Like most of the people we knew, we didn’t have a car, so we never went anywhere at night we couldn’t walk, except for once. Mama got the news that there was to be a brush arbor revival in Cuthand, hosting a guest evangelist! To my everlasting amazement, we were going! We put quilts in the back of the wagon, since we’d be getting home long after dark. We hopped up in the wagon dressed in our best, headed for the revival, in a holiday spirit long before dark. I had no idea what a revival was, but couldn’t have been more excited than a kid headed for the fair!
We pulled up to find dozens of wagons parked next to a brush-arbor in a clearing, a simple roof of branches on a make-do support sheltering rough benches. Though it was summer, a few small fires were smoldering, their smoke intended to discourage mosquitoes. Before long, the song leader got us fired up with a rousing rendition of “Onward Christian Soldiers.” The singing was wonderful, but eventually gave way to the Hell-fire and brimstone sermon, something that didn’t thrill me nearly so much.
It was late by the time the preacher concluded the altar call, releasing us. After visiting a bit with our neighbors, we headed for home, long after the time I was usually in bed. I lay in the back of the wagon with Annie and John on the quilts, looking at the magical night sky. Travelling under its full moon and sparkling stars was a gift. A slight breeze cooled us, keeping the mosquitoes at bay. As the horse clomped along, Mama and Daddy told stories and talked amiably. With all those I loved around me, I never wanted this night to end.
This is from my book Everything Smells Just Like Poke Salad, available on Amazon. Click on link to right to purchase. I’d be grateful if you’d leave a review.
to be continued
As I hold my tiny granddaughter, I remember melting into my grandma’s pillowy softness and smelling her Cashmere Bouquet Talcum Powder unaware she’d ever played any role but “Grandma.” Though I’d always heard Mother address her as “Mama” I stung with jealousy when I found out Grandma actually was her mother. I felt as though they’d somehow cheated me by knowing each other first. My first conscious memory was of toddling barefoot behind Grandma as we headed out to see her chickens. I spotted a road-grader and strayed off the path to investigate, stepping into a nest of sand-burrs, those mean little stickers that hide in short grass. I howling as Grandma hurried over with her flat-edged shovel and seated me on it as she pulled the stickers out of my tender feet.
We went on to check on the chickens where Grandma praised Della, her Dominecker Hen for laying a double-yoked egg yesterday, remarking to the others they might consider doing the same. She told Sally not to start acting “Broody.” She didn’t have enough eggs to “set” her yet. She counted her chickens and found Susie missing. Grandma got a long stick and poked under bushes till she flushed Susie out from her “stolen” nest. I felt so important crawling way under the bush bringing back two warm eggs. Chiding Juanita, a ornerny red hen, she threatened to invite her to Sunday Dinner, saying “You’ll make some mighty fine dumplings if you don’t lay a couple of eggs this week!” I wasn’t that invested in Juanita and don’t recall whether we had dumplings or not.
The barn fascinated me most of all as I peeked through the crack between its chained doors at the child’s table and chairs stored in its mysterious shadowy interior. My grandparents and uncle had only rented the furnished house. The barn and its contents were off limits to me. Nothing could have made it more desirable as I imagined the treasures it held. Surely, there was a tricycle, a wagon, and since it was a barn, of course, a pony! The longer I was denied, the more the list grew. Never was a child so deprived or tormented by desire.
I do hope my little one recalls sweet stories of our our times together one day.