NOT the Salt of the Earth

Welcome to 1870 where Violet Spinrad finds something needs to change.

Alice Hopkins showed up at my door. She was out of salt.  Can you imagine? That’s like

MMMmmmm.  Mmm....  Good

Violet's Tasty Chicken Bone-Salt Soup.

being out of air. We’re so poor the only thing on our kitchen table is elbows—but we’ve got salt. She warned her husband, the Colonel, they were almost out of salt, but he said it could wait.

Honestly, if the Colonel hadn’t hired some men to bring them across the Oregon Trail, he’d be tramping through South America right now, wondering where he’d made a wrong turn.

Alice was proud of her little salt throne. It sits on her table with a tablespoon of salt in it. Said it was a family treasure, passed from mother to

via Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver (ASCAS)

daughter since the old folks left Russia.

Holds 3# of salt and my whole fist

My big salt box hangs on the wall right next to the stove so the salt won’t clump.  I have my hand in it at least twenty times a day.

  • Perspiration stains: Dampen with a mix of saltwater. They fade right out. Of course, I doubt if the Colonel does enough work to sweat.
  • Insect Bites: At times mosquitoes were so thick on the Trail, we’d eat them when our mouths opened to talk. A paste of salt and lard ends the itching.
  • Candles: After a quick soak in saltwater, they smoke less and burn longer. I soak my clothespins, too (but I don’t burn them).
  • Wash Day: A final rinse in salt water keeps the clothes from freezing on the line.
  • From rinsing a sore eye to descaling fish—I use salt.

When a person says “You’re the salt of the earth,” it means you make yourself useful in any situation.   Bricker hasn’t been around in a while.  I believe he’s abandoned me and the 6 kids for the gold fields of California. The best I can say of the man is—his salt has lost its flavor.

(NOTE: Besides seasoning food, there are over 14,000 uses for salt-*Saltworks:America’s SeaSalt company)
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About Barb

I escaped from a hardscrabble farm in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why people think I have an accent. I miss the sunshine, but not the fried foods.
This entry was posted in Humor, Pioneer Friday in Two Pan and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to NOT the Salt of the Earth

  1. ansuyo says:

    Interesting 🙂

    Like

  2. Red says:

    Pish tosh. Bricker has no idea what he will be missing as that is certainly a fine soup.

    Salt is why pregnant women crave pickles. The body needs the salt to produce the excess blood to support the little dumpling. Pickles are soaked in brine and satisfy the salt craving.

    I will take my salt on the side…or on my chips. I use it for all manner of things (like drain cleaner), but not so much on the food. 😉

    Red.

    Like

  3. Yes, but why isn’t there any salt in salt water taffy?

    Like

  4. digipicsphotography says:

    Oh, you can also use salt to clean silver jewelry. Line a small pan or bowl with tin foil, shiney side up. Add 2 tbsp. of salt and enough hot water to fill the bowl or small pan. Stir a bit to dissolve the salt. Add the silver jewelry. Wait a few minutes and presto! Your jewelry is cleaned.

    Like

    • Spectra says:

      Thanks for the tip – I’ll give it a try. I keep most of my silver and silver plate in plastic ziplock baggies, so they never tarnish. But the rest goes black fast.

      Like

  5. digipicsphotography says:

    You can use salt for debridment too. If you have dry, scaly skin on your hands, knees, or feet, pour about a tsp of olive oil in the palm of your hand. Add about a tsp. of salt. Rub the affected areas vigorously with this mixture. Then wash with soap and water. It gets rid of the dead skin cells and makes your skin soft and smooth. 😀

    Like

  6. Like your story. I’m printing your list of uses for salt.
    Is this a clip from your book?

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Hopefully, you don’t need that tip about rinsing your laundry in saltwater so it doesn’t freeze on the line. (Although I have hung clothes and let them freeze dry.)
      Thanks for asking about the book. It’s set in 2011, but I thought it would be intriguing to give glimpses of the characters’ ancestors. It explains the tolerance for small town quirkiness and why anyone would stay in this forgotten end of the earth for so long.

      Like

  7. dan says:

    I got a ten pound salt lamp from someone. It’s kind of a huge, pink, quartz looking rock that’s been hollowed out and had a bulb put in the middle. Apparently it’s a much touted panacea, as so many things are. It’s pink and kind of pretty, but that’s about it. Every one looks at me like my chimney is clogged when I tell them salt was a preservative. Didn’t know about the other things.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      I have the bitty brother to your salt lamp. Mine’s a candle holder. It’s supposed to emit ions which clear up your nose, make you giddy happy, and chase away aliens. Seems like you and I will be survivors in the next cyborg war. Perhaps salt makes their parts rust?

      Like

  8. souldipper says:

    Didn’t salt begin life with humans as a form of “tender”…didn’t people use it to trade?

    It’s one of those everyday items in my larder that I take for granted. What would I do without salt on my stove-top popped popcorn? Yike!

    Hey, when did you folks in Two Pan discover popcorn?

    Like

    • Barb says:

      I agree, we don’t think twice about salt today, except to restrict our intake, as Moma points out.

      Popcorn had been around since the Egyptians. What else could they string and put on Christmas trees? Cranberries were too expensive.

      Like

  9. millodello says:

    Can’t wait to hear the salty prose that should greet Bricker on his return. Still he too is a victim of his time. How do you choose between gold and salt if you have neither.NIce.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      You’re right. Gold fever was as real as any of the other diseases hitting the settlers. Groups of men would leave their families for a year or more to work together trying to find a fortune. A few actually did. Those that returned were usually broke and sick.

      Like

  10. I suspect Bricker’s absence is the salt of the earth. Violet will do the same things she was doing while he was here, without him pulling her down at every step of the way. She, and her children as they grow, will work hard and barter what they have for what they need, paying in goods or labour. And, likely, no more children each year. That has to be a win in itself.

    Like

  11. Never knew that salt water could remove perspiration stains, I will try that for sure. Great post, as usual!

    Like

  12. Helen Wand says:

    What a great bit of history! I’m lovin’ your blog! Salt has to be worth more than gold. We’ll I’m not sure now at $1800.00 an ounce! That Bricker is a lousy, lazy lout, isn’t he?

    Like

  13. magsx2 says:

    Hi,
    I didn’t realize salt could be used for so many different things, that’s amazing.
    Loved the story, and the antique salt containers are beautiful.

    Like

  14. El Guapo says:

    Great tale. Loved it!

    Like

  15. momaescriva says:

    And to think the AMA wants us to limit our intake of salt. Well, from the uses you mentioned, I guess we can still enjoy it.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      I didn’t mention you can Prevent mold on cheese by wrapping it in a cloth moistened with saltwater before refrigerating.
      Knowing how you love to cheese-up food. I saved that tip just for you. Tell the AMA to stick it.

      Like

  16. Alice Lynn says:

    I recall reading how in medieval times, status could be determined by how close a diner was seated near the salt. The more prestigious the guest, the closer he or she was to that valuable condiment.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      I did not know that. That must mean I’m a queen because the salt box is next to the stove (where I do perform failed cooking experiments). And there’s not a shaker on the table for the rest of the peasants.

      Like

  17. ReaderWoman says:

    I collect salt dishes – individual dishes that were placed at each setting. I inherited my grandmother’s matched set of oval ones, and I have been adding to it ever since! I really want a “salt pig” – love your “salt box” – – – Thanks for a great post!

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Those salt pigs are cute. I don’t know of anyone who uses the salt dishes today, but I think they’re so stylish. There were saltshakers in 1870. They put a big hunk of salt in the jar and shook it to break the crystals loose then shake them out. It took a while for them to catch on in Oregon because it’s so damp here.

      Like

  18. I remember visiting Grand Saline salt mine in East Texas. And then it closed. How does a salt mine close? …perhaps they ran out of salt, but I don’t think so.
    Does salt water get wine stains out of napkins?

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Violet’s too poor to afford wine, so she wouldn’t know. But she’s handy and could stitch a spelunking vest out of those wine-stained napkins in case you decide to toss them. The vest will be handy when you investigate the mystery of the missing salt. If we don’t hear from you again, we’ll know it’s become a top-secret military base.

      Like

  19. Jon says:

    I usually have about 3 fifty pound blocks out for the horses. Salt water will remove perspiration stains? Gotta try that!

    Like

  20. Roxie Matthews says:

    Salt is also vital in preservation of foods (salt pork, canned goods, bacon, salt beef, etc.) Roman soldiers used to be paid in salt – they called it sal. From which we get the word salary, and the expression, “He’s worth his salt.”

    Bricker is no great loss, but what will Violet do now? Poor, poor woman!

    Chicken bone and salt soup? I dunno. Not even a carrot or a handful of dandelion greens?

    Like

  21. Let the old salty dog go! Good riddens I say! You still have the kids and the salt box. Aren’t you lucky…Margie

    Like

  22. Nance says:

    And here I’ve just been instructed by the doc to cut back on the salt. I think I felt my ankles swell as read. I hate change, too.

    Like

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