The old home place

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When Uncle Kent and Aunt Eunice died, their remaining children split up  the land, leaving Nell and Ginny with the  house and some acreage. You can sit on the front porch and look across the road at where the field used to be, especially the part called the basin, low and damp. That’s where Uncle Kent raised his ribbon cane.  And to the left, there’s the big gully, where he kept his goats.
The old house is a rougher version of lawyer Young’s house in town. That’s what Uncle  Kent told great-uncle Harvey, who actually built the house. No blue prints.  Uncle Harvey snorted, “You know how many houses I’ve built? Blue prints, my foot.” He’s the great-uncle who wrote the epic poem about the blacksmith being under the white oak tree.   Anyway, he cut the rafters a little short, so the house’s roof never did fit exactly right.
I can barely remember when the house was built, but it holds many memories for me. Hay-hauling, ice-cream making and eating.  Listening to  the guy on WLAC well into the wee hours, making fun of Uncle Kent’s Christmas tree (it looked like one of Charlie Brown’s trees), Uncle Kent lying over there on the sofa, dozing,  but hearing every word. And on and on and on.
Well, the kids  moved away.  Ginny and Gail wound up in Miami.  Neither ever married. They lived in a house together. Gail (or Nell) worked for Pan-Am, back when that was an important name. Ginny worked for an advertising agency.
They’d come up to the home place for a few weeks every summer, enjoying their summer home.  Accidents and age began to  pick off the kids, one by one. Billy, Charlie, James, and most recently, Nell, leaving Ginny alone in the Miami house, and by herself on her visits to Frontier Country. Well, not  quite alone. She gets around in a wheel chair now, and has a helper, an attendant, who  stays with her most of the time.
Recently, Ginny and helper were up at the old place for several days, mainly  because of Decoration Day at Emmaus and Mt. Pisgah.  Now this girl who helps her is apparently Miami-bred and born, a city girl, a Miami city girl.  Probably never saw a gravel road before.  So,  picture: They’re in this house, not another house in sight. Maybe  five or six cars go by all day.
She was scared out of her wits,  expecting  bears or wolves to be knocking at the door any moment, maybe Indians.
Come on, girl. I  mean, our home place is just a mile and a half  away, and there’s a four-lane  highway just a mile away. Too close, Uncle Kent used to say. He could hear those confounded cars going up and down the highway all day and all night.
I understand Ginny’s friend and helper got over the worst of her fright after a day or two, even drove the car to town by herself to get groceries. .
True, the old community ain’t what it used to be . I fight back a  sob or two when I go by where the Chandlers and the Bomans and the Matthews and the Bickerstaffs and the Finches and all used to live  –and there’s not a sign that their houses was ever there.
Oh, what tales that lady will have to tell her friends when she gets back to Miami. But, actually, they say she was beginning to kind of like living out in the wilderness.
Bob Sanders is a veteran local radio personality, columnist, author and raconteur of note. He can be reached at bobbypsanders@gmail.com.

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