How the term ‘sopping’ was invented

J.A. Bolton Contributing columnist

January 7, 2014

I am a storyteller and what I write has either happened, will happen or can happen. I’ll try and stick to the truth as much as possible, but I’ll admit it might get stretched a bit.

I was born in Richmond County and have always resided there. I retired from the State of NC and Clark Equipment Company and just like my family before me, I love to farm. My hobbies include telling stories, gardening, fishing and, for the lack of a better word, trading. I pull from just about all my life experiences when writing and telling my stories.

This story takes place in the 1950’s and 1960’s when I was just a lad going to grammar school at L.J. Bell. After school and summer breaks were spent with my grandparents because both my parents worked at public work. My grandparents had always farmed and my granddaddy was also a surveyor. Tobacco, corn and garden produce were the staple crops. They were worked with two mules and an old B Allis Chalmers tractor.

My grandmother, or “Ma” as I called her, did all of her cooking on a wood stove. She would cook homemade biscuits three times a day. How many of you ladies do that today? She would buy two 25-pound sacks of Southern self-rising flour twice a month. That’s about all she went to town for. Her grocery list mostly consisted of flour, Luzianne tea, coffee, sugar, salt and Grandma’s molasses. The rest we would raise or can ourselves. Ma never cooked much sweet stuff except a coconut cake for Christmas and an occasional egg custard pie. The rest of the time, we satisfied our sweet tooth with molasses.

To eat molasses the right way, you take a pretty good size saucer; fill it to the high rise of the saucer with molasses; put several slabs of homemade butter on the top edge of the saucer; slice a couple of them homemade biscuits in half; and then take one of them halves and slide it right over that butter right into them molasses. This is where the word sopping was invented.

If this don’t put a smile on your face, you ain’t from the South.

J. A. Bolton is a member of the Story Spinners Guild, which meets at the Storytelling & Arts Center of the Southeast.