Categorized | Opinion

Southern Raisin: At first we didn’t even have a mule

By Otis Griffin

The majority of the families in and around the metropolis of Rosemark and other close by communities lived off the ground.  Maybe a few toiled at the Millington naval base or ventured far away, way down to the other side of the world and drew a paycheck in Memphis.  Usually most folks that labored at public works still had gardens or in some cases if enough off spring, row crops and hay supplemented the income.

Friends the first two years after we moved to Rosemark we didn’t have any farm equipment to make a garden, so Daddy bartered and rented our neighbor, Alex’s mule and tools to put in some vegetation.  I recollect after he purchased the new property all Daddy wanted to hound on was getting some plants in the earth just like he did coming up in Mississippi.

On many of our front porch talks in later years; we three would be talking, usually discussing current events (never gossiped) and maybe a new high dollar, shiny tractor would thunder by as if a pack of hounds were chasing a ’coon across an open field.  Most times Daddy would quickly stand up, swiftly glide to the edge of the porch, lean as far as he could and peer around the wall seriously gazing in the distance before the groaning nuts and bolts disappeared past our neighbor, ‘Miss’ Kitty’s trees and overgrown shrubs.

Do my brilliant senior citizens remember at one time in our previous era when folks were friendly and actually spoke, smiled and waved at one ’nuthr as they eased by?  A long time forgotten.  Possibly Daddy hadn’t ventured past the property line for a day or so, but he knew who, where, what, why and when that equipment was bound.

Beloved, Momma would quit flossing with her white sewing thread long enough to inquire who was that and where was he headed?  Momma had to know or the earth axis would quit turning, the blue moon due in seven months might turn green, or a rat might sneak into the smokehouse. She was positive the filthy varmint would tear open a greasy, brown paper bag containing a cured middling dangling from the overhead rafter and gnaw down our bacon.  (Not nosy)

Neighbor flashbacks take me to a time we had to wait ’til Daddy got back in his favorite porch chair, squirmed around, finally getting fixed and comfortable.  Then he would divulge the latest in the agriculture and farming program as if Derek Rooke was on the radio.  Once Momma was satisfied she knew as much as the philosophers on Mr. Ben’s front porch, our epic appraisal of the universe continued.

Soon settled in the porch chair, Daddy would gaze out across the front yard for a minute or so locked in a steely trance.  But neither of us uttered a sound waiting for Daddy to reignite the debate.  If I had, it would have been worse than General Stonewall calling his troops to attention and watch out about yo’ face.

Once relaxed, Daddy said. “Bo, we sho’ could have used that nice new tractor a few years ago out here behind the house breaking up the garden.”  I agreed. As usual.  And I silently wished we had more than an old mule but…Southern Memories…Glory!

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October 2012
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