Breath of Fresh Air

When I dabble in genealogy I frequently come upon quaint famly stories.  These are not my family, but are buried in various family line reports. It feels good and restful to think of simpler times:

First:  ….They then decided to return to Stokes County. In route back to North Carolina, they stayed overnight in Atlanta, Georgia. While eating supper in a big hotel that night, his daughter Myrtle spoke up and asked her papa, “please pass the dog bread.” He felt like going under the table. He stood up and explained that she always made cornbread for his greyhounds, for which he paid her 25 cents for each pone.

Second:   What I can recall the best is reading the newspaper for him. He always took the Winston-Salem Journal, but in his later years, he wanted me to read it for him. I don’t recall if he was having trouble with his eyesight, or if he was unable to read. After I got home from school, I would go over to his house, and he would be sitting in his front yard under one of those big maple trees in a straight-back chair. He was more interested in what was being printed about the war-World War II. I can remember reading about the Allies landing in France and how they fought across France and Belgium.

He would always check the western sky in the evening, to see what weather to expect for the next two or three days. If the red came on up overhead when the sun would set, it would be fair for the next two or three days. I don’t recall his peach orchard up there on Thompson’s Knob, except after it had grown up. We used to pick blackberries growing in the old orchard. I remember the apple and cherry trees above the house. I would go up there and find a big Jonathan Winters apple to take with me to school the next day.

He had a pack house. He had filled the space between the floor and ground with sawdust. He would put apples and pears down in the sawdust and keep them all winter.

He always brought the mules from the barn to the watering trough at noon to get a cool drink, so when we were out off working in the fields, and someone rang the dinnerbell, the mules would stop in their tracks–you could not even get them to finish the row. They would just stand there until you unhooked them from the plow, and they knew they were on their way to get a cool drink of that mountain water.

I always looked forward to wheat thrashing at Grandpa’s house. There was always a big dinner made. I remember how good that apple pie was. Wheat thrashing time was when the junebugs were flying. The kids would take a string of thread and tie it to the junebugs’ back legs and let him fly around.

These are the things that I can recall about my grandfather.

 

 

About Nan Mykel

I used to think I would be a child prodigy, but then I got old. Formerly I had fantasies of rubbing elbows with cultural and academic leaders but that did not come to pass because I did not become a cultural or academic leader or any other kind of leader, for that matter. I am not even an "Alpha Dog," a term learned from a friend who had to become "Alpha Dog" in order to influence her own pet. (When gazes lock, she never looks away.) For years I expected to become a published author, but in passing I could not avoid the fact that I had little to contribute to the world's bulging dumpsters. I'm embarrassed to report that I also considered my primary process artistic productions powerful, rather than mildly neurotic. Which is not to say that I disrespect myself, only that I am beginning to doubt my potential for making a mark on the world. If I focus on strict self discipline I may be able to keep my garbage removed on a weekly basis, to keep the kitty box changed, the clothes cleaned, the dog watered, fed and walked, but that just catches me up to the starting mark again. When writing I physically grapple with words, wrestling them from their indifference into attempted chunks of awareness. I sit heavily on my chair; I breathe in artificially cooled air; my ear drums note the tap tap of the keyboard and the steady uninterrupted sound of the air conditioner, What is that sound? The roar of the ocean from 30 yards away...Inside, my thoughts are are balls in an electronic game machine, bouncing hither and yon from lever to lever. I am a little grim and intent until I recall a dream related by a black man in the prison where I once worked. He said that when he was a small boy, back home, he dreamed he was standing on his front porch pissing, and that he suddenly found himself pissing stars...
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