My Granddaddy on my Daddy’s side was a preacher. He wasn’t a preacher in the traditional sense, like in a proper church. He did his “testifyin” as he called it in a barn and his congregation were the migrant workers. I remember seeing a hat full of money, more money than I had ever seen in one place, full and overflowing. Sometimes they even passed it twice.
They loved him, that much was clear, that barn would be full to overflowing. I don’t know if they understood every word he said, but they understood passion. That’s understood in any language.
He used to warn my cousin and I against climbing up on the roof and yet sometimes I wonder if he didn’t leave that ladder out on purpose. As soon as he left, we’d slap that ladder against the side of that old house and scramble up there and tap-dance to our heart’s content. The music the heels of our Mary Jane’s made against that tin roof was something that was worth getting in trouble over.
Grandma was the one we were concerned with. She was bigger and had a bit of a mean streak. My brother and I used to watch her kill rattlesnakes from up there with one snap of her mighty wrists. She was strong enough to kill turkeys that way too. A turkey attacked me one day, bit me under the arm. We had that turkey for dinner that night. She didn’t mess around.
If my memories of those West Texas summers were woven into anything it would come out looking like a patchwork crazy quilt. Some parts terrifying some parts wonder. The time my Grandma locked me in the dark closet with the glow in the dark Jesus would fall under the terrifying category. I don’t know if Jesus was meant to comfort me or scare me but in the end fear won out.
The other thing that would fall in that category was when Grandma told about how she danced with the devil. She said he came into her bedroom wearing a dark suit and was the most handsome man she had ever seen. They waltzed.
She and my Grandpa had their own unique blend of religion. They believed in reincarnation but also went to the tabernacle for meetings where people who were slain in the spirit would do some very unnatural things like roll around on the floor and make weird noises. To us it was part of the entertainment. We thought they looked more possessed by the devil than anything else.
The wonder part of the memories were made at Grandpa’s baseball park where I was allowed to help out in the concession stand and make snow-cones. There were hot summer nights when chiggers bit ferocious, when the air was so full of damp my hair would mildew on the pillow overnight.
And there were those afternoons when the sky was cast in yellow and the air was eerily still and we waited for the sound of the tornado siren. Times where we all hustled down to the cool of the storm cellar, and other times where we watched those monsters roar in, wide-eyed and rooted where we stood.
That old farmhouse is long gone, taking with it a way of life that will never come again. Sometimes when I least expect it, some little thing will remind me.
The crack of a bat, the smell of hay, a dapper old man with a jaunty walk.
Otherwise they are tucked away in my heart for safe keeping. We fan those flames of memory and bring them back to life with our laughter and our stories.
Once again, I’m tap-dancing on a tin-roof.
images from google
9 thoughts on “A Story……”
Terrific! Your hair mildewed overnight? I’ve never experienced that, but I know a bit about chiggers:) I lived in Texas and Kansas. I want to install a tin roof on my backyard patio, regardless if it fits into the California stucco theme:) This is a great memoir piece. Are you following prompts to dig up these memories?
Angie, I have a confession, this is a memoir but not mine, my best friend’s. I wanted to see how it looked on the page and what life I could bring to it. And yes, her hair did mildew 🙂 Her Dad just died recently and I want to capture some things for her as she tells them. Thank you for reading!
How wonderful to be holding all of this, and surely tons more, in your heart …filled with fantastic memories. I just kept reading, Lori, without being able to stop. I am glad I came by for I needed a lift! Caring through Christ, ~ linda
HI Linda! If you read my comment above you now know that these are my best friend’s memories which I am trying to capture. I am so glad you enjoyed it. I have plenty of my own but her’s are pretty colorful and I have always been intrigued by settings in Texas and in the South/Southwest. Thank for much for reading and commenting!
P.S. where in West Texas? I live in Portland, TX, across the bay from Corpus Christi, but love Fort Davis and Junction and the La Llano and Sabinal Rivers and more in the drier part of Texas. I am a Navy kid but am from California originally. Texas is a whole ‘nother country to me! : )
Man, did I love this post from top to bottom. I felt it, girl. All of it.
Beautifully written. Incredible. 😉
Ohhhh, thank you sweet Harriet. I think my best friend has a great life story and I wanted to see how it sounded on a page. (Her memories, not mine) So glad you enjoyed it, I had great fun writing it. Maybe I will add a new section on the blog and do some more! Lori
Oh my goodness. This gave me chills in the best way possible. Reading through the comments, I see that you have honored your friend by sharing her memoirs. I’m so glad you’re doing this for her! Her childhood memories mirror my own in many ways. My Granny was a wee little lady, but she could wring a chicken’s neck by swinging it over her head and snapping its neck with one hand. I have some emotional scars of my own from watching the headless chickens race around the yard for a good 3-5 minutes before they finally dropped!
The barn memories – those made me smile, also. I spent many a happy hour with my GrandDaddy in his barn, watching him work. I also spent many an hour DOING the work, getting hay up into the loft, stringing tobacco, mucking out the stalls, etc. We are an amalgam of those childhood moments, and I see them through a soft hazy glow when I look back now. I’ve written several blog articles to capture those beautiful memories for myself and my family, and these thoughts I’m writing here today tell me I have more memories to scribe. 🙂
Dawn….I am so glad you like my story. I think it is so important not to let those stories die. The heritage you have of your own growing up years is so rich, in some ways a symbol of times fast disappearing. And yes, keep telling your own. I would love to read some of them. I always wished for a barn and animals growing up, but I have a different heritage, of growing up in small town California which is pretty unique to some I guess. It was wonderful, but I still prayed for that horse to appear on my front lawn just the same. Bless you for reading! Lori