Cherokee Nation
Cherokee Elder Bennie Ross talks about growing up, how things were kept cold without a refrigerator and attending a one-room schoolhouse.

Video: Cherokee Elder Bennie Ross Talks Refrigeration and Being Neighborly


Cherokee Elder Bennie Ross, 85, tells us about losing his mom at the young age of 3 and how he went to school in a one-room schoolhouse. He went to that same schoolhouse with the same teacher through eighth grade.

He says he often took a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to school for lunch. “Sometimes my aunt would make bean patties, they thought I was having sausage… I was eating beans,” he laughs.

Ross tells us how he used to pass time while growing up. “We used to make wagons out of logs and ride over the hill… they would go pretty fast too,” he says.

He talks about walking miles home after a movie that would end at midnight. “We were brave in them days, now I’m afraid to go outside after dark,” he laughs.

There weren’t refrigerators then, they had smokehouses. To keep food cold they dug holes in the ground, lined it with burlap sacks and covered it, and “there you go,” he says.

He talks about trading goods and services to make due and using hickory to cure coughs.

“Nobody had anything… that’s why we got along with our neighbors,” he says. “If our neighbors needed something, we helped them, if we needed something, the neighbors helped us.”

Watch the full interview with him below:

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