I recently came across an advertisement for the Perry County Nursing & Rehabilitation Center of Perryville, Arkansas. The ad was unusual in that it featured a profile of one of the residents of the center: Berlene Cody, née Graham, the daughter of John Jasper Graham and Danner Copeland. The profile gives a good representation of life on the farm in the first-half of the Twentieth Century.


PCNC Resident

imageBerlene was born on a small farm in Searcy County, Arkansas, and was delivered by a midwife. She had three brothers and one sister. Growing up, she helped out a lot on the family farm by milking cows and gardening. She said they would have to put the milk in the well to keep it cold because they did not have electricity or own a refrigerator. They took baths in the creek. She learned to cook and sew at a very early age. Her aunt, Nona Graham, taught her to sew. She used a treadle sewing machine to make their clothes. After she married, she continued to sew for her family. Even when they finally got electricity, she continued to use her old non-electric treadle sewing machine.

When she was a child, her daddy would parch peanuts for them as a special treat. He cooked the peanuts in the fireplace using a one gallon bucket with holes punched in it. He would also make popcorn in the bucket.

The family packed up and moved to Sikeston, Missouri, when she was around 11 years of age. After high school, she worked in a shoe factory, then a straw factory. She met and married George Cody in 1947, and soon afterward they moved back to Arkansas. Her family then moved to Louisiana because of a desire to cotton farm. They saved up enough money to return, and buy a place, in Perry County.

Mrs. Cody enjoys church & family and has two sons, Elton and Keith. She has always enjoyed cooking, gardening, sewing and canning. Her favorite foods are chocolate gravy & biscuits, with a big ole’ glass of milk; brown and white beans; corn bread and sweet potatoes; and peaches. Her favorite President was Franklin D. Roosevelt.


Advertisement for Perry County Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Petit Jean Country Headlight, page 11, published Wednesday, 9 November 2011. Retrieved on 27 December 2012.