Lingering in the minds of many aging folks (who can't remember vividly the things that happened only last month) are sounds of yesteryear. The slow attack of time has not rubbed out sobbing sounds heard at times of parting.
Hallowed in memories are joyful greetings mixed with hissing steam and the puffing of a railway locomotive.
I can't forget the kitchen smells of my childhood days. A dreadful noise for the family provider was a cup scraping the bottom of the flour barrel; a less noisy scraping sound was the wire reels of a hand-operated flour sifter being turned in biscuit preparation, and many a sleepy family member was awakened by the rattle of iron lids being removed to replenish the cooking stove with fuel. Other kitchen sounds included the thud of an armload of split stove wood dumped into the woodbox (probably infested with destructive termites); cracking of ice as the drinking dipper was wrenched from the water bucket that froze over during a cold winter night; the grating of a big iron stove boiler being scooted into place to boil water for the family wash, or at hog killing time to cook leaf fat; a table fork being used to whip eggs in a glass bowl; The shaking of ashes from the grate into an empty coal bucket; milk splashing in a churn as butter was being made for table and cooking uses; the sliding of a tin lid across the top of a stone crock; water being dipped from the stove tank into a washpan for hand and face washing.
Odors spewed up from many of the kitchen sounds and most were pleasant, except the leaf fat cooking and laundry water. Unpleasant were the times the smoke would pour out of the stove when the chimney refused to draw. This was bad for the eyes, brought on spells of coughing and was hard on the wallpaper. But in those days, discomfort and denial were regarded as likeable qualities.
Above the kitchen sounds of an iron and granite kettle being moved into positions on the stove top and the whirring of the coffee grinder, there were outside noises. In the back yard could be heard the clanking of the cistern chain as it lifted tin cups of water. Farther away, Model T automobiles were grinding away in low gear when they couldn't make a hill in high gear. As the old flivvers whined, it was easy to imagine a vision of the driver's left foot probably in a workshoe with the uppers rotted from the sole and laced with "sea grass" string engaging the clutch pedal.
Modern roofing has taken away the tin roof sounds during a rain. In the old days, the downspouts gushed water into rain barrels where it was then stored for household uses. Eaves dripped on the bottoms of buckets and wash tubs that were turned up and kept in rows along the back side of the house or along the smokehouse building.
Telephones still ring, but old-timers point out that most lines are private and the old party line rings, such as one long and two shorts, are now isolated sounds.
Gone is the pre-dawn clip-clop of the milkman's horse, (almost disappeared is the whinny of horses in farm fields), the rattle of glass milk bottles, the noise of the iceman's hook as he released a block of ice, the tinny sound of a lid banging on the side of a cream can and the grinding roar of the cream separator.
The passing of the hand washboard sound no doubt put housewives and other family members involved in the laundry chore into a deliriously delightful dither. Gone are the sounds of water sloshing in a tobacco jobber, the "cluck" of the hand operated corn planter, the splitting sound of a tobacco stalk being sliced open, the "ouch" yelled by a farm worker who hit a buried blackberry briar when he stuck his finger in a muddy row while setting burley, and the soft popping sound of a wire corn popper as compared with ricocheting grains in a metal container.