By Otis Griffin
In the illustrious South visiting with friends and neighbors was always very enjoyable.
Sundays afternoons were times to relax, and the grownups would solve most of the problems of the big wide world. Daddy would get some news at work and read the Press Scimitar every night in his easy chair.
This way, preparations were made for some intelligent conversations in the big metropolis for the coming weekend. Additionally, we had a beautiful tan colored Philco radio used primarily for the Saturday night special of the Grand Ole Opry. Daddy would tune in the early morning farm news and the local weather forecast for a short period of time. But as soon as he was satisfied, he clicked the off switch. Otherwise Daddy said we’d wear out the squawking box too soon. Huh?
Folks like to visit, as we say in the South, ‘sit a spell’ and enjoy each other’s company. Back then after the War, there was plenty to talk about concerning who had been overseas and returned. Deep discussions concerning the ones that didn’t make it and how their families had responded to the heartbreaks and agonies.
I remember one time I peeped around the corner of the house as all the lady folks were dabbing their eyes and softly crying. Someone had stopped out on the road and delivered some bad news. I was too young to understand what had happened, but everyone was upset. However, most of the time this was a joyful occasion.
Since all of the folks voted for the Democratic Party, not a full sentence was spoken without reverence to former President FDR and what he had done for the working man. Everyone was ‘pore’ so it was hard to decipher between the good times and the bad. A resourceful thought was expunged when someone said, “Lawdy, this sho’ is a rough and cruel ole world.” After a short deliberation and some deep thinking, the appropriate answer was, “Yeah I know, but compared to what?” Further reiterated, “Boy we just went through a serious depression and all.” The reply of, “well, I knowed something happened, but I couldn’t ‘figger’ out what.” “The onliest difference I seen, was I got me a new Jersey milk cow, and a couple of my sows came in.” Continuing, “I thought sumpin’ weren’t ‘zactly right, as my hens ‘bout quit laying.” “But the old rooster died, so I traded for a new speckled eyed White Rock.” “Now we back in some tall cotton, as the nests are full up again.”
While the grownups were solving all the problems, the youngsters were told, “to go play.” Which meant get out of here, so they could talk as they didn’t want any gully jumpers to hear their high powered conversations. Most of the time we’d play in the backyard, far from the documentary session.
Mr. Woodrow and Miss Gertie Wages, along with Momma and Daddy would be sitting on our home plate under the big Maple shade trees in their stiff backed straight chairs enjoying themselves.
Daddy would point to the backyard and tell us, “Bo, you and Dennis go around back and take little Sister Jo with you.” Friends, back then, none of the kids even thought about asking ‘WHY’…………….. like they do today. If I had questioned anything, by the time I picked myself up off the tromped down Bermuda grass, the bells would be ringing and the flashing stars would have been out in the afternoon. No Sirrreeee, I wouldn’t really give a hoot.” I might have been born at night, but not last night!!
Occasionally, a couple would drive by, stop and park their truck half way in the ditch. The visitors would pull up their chairs and join in the conversation. No problem parking, even though the road was only wide enough for a well balanced cotton wagon.
Sunday afternoon drivers would just slow down and ease around the vehicle. At a snail’s pace, the sightseers would throw up their hands and give the folks in the front yard a friendly wave and an Ipana smile.
Generally the chairs stayed in a big circle with everyone joining in the conversation. Pretty soon I noticed the gentlemen had moved to one side, separated from the ladies. We were too young to know what the adults were discussing, but when sides were chosen it had to be serious. Hiding behind the shrubs and bushes, silently we’d sneak up as close as we could and play Dick Tracy.
Always the highlight was the cake and homemade ice cream. Some may remember how the cakes and pies were covered on the kitchen table with thin dishrags so the flies wouldn’t eat too much. But, when we heard the hand cranked homemade ice cream maker grinding and moaning, we knew it wouldn’t long before we got to stand in line and feast on our Sunday afternoon delight.
Beloved, I don’t reckon many folks go visit their friends anymore like they did a hundred years ago. Sad to say, just another great tradition has fallen by the wayside. This was just another day or was it a lifetime ago in the sprouting of a country redneck hoping to survive?
Memories of the Great South and our Down Home Country Ways — GLORY!
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