Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Graduation 1931

A beautiful piece of history. Not just the document, but in the history of a community, a family.

The school was built in 1926. Mother and Dad graduated in 1931. They started in a one room school house then attended the big, two-story, brick building.

Mom's cousin Ralph Eberwein was President of the school board.

Mom carried yellow roses when she was married. Now I wonder if she influenced the decision on the class flower. The FM colors changed from green and gold to blue and white. Perhaps it happened when Franklin and Monroe consolidated.

I look at the old program and see names of those who passed through my life when I was a child. I see the surnames of the kids I would go to school with two decades later.

I appreciate that Mom saved the old documents. Yes, she saved them for the memories they held for her. Little would she know that I keep them for the history they hold for me.

It's June tomorrow. The month when young men and women move on with their lives. My parents moved on together in 1931.

Monday, May 30, 2011

I Took Away

We take with us what we are. We take with us what we want to be. We sometimes look back with a critical eye. Sometimes we have no idea what we left behind. But still, we move on.

I took away from Neff Road more than I left behind. I took the hearts of two people who lived back the lane. I took memories, good and bad. I took the genes that were given me at conception. I took questions and few answers.

Neff Road was more than a place to live. It was an education, sometimes hard and sometimes full of pain. I struggled reaching for what I didn't know, knowing only the place I had always been. Some steps took me far away. And, over the years, steps have taken me back time and time again. Not by walking the lane to the house. No, the steps are those I make in memory, in forgiveness, in understanding. I've learned to listen to the past in new ways. I've learned to embrace the past and its joys.

I took from Neff Road more than I left. Perhaps I can give back what I failed to leave behind.

Friday, May 27, 2011

For the Blue and White

I posted the suggestion on Facebook. Why not move the Alumni Banquet to August? The debate has started. Most agree. One does not. I think it is time for constructive dialogue.

I wrote on the alumni site that I would like to see the Alumni Banquet moved to August, the weekend before the Great Darke County Fair. The Banquet has always been held in the spring before the farmers get busy in the fields. The alumni aren't all farmers. Many of us live far away.

The last time I went to the banquet, I found that not many of the younger past alums were in attendance. Traveling during the school year is difficult for younger families. Summer vacations take precedence over time off to go to the banquet in the spring. I could never go when my children were small, because we went back to Ohio when the weather was warm and the children could play outside on the farm. I missed going with my parents and my sisters.

We all have memories of the fair. People still travel back to their roots to attend the fair. I would love to visit the fair with old classmates or have a picnic outside in Greenville Park. Perhaps it has to do with the school being closed for the summer, but school starts early in Darke County. So the kitchen opens a little early?!

Well, that's the opinion from a blue and white girl in Oregon. I love watching the debate on Facebook. I seem to be starting something. Time for change.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Could Not Leave

I take them for granted. They tower around us, but I give them little notice. It's a long way from Ohio to Oregon.

There are twenty-four mountains and peaks in Portland, Oregon. We live at the foot of one of them. It isn't a big mountain, but like most of the mountain areas here in Portland, Douglas Fir and other evergreen plants cling to them. With every phase of development, land is set aside as a nature refuge. I take for granted the lushness of this beautiful place.

When we came to Oregon, we drove down the Columbia Gorge. I didn't know much about this new state of ours. I studied Ohio history not Oregon. We drove across high desert into the forests. It was as if someone had drawn a line...desert on one side and lush forests on the other. It was also the line that rattle snakes did not cross. As we came around a bend in the gorge, we were met with our first view of Mt. Hood. I was literally awestruck. We pulled over so the kids and I could take it in. The regal mountain sat there looking back at us.

I have been blessed to live in two of the 'O' states. My first taught me to love the earth and all that grows from it. The second has taught me to be part of nature.

"Why don't you move back," I've been asked again and again. I could not leave Oregon. I could not leave the trees.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tucked in the Bible

The Irish Government has prohibited the National and the Orange meetings which have threatened such serious disturbance as Newry on Sunday.

The old newspaper clipping is tissue thin. As with most of the old clipping I have in the family folder, no date was included with the article. I found the clipping in the old Langston Bible. I've read it and can find no reason why it might have been saved. As far as I can tell through research of some of the other news items, this piece of old news print is from November 1883. Local and world news fill the column.

The French authorities in Paris have received no news confirming the story that Sontay and Bacninh have been evacuated by the Chinese.

A simple clipping from an old news paper gives a picture of life in my great grandmother's time.

The Saute St. Marie River is frozen over and transportation to and from Lake Superior has stopped. Business on the New York canals closed Saturday.

The paper does not look like a local paper. Was the clipping sent to the Langston home? I read and research. A page in the life and times of my family comes alive.

A saloon-keeper in Miamisburg, Ohio, has given notice that the requests not to sell liquor to drunken husbands, father and brothers will be complied with by him.

Hm.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Tattered Page

The cover is loose on the old leather bound Bible. The cover page is tattered and worn. The Bible belonged to my Great, Great Grandmother Fanny Langston. I touch the writing, a glimpse of this grandmother I could not know.









Pages. We all have pages in our lives. We write them every day. The pages go unnoticed. We assume they mean nothing. Yet, the pages are our history. This is about Fanny and her daughter Parolee, my great grandmother. Who were these women? Grandma (Mom) Johnson was not a warm person. She married very young. What did these women suffer to raise a family up in times that were so different from mine. What memories did my mother have of her grandmother?

I don't have that knowledge, but I have the pages.

Inside cover: 
Fanny Langston's Book May 10th, 1871
Property of Parolee Johnson by Inheritance March 29th, 1905.

On the other side of the page, my great grandmother wrote of her faith. I won't write all that is says, but this piece tells a great deal about the life she lead.

Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened to you in judgment and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor and will condemn all who trifle with its Sacred contents. - Parolee Johnson March 26th, 1905

A glimpse on a tattered page.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Girl in Black

The booth sat on the midway near the pony rides not far from the race track. The smell of ponies and cotton candy sat on the hot summer air. An August day in the mid 1950's.

Artists sketch whimsical faces of children and adults. We watch them when we go to Seaside using their color pencils as they sketch tourists. Visitors go home with a souvenirs of their journey to the Pacific Ocean. My ex and I had such a drawing made on our honeymoon. I have pictures sketched of my children. Art that takes us from the past to the present wrapped in warm memories of a moment in time.

Mom dressed me in my best Sunday dress. A little pink frock with a row of buttons and rows of lace down the front. I didn't have many new dresses. I remember each one. My hair was combed and styled. This little country urchin wore her white patten leather shoes. I knew I was off to do something special. I knew because it wasn't Sunday.

We walked down the midway of the fairgrounds past the souvenir vendor. The smell of ponies permeated the air. I remember the day well. My parents and I stopped in front of a man sitting on a chair. He sat clipping, scissors in hand and bits of black paper scattered on the ground around him like fallen snow. His art had roots that began in the 18th century. Profiles captured in paper before photography came to visit.

For years the silhouette of that little girl has gone from home to home in box after box. It has resided in a box with all the other family papers collected over the years. Finally I pulled it from the box.

"This is me," I told my granddaughters.

They gathered around the shadow on paper touching the profile skillfully cut. The story unfolded of a little girl in her pink dress with a bow in her hair. A piece of my history and the history of another time came to life.

I don't think I sat atop one of those ponies that day. No, I was dressed in my Sunday best to preserve the memory of a special day at the fair.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bovine Conversation

The cows lowed in the field. The deep bellow that began deep inside of the large bovine, traveling up the throat of the beast, coming out in an arpeggio of sound that seemed to come from the tail of the cow. Mournful at best, I grew up with the lowing of cattle in the fields.

I think perhaps I took those cows residing in our barn for granted. They didn't do much. They mooed. They were pros at making cow pies. And they ate hay and grass. Eat, Moo, Poo. Cows.

Perhaps it sounds a bit strange, but I miss the smell of the cows and sheep and chickens. I miss the smells that accompanied my life. The smell of freshly cut hay. The smell of Mom's laundry on the line. The smell of grass freshly cut. The smell of the tobacco shed, the haymow, the corn crib. The smells of the past that surprise me when I stumbled across them now and then.

The old cows bellowed, and I didn't know to listen. I didn't know that some day I would wonder why I didn't sit on the fence more often enjoying a bovine conversation. Yes, I know. Not everyone thinks the way I do. But then if they did, perhaps I wouldn't tickle those memories from the past.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Thread

"You don't know me, but......"

Since I began writing the weekly column for the local paper back on Neff Road, messages from others who have their roots there knock on my virtual door. Well, it's not a door. It's more like a message on Facebook or a note in my email box. Once more I am home meeting someone from my past and many times people I don't know.

I love hearing their stories. Theirs are mine as well. The dialogue begins with a memory and takes us far beyond. Today I received a note from a woman who grew up lived near Shuff's Implement Store. My dad worked there. She would walk down to the shop and visit with him. Best of all, she was baptized in our creek. I had no idea. Another chapter in my parents' lives opened to me. I did not know this woman, but now I do. Once more I am on Neff Road with a friend.

I have heard from those who live in Greenville. We talk about the old stores. Who ran which store? When did it close? All part of that thread. A strong thread.

Many of the people I know in Darke County are in their nineties. Some are centenarians. My mother would be 100 next year. I'm thrilled to know that many read the column. I want to give back. I want them to know they are important to me. Once a week I can stop in and say 'hello'. Once a week, we can walk through the past and remember.

Perhaps someday I will add their stories to mine. Maybe it is a history we write together. Not just the history of a time or a location. No, it is the story of the people on Neff Road.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Adoring Eyes

Elegant and lovely, my mother sits looking over the lake as he adoring looks at her. Ah, a picture to inspire a romance novel.

I get past my first musings over this picture and ask myself, "Who the heck is this man?!" Not my father. Hm. Puzzles. The pictures in her album, nameless, site-less. They are puzzles. My mind runs over the names mentioned in the past. Was this Doc, Wilbur? Who was this man? Did her future husband know that she was adored by other men? Of course, she was. She was beautiful, this mother of mine.

I get a chuckle whenever I look through the old pictures. Those nameless people could be family....or not. I look for features that might have been handed down to the current generation. I look for locations trying to envision them the way they were before my time. Most of the time, I'm just lost. Who are these people?

As I said, my mother was beautiful. I never knew her the way she looked then. I wish I had. I place the personality I knew as her daughter to the old picture and know that she was a fun, loving woman. It takes me back in time and makes my heart ache a little. I can still hear her voice and feel her loving arms around me. I'm grateful for this woman. But, Mom, who is this guy????

It dawned on me that I don't have these elegant pictures of myself. Maybe we as photographers forget to go for the beauty of the photo opting for a quick picture of a person. Last weekend, a photographer and I were talking about new photography. We crop pictures. We center pictures around faces. We forget that generations from now will look in on this moment in time. I look at the old pictures and see the clothing. The hairstyles. The old cars. The landscape of a time long gone. I look at old houses remembering what I can of them. I look at my history. Perhaps I need to leave more history for my grandchildren.

Mother was a beautiful woman. A beautiful young woman. I'd never seen her this young, yet here she is before me now.

Oh, Mom, who... is... this... man?

Postscript: My sister, Peggy, is sure that the man is my father. I'm still not convinced.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Simple Things

Missing the wildflowers. Missing all of those wonderful flowers that bloom only in the spring.

Dad and I loved to walk in the woods. We didn't pass a flower without Dad asking me the name of the plant. Dutch Man's Britches, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, tiny Violets, Trilliums, Buttercups, Ginger. So many lovely flowers filling a little girl's memories.

I haven't walked in the woods here. I'm not sure they call them woods here. We have forests. Big forests. Enormous forests. I probably should find someone who knows the flora here and talk them into a training session for me. I think maybe I owe it to the memory of my father to pass on the wildflower tradition. Maybe I owe it to myself.

Sometimes I forget the simple things in life. A simple walk down a lane. Passing fields planted by the hard work of the farmer. The smell of hay ripe and freshly cut. The sight of a doe standing at the forest edge. Nature. The simple breathing in and breathing out of this earth.

The earth. We take it for granted. The Dutchman's Britches hang in a row waiting for some child to come along and enjoy. Perhaps we should take the child in us and find new ways to see old things and old ways to discover things we have forgotten.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dialogue

Dialogue. Taking us from one place to another. A tool for learning, creating, discovering and healing. Dialogue.

My column in the Advocate has started dialogue. I'm always excited to look at my email to see who came to visit. Old friends of our family, school mates, those who lived in the area journey back in time with me each week. Dialogue.

Thanks to many of you, I am learning more of my roots. In the decades long gone, I have forgotten many of the stories and old landmarks. For many of those years, I was too young to know what to ask, too young to care. A history that both reader and writer share is the purpose of my daily return to Neff Road on my blog and a weekly visit with my roots via the Advocate. We shared a journey. Perhaps we knew one another. Perhaps not. Still the soil beneath our farms, the circle in Greenville, the familiar halls of Franklin School, the cobblestone of Arcanum and the seasons that changed, place us all on the pages of Darke County history.

I love my dialogue with you. My sisters join the dialogue by pointing out the discrepancies between their memories and mine. We traveled through our childhood years at different times. We knew our parents in different ways. For those grandmothers I never knew, my sister fill in the blanks. We share the struggle of those years and life on a farm in the 1940's, 50's and 60's. We share the losses and cherish the joys. Dialogue.

Recently, I heard about a study researching the link between gregarious people and their love of their past. I guess I fit both. I love people and my roots. Perhaps my reaching out to others, enjoying the repartee is part of my dialogue with the rest of the people in this world who share a bigger dialogue. We all to some degree share a past. Those in India, those in Micronesia, those in New Zealand and other parts of the world are our neighbors.

We share a story, you and I. We are pieces that fit into the same Neff Road puzzle piecing together a history. Stories, yours and mine.

Dialogue.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fishy Memories

"Try a taste," I urge my granddaughter.

"No, I don't like it," she adamantly replies.

"You'll like it."

"No I won't."

"How can you not like it? When I was your age........"

We grew up loving fried fish. It wasn't that we lived where we could walk out the door and fish from a stream by our front yard. It wasn't that my dad went out on a boat daily for a catch of saltwater fish. We were farmers. Yet, I think maybe we came from a long line of those fishermen who sat on the banks of the rivers, ponds and streams catching food to feed his family. Fish and fishing was loved in the Loxley home.

Dad loved to fish. I might even go as far as to say that he loved to fish as much as he loved to sing. On trips to Michigan, Dad spent most of his time in a motor boat out on Lake Hamlin with Uncle Sam. Fried catfish, sun fish, blue gill, crappie, they all found their way to the table in the kitchen behind the store overlooking the lake. In the winter, Dad sat on the ice fishing with my uncle. Michigan smelt seasonally ended up on our plates, and we were thrilled.

We fished for bass and pan fish by Grandad's pond. Well, we never caught the bass, but we certainly did see them teasingly jump from the water. I learned early on to bait a hook and to throw back the small fish.

I haven't fished since I moved to Oregon. Here the catch is usually from the blue Pacific or the icy streams. Salmon and trout seem to be the main catch. I'm sure my friends here would laugh if I picked up an old pole, a bobber and a tin of worms to go sit on the banks of a stream hoping to catch some pan fish.

I miss that smell of fish cooking in our kitchen. I don't miss the bones, but every morsel pulled free was worth the effort.

I wish my granddaughters had known Dad. They would have cherished those times pulling fish off the hook, landing them in Mom's cast iron skillet.

My daughter went to the beach a few weeks ago coming home with Dungeness crab. I licked the butter from my fingers enjoying every morsel. There are benefits to living in Oregon, but, oh, how I miss that old cast iron skilled and a kitchen filled with the smell of frying fish.

"Come on, just one bite......."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You're It

My son is currently in the show 'Secret Garden'. A scene in this production consists of a game of Drop the Handkerchief. Suddenly, memories descended on me as I watched the show, and I was once more a little girl jumping rope and playing games with my friends.

I'm not sure where I had tucked away those memories. We have those 'aha' moments when sudden awareness brings on the smiles. I began to list other games I might have forgotten.

Red Rover, Kick the Can, Tag, Duck Duck Goose, London Bridge, Ring Around the Rosey, Mumblety Peg, Freeze Tag, Shadow Tag, Leap Frog, Dodge Ball, Follow the Leader, Hop Scotch, Red Rover, Button Button, Hide and Seek, One Potato Two Potato, Farmer in the Dell, Mother May I, Tug of War, Crack the Whip, Capture the Flag, Blind Man's Bluff, Follow the Leader. The flood gate opened and  I was a kid again.

I asked my granddaughters if they had ever played 'Drop the Handkerchief'.

"No," they said in unison.

I asked my daughter and got the same response.

Tic Tac Toe, Hang Man, Jacks, Marbles, Chinese Checkers, Dominoes are still played today as are various forms of the old games made new again.

I think we learned something from those old games. Groups of children played together. The games were all inclusive. We laughed a lot and made memories with classmates. We hid in the dark and ran like the wind.

I will be seeing some old classmates in July. I wonder if anyone will have a handkerchief?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Windows

The house was built in 1928. I look out the window and wonder who the people were who looked out this same window. An old farm house now surrounded by neighborhoods. What was the view from this window? Were there crops? Perhaps livestock. What happened to the children who played in the yard? What memories will my son and his wife have over the years in this house? The view from a window.

Sometimes I think we take windows for granted. I played in the window of our old house back the lane. When I was little, I was told the house was about 65 years old. Originally, it was an old log house. This was even more of a reality to us when the kitchen was remodeled, and we saw the huge, hand hewn beams in the walls. The window sills were set as deep as the logs in the walls.

I sat in the window throughout my youth watching for sisters to come home. Watching storms and snow falling on the fields. I sat watching horses and buggies cross the bridge. And, more times than not, I sat watching for Brenda to walk up our lane.

When the farm was sold, I sat at each window in the upstairs looking out at a landscape I would never see again in the same way. I told the house that I loved it. I touched the woodwork and said I would remember. I sat in the nursery where June and I slept looking out at the barn lot where I first saw my horse. I sat in my room remembering how the old elm tree stood sentry outside my room.

My son doesn't want to walk back to the house when we return in July. He has asked if I would take his wife to see the old place. I hope we can walk into the house. I would like to show Lisa the place that holds so many memories. I want to show her the view from the window.

Windows.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Walk With Mom

"How about Rose of Sharon?" my son asked.

"I think we had that on the farm over in the side yard," I replied.

My son and I were spending Mother's Day at Al's Nursery looking for plants for his new yard.

"Those are a new hybrid Peony," I told my son. "It is a cross between the Tree Peony and those Mom had at the farm. She had those in the little triangle of yard next to Hollie's field. We carried them on Memorial Day at Newcomers."

"We love Hydrangeas," he said as we passed two rows of the plants.

"Mom had a Snow Ball bush next to the house."

"I'm not really that crazy about Hens and Chicks," he continued as we walked by the Succulents.

"I know, but ours are special because they came from Mom's flower bed." Flowers from Ohio thriving in Oregon.

On and on we walked, not missing an aisle.

"We need something to keep critters out of the garden," my son said as we walked by the garden plants.

"Mom always had marigolds and zinnias."

We walked through the garden center. Row by row, comment by comment. A son and his mother spent a day together......with Grandma.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mom

This piece will be on both of my blogs today.

Sometimes I called her Mom. Other times I called her Mother. Once in a great while I called her Mommy. Those times were when I was an adult. My mom.

I wrote this piece years ago. Once more I post this for my remarkable mother.

 Ruth

The woman lived almost her entire eighty-eight years on the same square mile of land.
Yet she touched more lives than most of us will ever know.
Her mission was the life she lead.

No one was ever a stranger.
No one ever wanted for a meal or a bed.

She took in several youth who were homeless giving them a family.
Gave temporary shelter to kids in trouble.
Babysat for anyone who ever asked.

The church was her life.
She was choir director, custodian, Sunday school teacher, on every committee.

She'd wake before the sun did and cooked each meal as the day progressed
for a dozen hungry farm hands.

She killed the chickens,
made the soap,
planted crops
and raised three babies.

She saw her sisters date gangsters
and fell in love at nine with her future husband.

She was a fantastic cook who never used a cookbook.
She never said 'no' to anything.
She fought for children's rights before we admitted they had them.
She was color blind to the shades of humanity.
She never believed that there was anything she couldn't do.

She never saw a stranger and opened her house
to exchange students,
travelers,
cousins ten times removed.

She buried her parents, her three siblings and her husband.
She always had a song on her lips and in her heart.
She was loved and loved like few ever have.
She impacted more lives than we will ever know.

Now she lives in a world growing more silent as her hearing fails.
She is frail and tiny, looking at her last days.
But she is beautiful.
The song still remains on her lips and in her heart.

She is bright and has the handwriting of her twenties.
Still she has an open heart and fails to understand the narrow-mindedness of mankind.
She sits and crochets with her aching hands and plays the piano like a ragtime pro.

She is a lovely sight to behold, this mother of mine.
We should all have such mission in life to change it for the better.
I had a good example.
I think I'll pass it on.

My mother passed four months after I wrote this piece. It became her eulogy. The real tribute to her life is the legacy she passed on. My mother was laughter and love. Her name was Ruth Johnson, my mom.

Oh, Mom, I miss you.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Get With the Program

"Wasn't Grandma and Grandpa's church program printed on pre-printed paper? They just had to add the information inside?" my son asked while we waited for the service to begin.

The programs we held were printed at the church. All pages personalized for the church making the most of the papers handed to the members of the congregation. I hadn't realized until that moment how church programs had changed over time.

The church program was sometimes the only thing to entertain a little girl sitting on the pew between her parents. Mom's purse was usually full of fun little toys, but often she had no paper. There was no children's Sunday school during church. No, we all sat there until the service was over then went to our classes. During that church time, the program was decorated with games of tic-tac-toe, dots and squares, hangman, pictures of animals. Church was where I learned to fold a program to make a hat or a boat. The program was the tool to keep a little girl quiet in the most delightful ways.

In my treasures from the past, I found an old church program from 1939. In it are two generations of my family. In it are the names, the roots, of those who would grow up in the church with me. A history in a piece of paper that usually was just tossed aside.

I wonder why my mother kept this program. Maybe it was a new type of programs printed for the first time. Personally, I think it might have been saved for the names written on the front of the program written by my mother's hand.

I love the lighthearted back page of the program. The scribbles would have been by my oldest sister's hand. I wonder if my mother, on that Sunday in September, realized she was most likely pregnant with her next daughter.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

By Her Hand

The pictures is primitive at best. Obviously, the image of a dog. The tattered piece of paper had been kept for a reason unknown to me, only known to the artist who, with crayon, drew the black dog. At the top of the paper, in cursive, was  in my mother penmanship her name.


I came across this picture tucked in her old photo album. The paper is yellowed, tattered. Why did she keep this piece of art? This picture is a treasure found between pages. It is the only art I have seen from my mother's hand. A piece of paper that allows me to see a part of her I didn't know. A budding artist who left her dreams to work hard on the farm raising her daughters, feeding farm hands and caring for the man she had always loved.

Dreams for farm women were just that, dreams. I know that Mom wanted to go to college. She was smart, creative and had a father who was not about to spend money to educate a girl. A few women who lived around Neff Road had gone on to become secretaries, school teachers. And, many of those same women still ended up in the kitchen and in the field, their dreams put away in order to give their man his life as a farmer. Dreams.

I'm sad that my mother never had the opportunity to follow her dreams. Her life was full. She gave it everything thing she had including her health. She didn't complain or look back verbally to the 'what ifs'. Mom made her life about others. She gave and gave. Sometimes I wonder if she gave so passionately in order to put her dreams behind her.

This small piece of paper, this unknown dog, gives me a glimpse into the woman my mother might have been had she had the right to follow her dreams. For all of the power I knew that was my mother, she could have done great things. And, in her way, putting her dreams aside, she did great things. Mom should have been an ambassador. She could have changed the world.....and in her own way, she changed the world for many.

Who were you little dog? Were you a pet she loved? We you an idea that my mother put onto paper trying her hand at drawing? Whatever you were, little dog, you are a piece of my mother, a piece I didn't know. Along with pieces drawn by my hand, you will move on to tell a story to other generations. A drawing by my mother's hand.

Arf.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Culture Came to the Farm

Culture came to the farm. It came in many guises. The door was always open. Sometimes it came on a bus. Sometimes it came in a car. Sometimes it came with tickets to the performances at Memorial Hall. Later it would come with shows at Anticolis and lobster at the Brown Derby. Culture came to Neff Road.

Our home was not stranger to foreigners. The Loxley girls learned about other cultures by the people who stopped in to stay for awhile. Friends, friends of friends, exchange students. They came to the Loxley door, ate at the Loxley table and slept in the Loxley guest room.

The singing group from Piney Woods, Mississippi, introduced a future girl of the 60's to a widening world. Her parents opened the door and invited them to our table.

Our parents knew how important it was to expose their daughters to entertainment. Orchestras, instrumentals, vocalist, actors, we were given it all to savor. We were given pictures into a world far from the farm.

Mom and Dad loved to go to the city for dinner and a play or musical. Their world widened even after they had opened the doors for their children and were alone once more.

We grew up wanting to experience more of the world around us.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Vermin in the Hen House

The hen house erupted in a riotous uproar. The quiet of the evening was broken by the sounds of terror ripping the silence to shreds. Dad went for his gun.

Raised in a pacifist home, I was a child who detested guns and fighting. Yet, when Dad picked up his gun, we knew it was for protection of his livestock, his farm, his family. There was no debate. Dad disappeared into the darkness gun in hand.

As a child, I was terrified when the noises erupted. The animals were good at warning of threat. Once in a great while, someone would sneak back the lane going to the back of the barn to steal gasoline from our tank. The dog sounded the alert, and again Dad picked up his gun.

There was vermin always ready to find a meal in the hen house. The eggs were part of our livelihood, our food. I may not like chickens, but they were essential to our life back the lane. Dad was always fearless and ready to protect his own.

Often we saw Dad go out to investigate possible intruders, human and animal. When tornadoes were a threat, Dad sent his family to the basement while he checked the animals, the barns. He was our protector never thinking about himself, always doing his duty to animal and family. I feared every time he walked out the door to do the task. I feared the night that might hurt him.

A president gave the order. A nation became stronger, braver. Justice was finally served. There are times to pick up the gun. There are times to rid the chicken house of vermin.