Our family's smokehouse has been home to many pieces of meat over the years. I visit it often, and I can still see my mother get the butcher knife, go to the smokehouse and get a mess of ham for any given meal.
I was born to Charles R. and Nannie Melton Self in the foothills of Golden Valley, Rutherford County. There were five children in my family. My daddy did sawmilling and farming for a living. In my early years, he worked with mules and a crosscut saw.
We always had hogs to slaughter for our winter meat. When the time and season was right, we had a hog killing. Around daybreak, Mama would build a fire around the big barrel of water that had been prepared the day before. Family and friends were always willing to lend a helping hand. After the butchering was done, the meat was carried to the smokehouse. The hams, shoulders and side meat were salted or sugar-cured to prevent spoiling. The other parts were used for rendering lard, livermush, sausage, etc.
One thing I always remember about hog killing day was Mama cooking fresh tenderloin and gravy to feed everyone for lunch.