Thursday, April 28, 2016

Memories of the Past and Going Home







Earlier this spring, in March, my son and I took my granddaughters back in time several generations. Our first stop was the Chisholm Trail Monument in Addington, Oklahoma. They received a lesson about the cattle drives of the 19th century. My mind went immediately to my history class in 1968 with Mr. Jerald Haynes, Lovington, New Mexico. He taught in such a way my heart opened to the history around me.
Our next stops were the Addington Cemetery and the Waurika Cemetery where they met their great grandparents and great-great grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. Teaching moments! That day they learned family history is important.

Our last stop was the Bennett family farm. The home place. In the blink of an eye that falling down, paint peeling, dangerous place became the special small, white house where my grandparents lived. The kitchen window looked out toward the dirt road and my uncle's home. The gray porch was a gathering place. I remember my grandfather sitting there and laughing. He laughed songs. His laugh started in his toes and rumbled out. God, I miss that.   Later, in 1969, my parents moved into the home place. The porch, that porch, the place of gathering was also a place of tragedy.  My father was the youngest of six boys. He died on that porch at the age of 60. He had a heart attack. Years earlier  two other brothers died on that porch. A. W. died on June 11, 1940 of a heart attack at the age of 21. . Dale died on July 14, 1941 at the age of 17 of a gun shot accident. 

I learned to shell peas and snap beans on that porch.

Daddy was much like his father. His laugh was from the soul. His blue eyes literally twinkled when he laughed. I miss him.

As a girl the propane tank became my beautiful horse. We galloped and roamed. Adventure after adventure. A large tree with red berries became a resting place.

Other favorite buildings on that old farm were the old garage with heavy, sliding doors and a dirt floor. It was dark in there and full of stories just waiting to be told. I accompanied my grandmother to the milking shed early in the mornings. And, sneaked into the feed house to grab a handful of cow cake to gnaw on (it's the small round building, the milk shed is behind it). 

The fresh milk was kept in a blue spatter ware pitcher in the ice box. Green bottles of 7-Up sat right along side it. A candy dish of Kraft caramels was always on the long kitchen table. 

My Daddy and uncles learned to drive in the pasture. My brother, cousins, and I learned to drive in that same pasture. I, however, preferred riding on the tail gate so I could touch the cows. My sons and their cousins learned to drive in that pasture. And. on this journey with my granddaughters, they drove on their Daddy's lap in that same pasture. Life is full circle. 

At my age trekking down memory lane is bittersweet. I remember the good times, I remember words. I remember words not said. How can one be sad, yet happy at the same time? I'll remember this day in the spring of 2016 until I take my last breath. I hope my granddaughters will remember it with fondness.
The photo above  includes my grandfather, John A. Bennett, my tiny grrandmother, Cora Blankenship Bennett, my uncle Thurman, and my uncle Obed on THE porch.

6 comments:

Annie Kelly said...

Hello Winona. I enjoyed your memories. They struck a chord with me - I too have memories like that, and they make my soul sing, like I think yours does too. Thanks for sharing them. :)
Annie (aka Kelly Ann Scott)

Ashley York said...

What a nice lesson! The passing down of family history is absolutely priceless. Thanks for sharing.

Alicia Dean said...

Lovely post. Such sweet memories, and sad ones too. I loved hearing about your past and seeing the pictures. Funny, I had an Uncle Thurman too! :)

Brenda B Taylor said...

i enjoyed your walk down memory lane. Passing down family history is important.

karen said...

Do u have newsletter to join and Facebook to friend u ,I'm Karen slaughter at k527@msn.com

Arlie Wood said...

Of course I want to know the location of that farm. When next I go to the Waurika Cemetery among the Attebery and Wood family burial sites, I may find some of your family sites as well. You spoke of knowing on "Cow Cake" and brought me back to my whole childhood. That was Cotton Seed Cake and my father ran the steam boilers and engine where that was made. I got my "Cow Cake" fresh and hot from the presses. Some of the oil was often used in our home to cook when we couldn't afford shortening and we thought that made us very poor. I learned later that we were cooking with that expensive Crisco Oil. Just recently, the Jesse Chisholm monument has suffered damage; possibly vandalism. The article that I wrote titled "When the Railroad Was King"for the Smithsonian/Waurika event remains a part of the museum display. I combined my maternal family history, Civil War/Texas Cattle History, Railroad History, and Chisholm trail story to cover about two centuries.