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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Jefferson City, Tennessee

I am here to say goodbye to the land where I spent so much of my youth. This was my Grandfather's farm. My Dad was born and raised upon this red clay. I spent every Summer for years in this very place. When my Dad died, my brother and I made the decision to sell the farm to our cousin. The farm will remain in the family as it should be. There is building going on all around the little homestead....half a million and million dollar homes are being built on old Groseclose Road. So very different from the tiny house where my Grandfather lived. The road was named for my Grandfather and his brother Bill. They were never apart a day in their lives. One owned a farm on each side of the road and spent their lives there, never venturing too far from it's rugged fence posts and ramshackle barns. One of my cousins now owns her father's tract of land and another will own Grandpa's. They butt up to a wonderful dairy farm so this area will, at least for a great number of years, thankfully remain family farms. My daughter Grace and I walked down the old road and I took in the sights and smells and sounds....the cows warily mooing back and forth, warning one another about these trespassers.The songbirds calling to one another and filling the heavy air with music. The hornets busily building shelter. The sweet smell of fresh mown hay....the hazy late Summer sky. The old house will be torn down soon. The grass surrounding it is long and thick and bordered by a rusted chain link fence whose lopsided gate swings open with just the slightest breeze. It has been empty for many years and needs to go to make way for a newer, more modern home. Still, at one time, the little white house with the tin roof held lots of laughing cousins. Each child giggling as they tore through the kitchen chasing yet another barn kitten, the screen door loudly banging shut with each entrance and exit. My Aunt, endlessly it seemed, cooking over her beloved coal stove, would call out, "You' ins stop all that ruckus right now ya heah?" But we all knew she never really meant it. My Grandpa could always be heard to shout out, "Sister? Let those children be!" We could do no wrong with him. We would play tag amidst the wet laundry flapping in the breeze, tease one another about dropping a favorite toy into the deep well, or feeding the mules, horses, goats and cows while we argued over what names we would have given them. "Rocket!" "No...Buttercup". "Are you girls crazy?", the boys would shout almost in unison. "How about Commando?" *insert screaming girls* "Princess! No! Queenie!" And no matter where we were, Barry, my Grandpa's beagle, was there as well. There were beans to pick and cows to milk, horses to ride and eggs to fetch. There were stalls to clean, a porch to sweep and tomatoes to gather (and throw at one another). There were picnics in the field and at Cherokee Dam. There were sparklers and fire crackers illuminating the stark darkness and startling the aging banty rooster out in the Hen house. There were boys searching for arrowheads by poking sharpened sticks and girls laying on their backs watching the clouds roll by. They took turns playing "What Do You See?" . "A Horse?" "Nooo...that's an elephant silly." "An elephant? That there is a unicorn!" There were feather beds piled high with home made quilts resting atop creaky iron beds. There was an old coal stove in the middle of the living room and no television. Just a staticy old radio where my Aunt and Grandfather would listen to a Knoxville country station late into the evening while rocking on the front porch. The cousins would giggle and tickle one another until my Aunt called, " Mornin' will come early enough now. Stop all that silliness and ya'll go to sleep." We would fall asleep listening to the cricket's night time serenade, the gentle cadence of the rocking chairs and those old country songs playing on that radio. Those cousins are mostly all grandparents now and we are all scattered far and wide. We stay in touch via Christmas cards, email and the parents, aunts and uncles who are still with us. It was time to say goodbye to the little house but also to smile as I remembered the laughter, the innocence, the love.

11 comments:

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Susie, what a wonderful story about your childhood growing up. Sounds like some preety sweet memories to me. And what a beautiful part of the country. I know you must have had a great time remembering it all. Glad it is staying in the family after all.

Loved all the pics! Reminds me of some of my childhood memories too.

Rhoda

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Oh, and congrats on your prizes from Donna! She's a talented lady.

Rhoda

T*mmy said...

Oh gal...you need to submit this post to the "Dew on the Kudzu" Southern Magazine blog...they would love it!!
:)

Pamela said...

chills down my spine... ad out to the tips of my fingers.
A wonderful story - and beautiful shots of your old stompin' grounds.

Maybe it's just "see you later" and not goodbye.

I hope so.

(T*mmy has a good idea)

LisaOceandreamer said...

What absolutely beautiful country and what fantastic memories you have to keep it alive. Your grandpa sounds like he was quite a guy. It seems the days are gone when simple play are over. Now it's video games and Ipods and cell phones and kids don't know how to make their own fun like that.
Very sweet to read this.
XOXO

Carolyn said...

I hope you have a book in the works, because the way you can share a memory does more than bring it to life! LOL, just so you keep blogging. ;-) I was riveted to your childhood memories here. Loved it. What rich, rich, times you had there. Farms, cows, horses, country, colorful family members, love, and fun. What that house held for you two on this trip was wonderful! My first time to Jefferson, and loved it. Great post. :-)

Sheila said...

Sue I've loved all the pictures of your trip. This post and the memories of your childhood, made me teary eyed. What a lovely picture you paint of an idyllic childhood. Every child should have summers and times like this to look back on. I'm glad you were able to show Grace where you came from, and that the property will stay in the family.
Thank you for a lovely Sunday morning read..!
hugs
xx

TK Angels said...

I loved reading about your childhood. I didn't get to know you as one of my best friends until high school.

Take care,
Love,
Terri

Carrie J said...

Another familiar area. I love the little town of Dandridge. Have you ever eaten at the grill/drugstore there? I think it is called Bibles, where you can get a Bible Burger! LOL
Your childhood sounds so much like mine it is almost scary. I grew up in South Alabama on my grandparents
300 acre farm. I remember so many family gatherings that sounded just like yours. I'm the only one who moved away and sometimes I wonder if I should have. I miss having extended family around. I love living in Tennessee though. It does feel like home to me. I certainly don't miss the Alabama heat and humidity, especially during summers like this one we are having.

Coleen said...

Wow, as I read that I could feel what it must have been like to spend time there. Your memories retold are always so vivid. I love hearing them I am deeply sorry you were there again under sad circumstances. It's always hard to say goodbye. But I imagine it is exceptionally hard given your years of history there.

Sonny said...

My sister (Carrie) directed me to your site. Your pictures are wonderful and make me want to go see. The story about the gathering brought tears to my eyes for all the days gone by. I only hope that my children will have memories like that. My sister is right,she is sorely missed here but the heat and humidity is a killer. The temperature today was 98 with a heat index of something like 105? I think that was what one of thr radio stations said.To make matters worse it rained for about 15 mins and raised the humidity of what feels like 120%.*LOL*