Saturday, November 23, 2013

Riding The Back Of A Truck

How many remembers riding on the back of a pickup when you were a young’un ? I’ve got fond memories since that’s all my daddy ever drove. He always had a truck of some kind and what time we weren’t hoofing it we’d jump on the back of the old truck. 
Daddy never did get in a hurry, he only drove 25 mph. We could’ve walked faster but we sure did love riding the back of that old truck. In the warmer months on many a Sunday afternoon he always took us on what he and mama called pleasure trips, and they were the only ones that rode in the cab. 
Those Sunday afternoon pleasure trips took us to lots of places. A bunch of kids out to explore the world with the wind blowing against our face, we thought we’d died and gone to heaven. And we’d always stop off at the old swimming hole. It was always called the Maple Hole cause so many maple trees surrounded it. The sun was never allowed to shine and the water was like ice even in the middle of the summer. We’d play a while and jump back on the bed of the truck. That sure did cool us off quite a bit.
 We rode down old dirt roads that I never knew existed and visited so many different places. Daddy and mama loved visiting old cemeteries. I couldn’t count how many of those we explored. Of course they remembered a lot of the people that were buried there and if they didn’t know them they knew their kin.
 We’d stop along the way and just look around, maybe eat a picnic lunch we’d brought along. We’d spread it out on the tailgate of the old truck or on the ground if we’d thought to bring a blanket. We always said the food tasted better outdoors. Daddy called it resting for a while.  Occasionally they’d go looking for poke salad, especially in the early spring, that’s the only time they liked it. Mama said it wasn’t any good once it got so big and she never liked those big stalks. 
They went into the snakiest places there were. They’d tell us kids not to follow or we’d get snake bit, go figure. One time when we were in school they went out looking for poke salad and found themselves in a big over grown pasture. They had to crawl through the barbed wire to get there. They didn’t think about any cattle being in the pasture when a big bull came out of the blue. Mama said that was the fastest she’d ever seen daddy run. He said, speak for yourself old woman you out run me. I asked them if they got any poke salad and they said they left it behind for the bull. We never did let them live that one down.
We all loved traveling those old back roads and we never knew what was around the next bend. Daddy knew everyone of them cause he’d been there before. He was all over the place and helped build most of the roads that we traveled down. 
Daddy lived to be ninety four and never had a driver’s license his whole life. Yep, I’m telling the truth. I don’t know if it was because he couldn’t read or write or if he just chose not to try. We used to kid him in fun about it after we got older. We told him that one of these days he was gonna wind up behind bars. He said, what are they gonna do with an old man like me, lock me up and throw away the key. He managed to get by without ever getting stopped or caught and that’s a blessing in itself. That’s the main reason we always took the back roads and he always chose the backroads going into town too. 
Daddy drove all of his life. He started out driving an old wagon hitched to two mules when he was a young boy before he ever knew what a truck was. I guess for the most part he still lived in the past to a certain extent and didn’t really think he needed a driver’s license. If he were here today he’d say, we live till we die, let’s not waste a minute of it, the road is to wide not to share.
Now days if people get caught hauling their kids on the back of a truck they’ll lock them up for sure, and it’s not safe at all but back then we never knew the difference. I rode the back of a pickup so long that when my husband and I were dating I’d jump on the back of his truck when we started somewhere. One day he told me I could come on down and ride in the cab with him anytime I wanted to.
I’ll never forget when daddy finally had to give up his driving. It was a  few years before he died. He knew he wasn’t able to drive anymore. His reflexes weren’t as good as before but it made us all sad just to watch him walk out there and crank that old truck everyday and just sit there listening to it run. It broke our hearts every time we saw him and I do believe he cried also.
I know times are different and things have changed, some for the better, some for the worse but I still miss those days when we were so carefree, we enjoyed life more. The little things in life are the most important and I’ll take traveling down an old country road on the back of a truck any day. The wind blowing against my face, with eyes shining bright with glee. That feeling of contentment in my heart is the best with every wind swept memory and daddy’s old pickup truck surely holds the key.

© Susie Swanson. 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hog Killin Day

With Thanksgiving fast approaching I can’t help but remember my childhood memories many Thanksgivings ago. We called it Hog Killin Day. It always came at Thanksgiving cause the weather became cold enough by then to keep the meat. Sometimes if there were two hogs to kill, one was done at Thanksgiving, the other at Christmas. 
 It all began early in the morning before daylight. Daddy would build a big, roaring fire and sharpen all the knives. We’d get all the pans ready in the kitchen. The kitchen is where I stayed, didn’t want any part of the killing. 
Everybody would start gathering in about daylight. Family, friends neighbors and some we didn’t even know but they claimed to be kin. They all took part helping cause everybody wanted a big mess of fresh meat. When it came hog Killin Day, everybody pitched in and when it came their turn at their house it was the same.
It was an all day event and the working was hard. Those big shoulders, hams etc. were salted down and taken to the smokehouse to cure. There was nothing wasted but the squealer when it came to a hog. Every part was saved including the feet and I’ll leave out the part about the brains. The head was used to make souse meat and there was always plenty of sausage to can. We never knew what a freezer was until I was almost grown. A big pan sit on the back burner of the stove for days on end, rendering the lard. That sure did save on the grocery bills. 
 We looked forward to those big pans of tenderloin with hot biscuits come suppertime. We even had ham or tenderloin for breakfast with gravy and biscuits. Then the next day we’d have back bones and ribs, so on and so forth. And of course the Thanksgiving table was graced by hog meat. To say I was sure glad to get some chicken, is an understatement. That didn’t come to often either, just when we had a bunch of young fryers to thin out. They usually graced the Sunday dinner table when the preacher and all  the other folks gathered in. Mama would throw in a big homemade banana pudding for good measure. We cleaned the bowls, regardless of what kind of meat we had or not. In a big family you learn early on to eat what’s on the table. We eat three meals a day and there were no snacks of sweet doings as mama used to call them. Our snacks were a big piece of left over cornbread with some little green onions from the garden. Especially after we got in from school in the evenings before we done our chores. That was in the warm months of spring and summer.  By the time it came Hog Killin Day our mouths watered for some meat . I can honestly say I’ve never went to bed hungry a night in my life. If we didn’t have anything but cornbread and milk it was more than was promised. 
I know a lot of things have changed today, some for the good and some not so good but I can’t help but wonder what people would do if they had to go back to the old ways. My daddy used to say they’d starve to death for lack of knowing how to do. I long for that simple life when it didn’t take much to satisfy and what we had was worth all the money in the world. We were truly blessed and for that I’ll always be grateful.

 © Susie Swanson, 2013

If anyone would like a copy of my New Book the info is at the top in the right hand corner. 

I wish each and everyone of you a Happy Thanksgiving . 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I'm From Appalachia

I’m from Appalachia where the mountains are home
And the land is pregnant with age old meaning
The gardens are planted by the wisdom of the signs
The corn grows tall with jointed stalks bending

Fresh winds sweep across these ancient hills
 The echoes evoke like fragrant honeysuckle vine
The stars are more nearer and the sun shines brighter
On those old familiar pathways that were left behind

One can never know what lies beyond a hilltop
Clothes on clotheslines blowing in the wind
That dear, sweet voice calling, come to supper
Gathering around the table, where love is akin

Learning very early how to cook, can and preserve
From the rich earth that many wise have laid feet upon
Given freely and worth more than wealth of money
Such joy, knowing that now it has become my own

Such a rich heritage passed down through the years
Sweet as the apples, pears and each juicy plum
A way of life that no one can ever lose, take or break
Fine as that childhood wagon made from a black gum

And those spirit-filled churches, oh what joy to be had
Plenty of preaching and shouting echoes across time
Age old faith handed down through the generations
God surely did design it all with his grace in mind

 Wonders never cease across this beautiful Blue Ridge
The water runs crystal, clear down every hill and trail
Sweet as molasses from sugar cane stripped at the mill
Such a treat and humbly I accept, this life is so swell

These mountains I call home just beyond the horizon
My spirit dwells and in tranquil peace does shine
I will plant it firmly for those who follow after
In hopes they’ll never leave the chimney smoke behind

© Susie Swanson, 2013

If you would like a copy of my New Book, "Echoes Of Time" the info is at the top on the right. Many thanks in advance.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

He's America's Son

My Husband, Basic Training 1966, Ft. Jackson, S.C.

My Son Basic Training 1993, Ft. McClellan, Alabama

A gallant, brave soldier
so fearless and strong
lies in the trenches
in a war torn zone

With visions of freedom
so courageous and true
with a longing for peace
helps carry him through

Jungles or deserts
wherever he may be
he’ll keep up the fight
no rest for the weary

His job is not over
until victory is won
he’s a fighting soldier
He’s America’s Son

©  Susie Swanson, 2013

I send my deepest gratitude and thanks to every Veteran serving or has served our country.
I am eternally grateful for your great sacrifices. May God Bless You All.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Finest I've Ever Known

                                          We no longer raise gardens, chickens and hogs
                                          No more smoking chimneys, we now use gas logs

                                          There's no more hog killings on Thanksgiving Day
                                          Only turkeys and hams grace the tables today

                                          We no longer carry water in for the night
                                          There's plenty of running water and baths delight

                                          There's no more sitting by an old oil lamp
                                          A light hangs from the ceiling, an electric revamp

                                          No more traveling preachers, a thing of the past
                                          Big new churches, log churches are in the past

                                          There's no more Store Truck making its way through
                                          Like kids in a candy store, we stood like a statue

                                          An orange and an apple used to be a Christmas treat
                                          Now days electronics are the only thing that's neat

                                         Keeping a milk cow and churning our own buttermilk
                                         They now snarl their nose if its not store bought milk

                                         There's not many clothes now blowing in the wind
                                         We now have clothes dryers and washers that spin

                                         No one takes time to visit their neighbors or the sick
                                         My daddy's not here with his big walking stick

                                        The canning and jelly making days are almost gone
                                         Just a few old timers left to carry on

                                        There's no one left to cure the thrash (Thrush) anymore
                                        My mama's gone and her cure is no more

                                        There's no more prayer and recess in school
                                        It seems everything now has become man's rule

                                        Those old aporns they wore with money tucked away
                                        Is gone too, like their hair tucked in buns of gray

                                        And those old time zinnas my grandma so loved
                                        They now grace heaven with beauty and love

                                        There's no more plowing with an old mule now
                                        They use big tractors but that old mule sure could plow

                                        There's no more hunting foxes, possums and coons
                                        And sitting by a campfire listening to the dogs croon

                                        That good squirrel gravy and dumplins I still smell
                                        My mama sure could make them so yummy and swell

                                        There's no more sleeping with six in the bed
                                        With three at the foot and three at the head

                                        And sweeping the yard with a worn out broom
                                        Praying for some grass to grow really soon

                                        There's no more swinging on those old grapevines
                                        Or playing hopscotch in the sand with hand drawn lines

                                        There's no more crawling through the barbed wire fence
                                        Trying to escape the bull, we didn't have any sense

                                        Playing in the cold creek was a summer time game
                                        Claiming to fall in on a winter's morning wasn't the same

                                        Going fishing at the old mill pond with fishing pole in hand
                                        Losing track of time, the fishing was so grand

                                        Helping mama find Poke Salad in the early spring
                                        Climbing through the brairs and snakes was her thing

                                        Or picking creesy greens from the creek bank each year
                                        Not knowing the difference with mama not here

                                        Going to bed with the chickens on hot summer days
                                        No time change did we have, we got used to the same ways

                                        There's no more robbing the hen's nest in the early morn
                                        Those old hens sure could lay, fed good with corn

                                        Those wonderful old days I loved and once knew
                                         Is now gone and the old ways too

                                        The living was so good, the finest I've ever seen 
                                         I love to go back it makes my heart sing                                    

                                         ©  Susie Swanson, 2013

A sneak peek at my new Book, "Echoes Of Time". Published, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

Walking His Way Through

                                                     He walked down country roads
                                                     with a faded Bible in hand
                                                     ragged as his old shoes
                                                     this old time preacher man

                                                     He had a message to deliver
                                                     to every church around
                                                     a different one every week
                                                     he covered a lot of ground

                                                     In the winter time cold
                                                     his coat was thread bare
                                                     he'd brace against the wind
                                                     with no regrets or despair

                                                     When the hot summer's heat
                                                      beat down upon his brow
                                                      he'd wipe away the sweat
                                                      holding on to his vow

                                                      A few pennies in hand
                                                      were all they could give
                                                      he never asked for money
                                                      modest was the way he lived

                                                      And he never once failed
                                                      on any given day
                                                      he'd take his small earnings
                                                      and give them all away

                                                      To some needy family
                                                       living by the roadside
                                                       it filled his heart with joy
                                                       and a sense of great pride

                                                       If one hungry child
                                                       he could have fed
                                                       he'd thank his father above
                                                       and go hungry instead

                                                       Just an old preacher man
                                                       walking his way through
                                                       doing the Lord's work
                                                       in the only way he knew

                                                       When he laid down his work
                                                        his body and life's goal
                                                        heaven's gates opened wide
                                                        it was a sight to behold

                                                        © Susie Swanson, 2013