by Carl Wayne Hardeman
As we grow older, we reflect on the old days and old ways, forgetting the comforts and conveniences we now take for granted. Since most everyone we knew lived "in the country," going to town was a big event.
We lived in several small towns, and always went to town on Saturday mornings to buy groceries, or at least the things we didn't raise or make ourselves. The summer I lived with Aunt Cora and Uncle Charlie, we went to town sitting on the fender skirts of his Ford tractor and standing on the axle. Aunt Cora could also tote the bag of whatever she bought from her egg and butter money.
One story I cherish told me by my daddy-in-law, Ralph Graham, was about going to town in the old days. The subject would come up when we traveled the old route from their home in the old Esperanza community through Thaxton to Pontotoc [Mississippi].
As the oldest boy, Ralph got to go with his daddy, Sanford Graham, riding in a mule-drawn wagon. They would leave after working all day Friday and travel to a grove of trees a few miles west of Pontotoc, where they would meet up with others with the same intentions. Ralph reminisced about the wood fires, the knife swapping, and the old stories told over and over in a deep darkness we seldom see nowadays.
Next morning they arose early enough to hitch up and drive the last few miles into town by sunup to trade and do more visiting. This was the way they got most, if not all, of their news, whether about politics or how the War was going. Many had sons off to war and were anxious for any scrap of news. They stayed all day, returning home after dark.
Bazel McLaughlin recently told me a story about that road. In those days it was not paved. There was a spot called "big hill," not noticeable nowadays after years of grading and roadwork. If the road was muddy, as it often was, folks helped each other get over that hill. They unhitched one mule team and used both teams to get the wagons over "big hill," one at a time. Folks helped each other in those days.
Over time I understood that when the old folks drive the old roads, they see things I never saw or will ever know.
Carl Wayne tells us about himself:
"I write gardening articles for the Collierville, Tennessee, Independent, the Southaven, Mississippi, Press, and Desoto Magazine, all from a Southern perspective. I point out the correct pronunciation of ants (aints) and peonies (peOnies) and advise always to plant hydrangeas on the north side of the house. I've been in software development forty years, the last twenty with a large overnight express delivery company. I have taught computer science as adjunct faculty at local universities over twenty-five years. We have a small farm in Pontotoc County, Mississippi, where we raise a large garden with my in-laws. My in-laws were there when the REA strung the first electric wires in that area. They were killing hogs. That night for supper they had liver and lights."
Carl Wayne leads the Collierville (Tennessee) Victory Garden, and edits BodockPost.com. He is available to speak to groups at no charge. Contact him about visiting or volunteering for the Collierville Victory Garden or about speaking engagements at 901.485.6910 . . . or write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Mississippi ~ the Soul of Dixie
Slide down my cellar door!
Green Landscaping ~ Eco-friendly gardening
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