Ours was the third house to be built in the ‘new’ neighborhood. A subdivision of homes was being built in the woods. THE WOODS. We moved into the house in the fall, and I played in the woods around the house beginning then and through the winter. When I turned seven in April my mother sent me outside to play.
“No really, you have to go outside… and play… Go…”
So I went. Outside. Into THE WOODS.
via In a Man’s Voice: Outside by Brent Aikman | Esse Diem.
Our home place is now under siege. Bull Creek is devoid of people, hardwood trees, ginseng, yellow root, and most other native plant and animal species. It is empty. The mountains above it have been strip mined along with my memories of Uncle Kin’s cabin and huckleberry picking. Ashford Ridge running from Ashford to Bull Creek has been scalped by mountain top removal strip mining. Behind our homeplace and just over the mountain on Fork Creek, mountain top removal strip mining is closing in on us.
via Truman and Me (epilogue) by Julian Martin.
I was in a safe community cocoon. There were always other people waiting for the bus, and the kind train conductor knew Charlie and Grandma and made sure I got off at Gripp which is across the river from the farm. The conductor enjoyed calling Gripp “suitcase” to see if I would laugh. From the train at “suitcase” I walked on a winding path through a corn field to the river’s edge and yelled for someone to set me across the river.
via Truman and Me (part 5) by Julian Martin.
Aw, Grandma. I see her herding and milking the cows, churning the milk into butter and stirring hot, thick, satin brown apple butter in a large copper pot over a wood fire. She stirred the apple butter with a long-handled wood paddle with holes to allow the liquid to pass through. To pick berries, she dressed up in a garb that covered every part of her body. Her face barely peeked out of an Arab looking head wrap through a swarm of gnats trying to get at her blood. Picking berries was slow, hot and miserable for me, but Grandma could go all morning, picking two water buckets full of berries without giving in to the heat and bugs.
via Truman and Me (part 4) by Julian Martin.
On cold winter nights, Truman and I shared a feather tick under a mountain of homemade quilts. It was deliciously scary when the wind banged the big sycamore tree limbs against the house. Ghosts and strange creatures lurked in the “boar’s nest” — a dark, mysterious, and cluttered storeroom of dusty pictures, old clothes, trunks, broken furniture and a coat tree with a hat on top. Flashes of lightening or a full moon turned the coat tree into a creature looking in at us huddled close together under our quilts.
via Truman and Me (part 3) by Julian Martin.
Our trust in great-Uncle Kin was well-placed. He never told on us when we charged Red Top tobacco to his bill at the tiny store across the river. We made a corncob pipe and hid out in the barn and tried unsuccessfully to light it. Truman sent me to the house for some kerosene to put in with the tobacco—we were lucky we didn’t burn that wonderful old barn down. We tried smoking corn silk and made an unsuccessful attempt at the harsh smoke from dry sycamore leaves. We were determined to imitate our role models and smoke something.
via Truman and Me (part 2) by Julian Martin.
Grandma said Truman and I fought like grown men, punching with our fists and rolling around on the floor and under the dining room table. Truman had a three year advantage but he was a little guy, so our fights were usually a draw. We played hard like kids do. We got hungry during one wonderful, uninhibited, wild and joyous day of fighting, wrestling, killing Nazis, running and running.
via Truman and Me (part 1) by Julian Martin.
We would meet in the parking lot of the Tech Center, a great, sprawling piece of property where most of our parents’ offices were located. Parents and kids who were going and kids who weren’t going and kids who had already been but wanted to say goodbye to their friends all gathered. There was always crying. Kids crying from fear if it was their first year and frustration if their siblings got to go and they didn’t, always last minute dashes to the bathroom, and slightly controlled chaos abounded. Parents yelling out the ever-embarassing, “Don’t forget to change your underwear!” “Brush your teeth!” “Use the bug spray!” “Don’t forget to write!”
via Carbide Camp was Magic by Jean Hanna Davis | Esse Diem.
Growing Up (part 4) by Christi Davis Somerville | Esse Diem
“Last April I received an urgent phone call from my brother. Mamaw was in the hospital. I heard the words “fatal” and “aneurism” as his voiced cracked to tell me the news. I dropped everything and drove as fast as I could to the hospital to see her. She had been having a hard time remembering things and getting around, but the thought of her dying just would not register in my brain, even though she was ninety one years old.”
Growing Up (part 3) by Christi Davis Somerville | Esse Diem
“Papaw Charlie was quite a strange fellow–quiet and reserved at times, angry and rude at others. The one thing about Papaw Charlie was that he was consistently inconsistent. You never knew what he would say, what he would do, or where he would go. One morning he got up, packed the car and drove to California to visit his sister Rose. We didn’t even know he was going until he was gone. I learned at a young age not to cross him, argue with him, or disagree with him. It was his silence that bothered me most since I never knew where he was coming from or what he was thinking from day to day.”