The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Ozark Dreams and Mountain Memories - Part 8 of 24

By Lillie A. Emery © 1987

Issue: October, 1987

October 1935

Every day after the chivaree for the next few weeks was spent in a rush. We were determined to get all of our crops and vegetables out of our fields before the Jenkins' family moved into our house. We'd all get up at daybreak and work until after dark. The Shaughnessy family was just as busy trying to get their crops all out. The trouble at the chivaree convinced Mr. Shaughnessy that he should go up north as soon as he could for his sons' sakes. They had a sale just before they left and sold almost all of their household goods and all of their livestock except a pair of beautiful black mares that were due to foal in the middle of winter. He made a deal with Papa to take care of the mares and raise the colts and then if he ever came back, Papa could keep the colts for himself.

None of us went to the sale but they said the O'Hara twins were there trying to raise a ruckus. We were all too busy gathering in corn and picking cotton. Because we had a dry summer everything ripened and matured early. We were lucky for we got almost everything cleared out of our fields before the Jenkins' family was due to move in our house.

The Shaughnessy's left for Detroit they had their truck packed up with everything they could haul including the motorcycle. We arrived at their house with our first load of belongings just as they were getting all set to leave. They tied a big tarpaulin over the back of the truck in a covered wagon way. They had a mattress on top so the boys could ride in comfort. They shook hands with Papa and Mama and looked around sort of coughing and tweaking at their noses and told all of us children good–bye. They got in the truck and as they roared up the road they were a great sight to see as that fast truck stirred up a cloud of dust and disappeared. I stood there just hoping if we ever had to go to another part of the world that we'd have a truck like that to go in.

The Shaughnessy house sure got a thorough inspection before we went to bed that night. The whole house was magnificent but the kitchen was unbelievably modern. We just couldn't believe that we had running water through the kitchen. All of us gathered around Mama as she started supper and just watched as she helped herself to all the water that she needed. We didn't even have to go outside and bring it in by buckets full. It was just there running from a pipe into a sink and down another pipe then outside down a long pipe clear out to the chicken house and on to the hog pasture. The Shaughnessy's were not only rich but they were really smart, too. They had covered their spring with cement and the only way for the water to get out was through two pipes that were sticking through the cement. One of these was the pipe to the kitchen and the other ran through the wash house and smoke house and then carried the water on to the barn. Papa said if the spring ever got real low we could close off one of the pipes and still have plenty of water for the kitchen and the laundry. He said the livestock could drink from the pond out in the meadow. As we all stood around marveling at the wonderful engineering, Jonathan said that he'd sure like for Danny Davis to see what a fine house we lived in now. I sure wished that Dovie could see our kitchen then maybe she would quit bragging about all of her fine new clothes and about how rich her family was.

After we moved, it seemed like we were twice as busy as before. It was the last of October and already there was a touch of frost in the late evening breeze. We had to put away all of our canned food, potatoes, pumpkins and other vegetables that had to be stored away where they wouldn't freeze. We also had to gather in some of Mr. Shaughnessy's crops too so there wasn't a spare minute for any of us.

We knew it was about time for the Jenkins' family to move but we hadn't said much about it being so busy and all. Then too there was our wounded pride because they were just going to take over our farm. But one day Papa came home from town and said that he heard something about Mr. Jenkins having a lot of bad luck and being sick; but nobody there seemed to know just what his troubles were. Earl said with all his money, Mr. Jenkins could afford to be sick and have bad luck. Papa told Earl never to talk like that again so we just never mentioned the Jenkins' after that.

One morning as we began another day it was decided that the boys would haul in the hay from Mr. Shaughnessy's back forty using his mares and an old wagon that he had left there. Alice was in town helping Mrs. Reed. Mama, Jeannie and April were going to begin packing all of the canned food in the big pantry in an orderly way so whatever was needed could be found with ease. Papa was going to take our wagon and get the last of the pumpkins we had gathered and stacked in our corn field near our old orchard. I guess to get me out of her way, Mama told me to go with Papa. So we went jogging along down the road and crossed the creek and drove down our cotton rows to get the pumpkins stacked there in the edge of the orchard.

Then I saw him, Mr. Jenkins, for the first time. He was lying on the ground gazing up at us out of blue smoke color eyes that seemed to be pierced with pain as though he were lying in a stack of thorns. His face was thin, gaunt, and wrinkled. Each of his snarled, big–jointed, boney hands clutched at a wooden crutch. He began to writhe and wiggle to get out of the small drainage ditch he was crawling across. Then with much struggling, he finally sat up and holding onto a persimmon bush with one miserably twisted hand and his crutches with an equally twisted hand, he finally stood up and managed to get himself situated steadily on his crutches. Frozen in shocked disbelief, I sat there motionless on the wagon seat as Papa suddenly, with the agility of a lion, jumped down and then with great strength combined with kindness that only Papa was capable of, he embraced his boyhood friend and they stood there laughing as tears trickled down their faces.

Mr. Jenkins sat in the back of the wagon bed after Papa took the end out and we drove up the familiar hill to our old house. There on the porch was a chubby, smiling, motherly–looking woman and a girl and a boy who looked about thirteen and fourteen years old. They too were chubby and smiling faced. Mrs. Jenkins invited Papa and me to sit in chairs on the porch. She told me and her two children, Jimmy and Joan, that she knew my Papa and Mama when they were all young and first married.

We all just sat there talking for a long time; Joan and Jimmy were eating a bunch of concord grapes that came from our orchard and they offered me some. At first I wouldn't eat any of them, but after awhile I didn't mind so I helped eat some of our grapes. Mr. Jenkins was telling Papa about coming down with the crippling arthritis a few years before and that he had been crippled so badly he hadn't been able to work since and that he had spent all of his money for doctor bills and that he had lost everything that he ever owned. He said a lawyer took care of all his money matters and sent that letter to Papa and that he had no other choice but move back to the hill farm. Papa said something about forgetting about that letter but I didn't hear exactly what he said for I was busy looking through our old door at a radio sitting inside on a table. It was the first radio I had ever seen outside of a mail order catalog. There was also some daily papers lying on the table, too. The first ones I had ever seen.

Papa and I got the pumpkins loaded in a hurry for Joan and Jimmy helped us. As we worked I asked them why their Papa was lying down by the orchard on the ground when we came up and they said that he took a walk every day over the farm and if he came to a ditch or gully he couldn't cross with his crutches, he would just lay down and crawl across.