Old times there are not forgotten

 

pond2

I WOULD PADDLE the unpainted rowboat alone over bream, minnows, snakes, tadpoles and trout through this water named Wavering Pond, even though it was much nearer a lake, filled with Spanish moss and tall cypress trees holding black crows that, being smart, would fly away before I could shotgun them.

It was the 1950s.

Further back, during Hoover’s Depression, my mother would swim there, leaping off a rope tied to a cypress limb. But I never entered that water because I thought it dubious, and I saw more snakes than I would have liked.

So I stuck to my boat and the paddle, just one paddle so you couldn’t really row. You poled and paddled, but since you weren’t going anywhere in a rush, that worked just fine.

Our pond rested down a rutted dirt road about a quarter mile of corn field and Hereford cows behind this house that had been in our family since the 1890s — just 30 years after the bloody war.

home

At first, as was common, the front and one side of the house was one long screened porch for sitting, free of flies, on rocking chairs with cold lemonade on summer days after dinner. And watching fireflies at night after supper. But times and styles and desires changed, and the porch was cut off, saving just this short piece.

There was an interim style, still short but with a wood banister, where my dirt-farmer grandfather would sit and prop up his long, skinny legs in Dickies pants, looking across the red-clay road that ran directly in front of the house about 18 feet away. He usually wore a stained felt fedora and a cigarette, which eventually killed him.

The cigarette, not the fedora.

garage

Shifting your gaze leftward, past a stretch of yard and a pecan tree, you would have seen this garage. They parked Fords there. It was always Fords. Even the tractors were Fords. These were my mother’s people. If you wanted Chevrolets, my father’s family was the place to visit, up north of Atlanta, almost 200 miles away.

But you never heard any fussing about it. Chevrolets versus Fords. It’s not like anybody was a Yankee.

We were all on the same squad that mattered.

These pictures were taken in the 1980s after many of us had died, including the corn, the cows and my dog named Pepper. It had changed an awful lot. Even the red-clay road out front had turned into asphalt.