Saturday, June 1, 2019

To Remember For Years, Remember With Tears

Brent, me, Ian and Keaton, standing between the
spring and the barn and house of my childhood.
When you finally go back to your old home you find it wasn't the old home you missed but your childhood. 
Sam Ewing

Today, with son Brent and grandsons Ian and Keaton, I went back in time--way back-- to the farm that was our family home from the time I was age six to sixteen.

We first revisited the site of the little Norfolk and Western train station at Stuarts Draft where our family arrived early one morning in early March of 1946 after a long trip from Kansas. My brave mother, with me and my seven older siblings, could hardly wait to be reunited with my father, who had arrived earlier in a freight car loaded with our furniture, our two horses and some farm machinery. Today I relived some of that excitement, along with the heartache of my father having to break the sad news that our family dog had disappeared at their first stop at the massive rail yard in St. Louis and couldn't be found anywhere in spite of my father's desperate efforts.

I again recalled moving on to our newly purchased 120 acre farm, and into a large house which at first was without electricity or running water, still a new thing in that part of rural Virginia. I remembered the days when, with help from our new Amish neighbors, we constructed a 20-stanchion dairy barn and a 4000 capacity broiler house and when a long ditch was dug by hand to pipe the needed water from the spring house at the bottom of the hill to supply our family and for the dairy and poultry operation that was to provide our living.

I remember getting up in an unheated bedroom at 5:30 at a very young age to help with the chores, with the milking and with feeding our livestock and broilers, before going off to school. And the countless hours of play along the little spring fed stream running through our pasture and along our weeping willow trees until it passed under the dirt road and on to our neighbor's farm and beyond.

Ah, memories.

Four ducks on a pond,
A grass bank beyond.
A blue sky of spring,
White clouds on the wing;
What a little thing
To remember for years-
To remember with tears! 

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