Gilbert Parrish (1856-1903)
Gilbert Parrish, son of William Parrish and Rebecca Jane Devane, was a farmer of the 1156 District of Berrien County. As a farmer, Gilbert Parrish appreciated the aesthetics of country life. The simplicity of a cool drink of water from a gourd dipper was, for his tastes, unbeatable.
For Parrish and other pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia, the utility of gourds was an essential part of daily living. “In a thousand different ways the gourd is of the greatest use to all Southern families,” the Friends’ Intelligencer 1902 volume observed.
“… there is seldom found a farm-house where many gourd utensils are not in evidence, and the tourist will not be long in finding that in some of the poorer homesteads, and, in fact, in a great many of the well-to-do farm houses, they are the only known receptacles for water, milk, food, soap, and the various articles found in country kitchens. Every Southern housewife has a small sized gourd for holding salt, one for flour, one for pepper and other condiments, and a large one for lard, butter, corn, beans, and other vegetables…The housewife prides herself on her milking-gourds, which are kept white and clean by constant scourings and scaldings.” Large gourds are used as hens’ nests, water is carried to the farm hands in the fields in a large gourd bucket, the tinsmith and the shoemaker keep their tools in a gourd chest; they are also used as hanging baskets…” “Stopping at a farm-house in any of our Southern States of North America and asking for water, the tourist will be directed to help himself at the well, where a gourd dipper hangs in readiness.”
The 1883 American Agriculturalist noted the utility of the dipper gourd:
One of the most useful forms is the Dipper-gourd, in which the smaller end, or handle, is sometimes curved, but quite as often it is straight. The shell of this gourd, when a large opening is made in one side, and the contents removed, forms a dipper, very useful on washing days and at soap-making times. When thoroughly cleansed and soaked, to remove all taste, it is used at the water- pail.
While in Nashville, GA on a dog day afternoon, Gilbert Parrish waxed eloquently on the refreshing qualities of water from a dipper gourd.
Atlanta Constitution Wednesday, Aug 6, 1884. Pg. 2. GEORGIA GOSSIP. From the Berrien, Ga. News It was Sunday afternoon, and they were sitting under the awning in front of Bill K. Robert’s store. As we walked up Gilbert Parrish was delivering himself as follows: “Boys, you may talk about your fancy fixing, your silver and gold and your tin dippers, your oak buckets, and your drinking from the spring, but for solid comfort and keen enjoyment give me the old-fashioned country raised gourd – the kitchen gourd. It must hold about a quart, have a long crooked handle and be split about half way down the side and sewed up with white thread crossed just so (here he crossed his fingers like the letter x). If a man will drink some of our Berrien county water from such a gourd as that and say that it ain’t the very quintessence of pleasure, why I don’t want to know him, that’s all.”
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