Peace on the Farm

By Louise Hambrick Caddess

 

 

          In my mind’s eye, I can see the wonders of God’s love, and the beauty of the wonderful world as I reminisce of the by-gone days.  Days when airplanes had not filled the sky; distances of travel to countries in faraway lands could not be traveled in hours by jets; radios and TVs were not forever reminding us of wars and sad happenings.  Most of all, people of this universe were not racing to see which country could send guided missiles into the wide-open spaces of the heavens, meddling with the creation of God’s works, and becoming angry when one country showed more advancement with the space age than the other.

            If we could only go back to the peace and quiet of a little farm in Attala County, hidden from the view of the ever-racing  cars on the highways, and the noises of the city, I feel we would take time to enjoy the beauties of nature, the song of the birds, and in every rose petal or every leaf on the trees, we could find God’s handiwork more beautiful than all creations of man.  We never take time to enjoy these beauties today.  We are too eager to rush with the crowd.  If God should take the colors out of the vegetation and the songs from the birds, this old world would be a drab place in which to live.

            The little farm that I have mentioned that holds sweet memories for me, was owned by my dear Grandfather and Grandmother, A.O. and Etta Tyler Bond, who are now deceased.  Many feet trampled through its gates, and many heartbreaks and much happiness was shared within.  Children and grandchildren would come and go, always leaving with hopes of returning again to enjoy the feeling of contentment and peace.

            I well recall how happy we were --  Harvey, Juanita and I – when mother and daddy would plan a trip to our grandparents.  Mother would don us in our very best, and at that time, we wouldn’t complain if she rubbed our faces too hard or wanted us to help with the chores.  On our way, we were so excited and happy, and almost praying some neighbors of our grandparents, the Wrights, would not see us pass their home, for fear they would phone our grandparents to let them know we were on our way.  We wanted to surprise them.  Very few times we were ever that lucky, though.  We would finally get to the road that left the main road.  This road was to lead us to our destination.  It was half-hidden by bushes and trees, but led us to the place we thought was paradise.  As we were atop a hill near the house, we could see someone standing on the porch or near the gate waiting to greet us.

            As a child, this seemed to be an endless journey, because I was too eager to get to this haven and to meet and greet those we knew were waiting for us.  As my dad chugged the old car down the hill, we would park under a large oak tree just outside of the yard.  The outstretched branches of the tree harbored our car as it seemed to be standing there waiting to provide a shelter for it.  As we would greet those we loved, we would go through the gate into the yard, our young hearts throbbing with happiness.  We almost always would see roses blooming on the bushes that Grandmother cherished.  We could not help but be reminded that dinner was cooking.  The aroma of the ham frying, and the coffee beans roasting cannot be described.

The house was spacious, well-worn by years, but to me it was more beautiful than the finest of mansions, because the memories involved within its walls can never be erased from the minds of those who loved it so.  The wide-open hall separated the living quarters.  It was a place to bring comfort and relaxation to the family and friends.  There were no air conditioners when the days were hot and humid, but air was provided almost all of the time, as a gentle breeze could be felt most of the time.  At the end of the long hall was a small room which was used to store the separator in.  If one should ask children of this generation what a separator is, very few would know.  I used to watch milk being poured into the large container, and when a wheel was turned, the cream would flow through one section into a bucket, and the skim milk would go into another bucket.  This always fascinated me.

            I well remember the old organ – the type that required much pressure to the pedals to bring out a sound.  How I wished my legs were longer as I would sit on the stool trying to press the pedals.  I recall mother would warn me not to worry the family by banging on the organ.  For some reason I would forget what mother had asked me not to do, and I would venture into the room.  To touch the keys even made me feel I had accomplished something.  Sometimes I did accomplish something – a good old-fashioned spanking.  I recall the Bell girls visiting on a Sunday we were there.  Pearl played the organ, and they sang.  A big lump gathered in my throat, because I thought the songs were sad.  Juanita and I could always work up a few tears over songs.

            After lots of chit-chat on the porch, and in the open hall, Grandmother or some member of the family, would remind us to get ready as dinner would soon be served.  At the west end of the front porch, half-hidden by velvet bean vines, was a wash shelf with pan, soap, and water in a cedar bucket, and a towel nearby.  Each would take his turn getting ready for a delicious meal.  As we entered the dining room, which was between a bedroom and the kitchen, we would see a long table laden with everything good: fried chicken, chicken pie (Grandmother’s specialty), cake, pies, corn, ham that was fried a golden brown with good red-streaked gravy, and hot biscuits.  There were several bowls of vegetables to choose from and always plenty of everything.  On each side of the table were two long benches, rubbed to a glitter.  They were not waxed and polished, but had been cleaned by a good old-fashioned rubbing with sand.  The floor was just as clean as the benches.  On the wall hung neatly-pressed silverware bags that had been embroidered with pretty designs.  At these meals, no one used etiquette or even thought about diets.  Everyone ate in reverence and thanks to the ones who had labored to prepare the food.  It seems there is more togetherness at the table than at any other place.  There was no store within miles but, why run to a store when the fruit of your labor is within your hands?  The meals were wholesome and good; well-planned and prepared.

            Leaving the house, we would go down the steps leading from the hall to a well-swept yard.  There stood a windless well;  so few can be found today.  The smokehouse stood nearby with a shed to protect Grandfather’s farming implements.  This shed also brings a vivid picture to my mind of the playhouse my Aunt Hazel and I used to play in.  One day the rain was coming down and we decided to eat inside the shed.  I well remember how good the chocolate cake tasted.  Steve would scorn us as we ran back and forth through the kitchen door.  He had good reasons to scorn us, as we were worrisome.  Hazel was a little older than I, but her goodness to entertain me made my day happier, and also made lasting memories.  The rain kept coming, but our spirits were never dampened. 

            To the east of the house was a pear tree.  Under the house was a cellar.  It looked awfully big and spooky to me.  In this cellar there were many bushels of potatoes, peanuts, buckets of molasses, and jars of fruit and vegetables stored each year.  To the south of the house were peach trees, and a path well-worn by time that led down the hill.  There was a clothesline on the hillside for the convenience of the family wash each week.  At the foot of the hill was a beautiful sight to behold, and such a peaceful atmosphere. We could soon realize this was the washing place, as a large black pot, tubs, and a bench for the tubs to rest on were nearby.  The old battling stick that was near was used in keeping the clothes punched down in the pot while boiling them.  Lying nestled within the side of the hill, was a spring of clear, cool water. The water did not have to be made pure by chlorines or any other chemicals.  God had a plan for its purity by the arrangements of the elements in the earth that it trickled through.  Nearby hung a dipper gourd, used for drinking purposes.  This gourd survived many years of heat and cold, and was ever-ready for the thirsty.  Tall trees made a green tent ; it’s branches overlapping.  One could go there to meditate and to iron out their troubles without any disturbance.  Once in awhile a lizard would go hurriedly on his way, as he too loved the surroundings.  Nearby was a field.  In my mind it was a sugarcane field. I do know Grandfather had a horse-drawn molasses mill.  The molasses were always so thick and tasty.

            As we ventured around to the barn that could be reached by going down the hill from the house, and near the garden that reached upward toward the west side of the house, cows and horses were always waiting to be fed.  Calves would be prancing around in gaiety, knowing that they could soon be with their mothers.  Chickens were eager to get to the barn so they could get to the corn and feed that dropped from the troughs.  The hogs, so fat and almost ready to be killed for the winter meat, could be heard chomping on the corn and, with a big squeal, we realized there was a greedy one in the bunch.  Near the barn were trees well-carved with initials, and worn through the years.  Names of generations are neatly carved and also crudely carved on its bark.  Many who carved their initials, have already been called to their eternal rest.  Though rain, hail, or high winds come, these trees are landmarks, well-preserved for the loved ones who are left to love and cherish these memories.

            I recall vividly the old creek that ran near the barn and how Grandfather would put his wagon in the water to swell the wheels.  We would wade and play in the wagon.  Even snakes that we saw occasionally, did not make us fear the pleasure of wading.  There was another barn where the feed was stored for winter months.  When winter came, every inch of the loft and barn was covered.  There was a number of animals to be fed and sheltered.

            As we went beyond the barns, we saw a rail fence that surrounded many acres of pasture.  This type of fence took many hours of hard labor – cutting the trees and making the long zigzag fences that seemed to be endless.  It took lots of patience and hard work, but when it was finished, it was a work of art.

            Off in a distance, we could see Clyde and Reba Bonds; house.  We always looked forward to seeing them, and as James was the only little boy around, he was the pride and joy of everyone.

            I can’t forget the tender love and devotion shown Mose, the family dog, years after he departed his life for dog heaven.  He was so loved that flowers were placed on his tiny grave throughout the years.  I remember going to his grave – well-shaded by trees – and watching Grandmother place flowers as a remembrance of the affection he had shown his master and mistress, and the children who loved him so.

            As the evening sun gently faded into the west, casting shadows over the old rail fence, the barns and the house – the milking done, the cows fed, and all chores over – we could hear the whippoorwills, the doves calling to their mates, the night owls, and even the crickets chirping.  There was a feeling of security and happiness.  These loved ones who had labored so hard day by day, went to bed feeling a contentment, and knowing that God had provided all these beautiful surroundings to be loved and admired for generations by those who were so lucky to enjoy the beauty and pleasure of being in the midst when all that has been written was a reality.

            The old house is not there any longer, and the many happy days spent there are in the past, but to us who loved the old farm so, can be assured the same trees still reach skyward, as if to let us know “all is well.”

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