This photo represents a lot of history and memories. My Great Great Grandfather built the house back there after the Civil War. My Great Great Grandmother had a portrait (one of the very first to be taken) hanging over the mantle. My Great Grandmother was born and lived there her entire life. My grandmother, great Aunt Irene, and Great Uncle Boochie (James) were all born and raised there.
This little house witnessed porch swings going a little too high and too fast so I could scare and delight my younger brother and cousins. We also played porch tag. To explain, if you were “it,” you had to tag another of the cousins who would have to jump off the porch, with you chasing them. They had to make it around the tree to the left, tap the car “garage,” run as fast as they could back around the propane tank on the side of the house, and then back to the porch. If they made it without you tagging them, you were still it. If they didn’t, they were “it” and got to tag the next person. We had to stay out of the backyard because that is where Uncle Boochie’s mean dogs were. He had passed, but they stayed safe with my Great Granny and Great Aunt Ruby (both lived there).
I don’t have a lot of great childhood memories, but it was in this house that my Great Grandmother Sallie Mae Tribble made me my very own chocolate pie and hot dogs every holiday. She taught me to crochet, knead bread dough, and that the chicken we ate for dinner was with the other chickens, we fed that morning. It is where I also learned how to shuck corn and snap peas.
When Uncle Boochie passed, I was the oldest “blood” male relative and took his place at the head of the table. It was in this house that, on cold holidays, I would curl up near one of the furnaces and nap. Then, my little brother, cousins, and I would just run, play, squeal, get in arguments (as kids do) and have to pick the ticks off each other at the end of the day.
There is an art to tick removal that involves clear fingernail polish. But, of course, you could not pull them straight out, or you would get an infection if their gross greedy little heads stayed in the bite wound. And Lyme’s disease? I never heard of it until much later as an adult.
The property was large, and our family found arrowheads from time to time. In addition, deer, snakes, skunks, and other things would traverse the property. Add that to the fact you had to go two miles down a gravel/dirt road to get to the house, and you have straight-up country living. When my Great Grandmother passed, and Great Aunt Ruby moved out, My Aunt Irene inherited the property and sold it to a developer that never developed the land.
Dan and I are going on a summer road trip (his annual trip, my first time being able to join him), and part of our route this year will go through middle Tennessee to see where my kin comes from. I asked my Aunt J and Aunt S to send me the addresses of Great Granny and where my mother was born. They sent me the photo in this post of my Great Granny’s house with the info. Unfortunately, it burned some time ago, and the only things left are the walls and the chimney.
When I saw this photo, I wept.
I guess getting older is full of surprises like this. I always imagined some new gigantic house in that spot full of a new family and neighborhood. Now the only tenant is Mother nature, and I guess in the end, that is as it should be. I miss that yard that Sallie Mae mowed with an OLD-timey push mower (no motor) until she was 80. I miss all the fun and laughter and family holiday get-togethers. I should recreate some of those traditions.
I won’t visit this burned-out house as I don’t want to remember it this way. I want to remember the sense of pride we as a family had in that home, the good times and the history.
I will cherish these memories all the more.