sorghum, sweet, oh and
that was so good. We (usually) had 20 gallons, a barrel, that's
all the sorghum we made. A neighbor over by grandpa, he made the
sorghum. We grew the sugar cane and then we hauled it out there
and he pressed it.
(It ran) through a press, (and then) that juice went down
and he put it in a big vat. When he made that he had to throw in
mud--nice clean ground. He had to dig that out and throw that
in, and it took out all what they should have taken out (filtered
it). See, the mud went to the bottom and then that juice that
came on top, they put it in a vat and they cooked it. They had
to thicken it that way. They could tell when it was thick enough
and then they took it out. We had a barrel--we had 20 gallons,
and such a faucet on (a spigot)."
Sorghum was used sparingly and never wasted--or almost
never. Mary remembers a time when: "Dad went out one evening and
was gonna get some. We had it outside in the granary, just to
keep it not too cold. It was kinda cold--it was in the winter.
So he turned it on and he sat there and 'Oh,' he says, 'I can't
wait for that thing.' So he left it run, and he says 'I'll go
and do the chores.' Afterwards, when he come back, the sorghum
was all over the floor in there, all wasted. He felt bad enough.
We did, too. It was such good sorghum.
"That and cream bread. We used to have that. Of course
that cream wasn't as good, what we bought; the sorghum was good
what we bought, but ours was good, too. Dad, he says, 'from now
on I'll watch.' You know, it took a long time to do his chores.
He had just a little jar."
The sorghum stalks provided not only a sweetener, but cattle
feed as well. "We always stripped ours. Then we used the
strippings for the cattle to eat. That's just like eating corn
stalks, and then of course you made better sorghum if you strip
it. It didn't make it bitter but it was a lot more work if you

Go up to Top of Page