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[Couple enjoying sop sticks]

Description: Narrative by Junebug Clark in the summer of 2014 People watching the molasses syrup as it boils down use short pieces of sorghum cane stalk to make “sop sticks,” which are used to dip into the molasses syrup for a taste. This was the height of the fall social season. Harvesting the sorghum, extracting the juice, boiling it down into molasses could take days and weeks going round the clock to finish. Overall Background: These Molasses Making Stir-off photos were shot by Joe Clark HBSS in the early to mid-1940s. Most of them on the farm of Fred Whitaker about four miles southwest of Cumberland Gap, or in Cumberland Gap on the farm of Baptist preacher the Rev. Hugh Vancel. More information about these images can be found in scrapbooks in the Clark Family Collection at the University of North Texas Special Collections Library. Specifically in a Detroit news pictorial article published December 13, 1942 titles "stir-off party" where mountaineers make molasses and merriment. Also in life magazine published November 13, 1950 [page 156] titled “Stir-off Time in Tennessee, Fun Starts in Hills as Molasses Boils.’ Also in the library is NBC Today Show video taped story on Joe Clark HBSS by Bob Dotson. It features Joe Clark returning to Cumberland Gap Tennessee to photograph a molasses stir off taking place in the same location as some of these photographs and attended by some of the same people in the early 1980s. Let me briefly set the scene of the time and era that these photos were made. World War II was raging. Television did not exist. Radio reception sporadic in this mountain country. School was held only three months a year mostly during the winter months. Most news of the changes in the outside world was learned, they say, ...
Date: 194u
Creator: Clark, Joe
Partner: UNT Libraries Special Collections

[Men straining the sweet sorghum juice]

Description: Photograph of a man pouring a bucket of sorghum juice into a cloth stretched over the opening of a barrel. Another person stands across from him and stirs the liquid with a wooden spoon. A woman is visible walking by the background of the photo.
Date: 194u
Creator: Clark, Joe
Partner: UNT Libraries Special Collections

[Walking Home by Lantern Light(2)]

Description: Photograph of Cecil Ray with his arm around a Bonnie Burns as they walk along a gravel path. Burns carries a gas lamp while the Cecil Ray carries a small pail of sorghum molasses while they both laugh and smile. A typed poem is mounted to the right of the photograph on a mat.
Date: 194u
Creator: Clark, Joe
Partner: UNT Libraries Special Collections