Wednesday, December 7, 2011
While traveling down through life,I remember oh so well. An old gentleman I loved dearly that loved to talk and tell.
About his cherished memories of many years gone by. Learning was an humble experience and to listen I always did try.
He talked about his childhood and how he grew up rich and poor.With wealth not of money but riches a thousand ways more.
I'd just sit and listen and feast on every word. Now I want you to read this legend of a man's life as told in his own word.
I lived through the Great Depression when there was no jobs to find. We always had plenty to eat he said, each year the gardens grew more kind.
And when they came in, we canned everything we could. In the winter we killed our hogs we raised and had plenty of meat and the eatin was good.
And hard work was never a stranger, I helped run that old gristmill everyday. If me and my daddy made fifty cents it was more than they could pay.
But we never did ask for money our satisfaction always came, in knowing we helped put bread on their table, it was money just the same.
Back then people growed big cornfields and worked from sun up till sun down. They brought it anyway they could to the mill just to get it ground..
Oh I remember a few that was just plain sorry back then. They'd lay around and let their family go hungry, the more you'd give em the more they'd depend.
I remember this one old feller was the worst I've ever known. Somebody offered him some corn one time and he asked if it was shelled and they told him no and he said drive on.
But most people wasn't like that, they learned to work early on. And there wasn't much time for schooling back then, what I learned I learned on my own.
Back when we were both younguns, me and my brother walked up the hill. To a little one room school housewaht time we wasn't at the gristmill.
That teacher taught every grade and she sure had trouble keeping us in line. I'd slip out the backdoor going home and the next day she'd whoop my behind.
I guess that's the reason I didn't learn and don't know much today. But you know common sense will get you pretty far and go a long way.
You know the younguns today learn alot and have more opportunities than we did. They got the best chances in the world to go farther, but first they need to be a kid.
I started out young learning to be a man and that was fine by me. Today younguns want to drive fast cars, I drove a wagon hitched to mules and it made me feel free.
I was pretty young when when I helped my daddy drive an old wagon to town. It took us all ady to get there and back but it was the only way around.
We'd haul a whole load of pulpwood and they'd pay us two to three dollars a load. Not much money at all for an all day trip on an old gutted out road.
And I can still remember the first car that came through the country side, An old A Model Ford, it spooked the mules pulling the wagons and the old feller just drove on in stride.
After that my daddy died back in 1937 and I helped make his casket before they put him in the ground.
People kept their folks at home back then, there wasn't any funeral homes around.
It seemed after he died times got even more rough.I had to pick up work wherever I could , but it never did seem to be enough.
I remember leaving home at two o' clock in the morning, walked every step of the way. I worked hard at that old sawmill, never got home till after dark for fifty cents a day.
Most people walked everwhere they went, to me it was never a chore. You know people were a lot more healthy back then and enjoyed life more.
And people took time to visit their neighbors and check in on the sick. Mommy stopped at every house a long the way, carrying that old walking stick.
She'd take em some chicken and dumplins from an old hen she'd killed. Even if that old hen was sitting on a nest of eggs she didn't care, it was her favorite meal.
Mommy prayed a lot for us boys back then. Many a time I could hear her upon the mountain down on her knees praying and God was surely her friend.
And it payed off to, God surely answered her prayers. I made it right with God one night at an old revival and mommy jumped straight up in the air.
But before that I was meaner than the dickens I do recall. I used to slip out the front door of the church when they give the alter call.
Mommy's brother my uncle Tom was a preacher man and he got to watching us and one night he came up with a plan.
Just before he gave the alter call he walked to the front door and laid his Bible down. He said I dare anybody to step over God's word, we climbed out the window and jumped to the ground.
Well I better get off of this stuff or I'll be in a big mess. Uns younguns don't need to hear about so much meance today, it's for the best.
Well we lost Mommy back in 1960, the coldest time I ever seen. They liked to never got her grave dug, had to shovel the snow back and dig in between.
Back then people in the community dug every grave there was and I always pitched in. Some we had to shoot with a stick of dynamite when we got in a big rock den.
And that reminds me of digging wells he said, we dug everyone by hand. We'd dig for weeks or even months before we struck water and sometimes we just got sand.
And today when I walk up and down these roads, it comes to mind so clear, of how many I help build and how many's still here.
I started out when Roosevelt was President, working with the W.P.A. That was the best thing to come along back then and I worked for em many a day.
You know Roosevelt got the country back in shape, it was just about gone. Some people almost starved to death it was the worst I've ever known.
We built roads and dams all over the place and everyone I still recall. A lot of them roads and dams are still around today but they're more large now than small.
Everybody had it rough back then but we managed to make it on through. Even after me and your mammy got married and we had uns younguns too.
I had to go off to work again down south with that road crew. We built a lot of roads down there and never got to come home but once every week or two.
Come Sunday evening I always had to pack up and go straight back. She never would say it but I think your mammy had a lot of trouble keeping uns younguns on track.
I had to use my belt a time or two but I never did beat anybody to death. You know if anybody gets caught whooping their younguns today, they'll stay in jail until they draw their last breath.
Well I think I'll get my old walking stick and go out to the old place. Need to check on that corn, if the crows has got it again, I'll need to replace.
But there's one more thing I'd like to say, you see these overalls I wear. When I die just bury me with my overalls and hat, I don't want no fancy attire.
And you see this walking stick here, just pass it on down. I won't need it anymore, let it help someone else walk these roads and get around.
And then he was gone, back in 1998 he passed away. And today this legend of a man is wearing his overalls and hat and telling his stories in heaven everyday.
And today I'm so honored to share these cherished memories of mine.Oh how I still miss and love my Dad, what a legacy he left behind.
Susie Swanson, 2011
In loving Memory Of my Dad....January, 18, 1904----April 27, 1998