When I Was a Girl
Cathy B. Bridges
© Copyright 2021 by Cathy B. Bridges
One sunny Fall Saturday afternoon approximately 10 years ago, my husband and I took our little granddaughter to visit her great-great-great grandparents' old home place. It was a beautiful day to enjoy being outdoors, and childhood memories flooded my mind as we came up the long driveway that ran along the side of a steep drop off. That reminds me of the day my grandfather scared me when he backed up his car too close to the edge. My brother and I were in the car with him, and I just knew we were about to go sailing off into the trees.
The 150 + year old house was still standing, but barely. The front porch was missing, and we could not go inside, but I had my memories of every Easter Sunday spent with my mom's large family and hunting Easter eggs in the woods with my cousins when I was a little girl. I am going back 55 to 60 years. Memories are like wonderful pictures in your mind and no one can take them away. They are always with you, whether good or bad.
Another significant memory that I have is the way my great uncle Alf would grunt and point to me and then my baby picture every time he saw me. Bless his heart he always knew who I was. You see, my uncle Alfred, we always called him Alf, was deaf and could not speak. The reason was because when he was a baby a high fever from an illness left him deaf, so he never learned to speak. He never married and always lived with my great-grandparents. I will never forget him, because he always singled me out and made me feel special. It was in the woods where they found him face down later in life, probably from a heart attack.
Some of my mom's relatives still own the property and built a pavilion years ago to have family reunions and other get-togethers each year. They built it down by the creek that runs through the property, and the old house sits on a hill looking down at the creek, the old barn, and the woods where we had so many of those memorable Easter egg hunts long ago in the good old days.
My cousins and I had so much fun as children, playing on the old tree swing that almost swung out over the cliff, chasing the guineas and chickens around the yard, and playing around the ramshackle outhouse. We thought it was so funny when the chickens were hanging out and pecking around underneath it. Back then we had to be creative because there were no cell phones or video games and in the early 1960s, not everyone had a television either. Back then, kids enjoyed playing outside and using their imagination.
Something else we liked to do was aggravate our male cousins and our young uncles when they would be down at the creek hanging out. The guys did not want us girls around, so they would tell us that there were alligators in the creek to scare us away. It worked until we caught on, and then they would have to come up with some other way to get rid of us worrisome girls.
Easter Sunday was a special occasion, and everyone looked forward to going to my great-grandparentís house. With such a large family, there was food and people everywhere. There were all kinds of pies and cakes to enjoy after the main dishes and casseroles were consumed. After eating, the adults sat outside under trees or on the long front porch, talking, swatting flies, and wishing they had not eaten so much. Some would even doze if a cool breeze was blowing. There would be so much food, that everyone would have to wait awhile before us kids could go hunt eggs.
The woods were abundant with blooming buttercups, dogwood and redbud trees and it was only a short stroll from out behind the barn. The adults would go hide the eggs and then send someone to get us and keep us under control so that we would not run all over each other. I am sure it was a sight to behold so many kids running around with our colorful Easter baskets, and some of us still dressed in our Easter clothes hunting eggs. There were prize eggs to be found and it was always exciting to find one because most of them had money inside. Sometimes they would be hidden so well, the adults would have to help us out, and they did not mind. It was fun for them too. There were many prize eggs because there were so many kids in the family. I know one thingóit made for a fantastic egg hunt!
My momís family owns significant land in New Market where we live. I have grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles and cousins from this lush little town in northeast Madison county on the Cumberland Plateau that was once known for growing Water Cress. My husbandís grandparents and great-grandparents were from New Market as well. Most of our relatives are buried in one of the many historical cemeteries nearby.
At one time there were cotton fields and cattle everywhere, but not now. Families are selling their land off right and left, and the rural countryside is going away. The city is moving on out to our quaint little town. I always loved observing miles of white cotton covering the earth like a blanket in late summer and into the fall. Farmers would be on cotton pickers getting the last of the cotton in on Thanksgiving Day sometimes.
felt good to bring our granddaughter to visit her great-great-great
grandparentís old home place. It may not be standing much
longer, so I am glad she got to observe it and maybe one day she will
tell her grandchildren. I must say it was a treat for me to see it
again and to relive all those wonderful memories of so long ago.