Falling out of the Field

In my youth, my father told a story about falling out of the field while plowing. This happened on the upper 32 acres, which we have always called “the Mountain”. For many years, I believed the story an exaggeration, but not any more. I spent a little time up there last winter, and am now convinced that attempting to plow the hillside could easily result in mule and farmer falling out of the field. The area is surrounded by steep hillsides, and if it could be magically stretched out, would likely cover nearly 100 acres. Much of this part of the county is like this and our lower (by about 35 feet) 52 acres is very similar. The Mountain is the highest accessible point in Sabine County. One point on the San Augustine County line is a few feet higher, but no roads go to it.

It took hardy stock to farm this land. Every time I walk it, I am amazed that my grandfather was able to scratch a living out of it, where the most abundant natural feature is lots of red rocks. Where the land is not red dirt, filled with rock, it is sand. The sand at the house place is three feet deep. Somehow, with a mule and lots of guts, the family produced 1 bale of cotton per year at the height of the depression. At $.05 a pound, 600 pounds of cotton brought $30.00 at the Gin. With that, my Grandfather had to provide clothes and shoes for the school year. My father and his siblings had to walk the two and a bit miles on the Sand Road to the schoolhouse in Geneva. Life was hardscrabble here in the 30s, and I’m sure my family story is not unique. I take pride in having family roots here.

The Old Homeplace

My travel trailer is located by the house built by my Grandfather, Acie Smith, in 1946. The house is now uninhabitable, but still standing. How long it will stand is anybody’s guess. For now, it evokes many fond memories of my childhood.

My earliest memory is a painful one. I had a bad case of Shingles, and my back was one huge scab. The house was new, and did not yet have steps at the kitchen door. I got too close to the threshold, slipped and slid down the raw edge on my back, ripping the scab off and taking with it dozens of what we called cores. It left behind holes in my back, and 70 years later, the scar is still visible. After that, I healed quickly, but to this day I am careful about getting too close to the edge of a dropoff.

More pleasant memories are of lying in front of the blazing fireplace and reading the Sears, Roebuck catalog. As the years went by, I progressed from roller skates, to bicycles, to guns, to motorcycles. Somewhere in that progression, I started taking peeks at the women’s underwear pages, but we won’t talk about that.

The kitchen was my favorite place. There were always good smells, and I got my first taste of very sweet coffee with lots of milk there. My Grandmother “Nanny” made the best biscuits I’ve ever tasted, topped with home-churned butter and sprinkled with sugar. My brothers and sisters can attest to the fact that her Coconut Cake was the best ever. It was a vanilla cake with either hickory nuts from the front yard tree, or black walnuts from the back yard. We kids were often tasked with cracking and picking the meat from the very hard shells but never complained because the reward was worth the effort. Sadly for us, the recipe went to Heaven with her, but I’ll bet the angels love it.

The old house should be torn down, but none of us want to do it. We all have wonderful memories, and when I look at if I can still see my Grandmother in her kitchen, mixing her wonderful cake.

Growing Old Gracefully

Sounds like something we should all do, doesn’t it? Well, that ain’t gonna happen. I’m old, but I am not going to act like an old man. No front porch rocking chair for me. I’ll celebrate 75 years of annoying others by not acting my age in December, and look forward to more.

During the hunting season, I live in a travel trailer in Sabine County Texas on family land, and spend a good deal of time in the woods.  The rest of the year, I live in Panama and ride my motorcycle to get around.

I make and shoot slingshots, I like old cowboy movies, and I listen to a lot of 50s and 60s Rock and Roll. My heroes are Roy Rogers, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Audie Murphy. My all-time favorite author is Louis La’Amour, and I am still searching for the few stories I haven’t read or do not own.

I’m a libertarian, which means I believe in small government, no more than needed to maintain order, pave the roads, and deliver the mail. We have a whole lot more than we need, but fortunately not as much as we pay for. I think Democrats and Republicans, in large part, are enemies of the Constitution.

With that in mind, join me in my often rambling, sometimes coherent thoughts as I wend my way through what are supposed to be my golden years, though I have yet to see any gold.