When I sit out on the porch throwing peanuts to the Blue Jays … their calls to one another take me back to a time … where memories have soft edges and youthful adventures remain vivid and grandiose. I am back to the middle and late fifties or the early sixties trudging down a long gravel road in rural South Western Tennessee. I am heading to an old, old country store located on the two lane highway.
For a wide-eyed young man with silver coins, from drawing fresh water at twenty cents a day, burning his pockets, the refuge of wonderful hidden delights was known as El Dorado!
Twice a week, I made the pilgrimage for personal supplies… enduring the long four mile round trip without fear or complaint.
The long trek wasn’t the worst part of the adventure. I also suffered the often confusing comments and questions of the old men sitting on the long porch bench beside the front store window. To a man they started all inquiries directed towards me with the prefix “Hey Boy …” only when I was older did I understand some of their highly suggestive and sexually crude questions.
I hunted the grey dust covered highway ditch for small, but exceptionally fast moving lizards. The small creatures were distinctive from their drab surroundings by the luminescent blue coloring with a bright yellow stripe running down their backs. I was armed with lighting youthful reflexes and a fully loaded air rifle. I had on one earlier occasion, when crossing a low bank stream in the lower hog lot, shot a snake between the eyes when it suddenly ambushed me.
Anyway to get back on subject, for myself, enjoying moments of youthful memories remains an exercise in relaxation. Quiet reflection during rare stolen moments bringing up moments and memories of cherished times. It can be amazing how realistic memories become when honed by frequent recall.
My days in the country were only scripted by store days and non-store days. Up early, I would draw water from the back porch well and make sure the kitchen bucket was full as well as my Grandfather’s porch pitcher he used to wash-up, shave and get ready for breakfast. Close to noon, my Grandfather’s pitcher would be refilled so he could get ready to go to town. He went every day rain or shine.
After drawing fresh water, breakfast was wonderful. There was pork sausage, and beef steak drowning in dark brown gravy along with freshly sliced real Country Ham with red-eye gravy. Next came homemade biscuits and fresh butter, fried eyes and fruit jam. A pone of cornbread was baked for my Grandfather. He wanted fresh cornbread at every meal.
I remember after breakfast stuffing into my trousers, hot homemade, carefully crafted by my grandmother, buttered biscuits that had a wonderful thick cut piece of gravy covered pork sausage between the layers. The biscuits, as carefully as a young boy could hurriedly accomplish, were wrapped in one or more cloth rags. Even before the wrapping process was finished, large sausage, lard, and butter grease circles appeared on the rags.
The pocket biscuits, which were for consumption during my countryside explorations, quickly made large grease rings that spread out from my pants pockets. They joined previous stains that resisted being washed out of the well worn bluejean material. These biscuit grease stains proved popular with my Grandfather’s dog, Uncle Oscar’s dog and every wild cat within a half mile radius. Even the yard chickens seemed interested in the contents of my pockets.
Heading past the gauntlet of hungry critters and down across the hog lot towards a familiar stand of trees on a high ridge, I often looked like a Pied Piper, minus the flute of course. I think the only ones that didn’t worry me to death about my pre-lunch was the Bullfrogs down at the pond. They had a serious problem if my line-of-sight down the gun barrel was on the money that day.
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