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Remembering a distant childhood

August 26, 2011
By Bonnie K. Phares - Special to The Inter-Mountain , The Inter-Mountain

As I grow older, I think of my childhood like it happened to someone else. There really haven't been that many changes in the world in my lifetime, and yet what I did as a child, kids don't do anymore.

I wouldn't trade growing up on the Piercy farm for anything, because all that happened there has filled my life with unmatched memories. And, yet, when I look at my life now, sometimes it seems those memories must belong to someone else.

I was born in 1946 and all my childhood was spent on the farm. That meant gathering our own eggs and butchering our own beef. It meant separating the cream from the milk and making our own butter and cottage cheese. It meant rows of sweet corn in the garden beside rows of tomatoes and cukes, all of which were stored away in canning jars in the cellar to be eaten all through the long winter.

My childhood was filled with long, easy summer days of green grass and blue skies and swimming in the creek, where the swimming hole was surrounded by honeysuckle bushes of pink and orange. The creek furnished all the small crabs and water snakes I could catch, until one of those snakes turned one day and bit me in the thumb.

We were only about seven miles from town, but it seemed much farther than that. And, because there were no other kids close by, my sister and I learned to entertain ourselves. That's when my Mother taught me to embroider (which I still spend hours doing) and, also, passed on her love of reading, a pastime I still savor. Lots of days were spent in the hay mow or in the front porch swing with a good book.

Nothing was done during my childhood in a hurry. Time was my friend, and I relished it. Sunshine flooded the day as did the moonlight at night, when I spent those last minutes before going to sleep, hanging out my upstairs bedroom window just taking in the stillness and listening to the creek running through the field by the house. I never wanted the day to end, even though I enjoyed the next one just as much.

I couldn't wait to learn to drive, I guess because I wanted to do what my Dad did so well. And I learned on a Massey Ferguson tractor at the age of twelve when I barely had the strength in my legs to push down the clutch and brake. In fact, I had to stand on them.

We had "40 acres" for me to learn on, so there was no fear of colliding with anything. Later, when my Grandaddy Kennedy came to live with us for a short while, I drove his '49 Chevy truck all over the farm as he and I fixed fence, cleaned briar patches, and cut brush along the creek.

The school bus didn't travel the Piercy Road in those days, and my mother was determined that we would not walk all the way to the Marstiller School. She instead--after a heated discussion with Principal Morris Wilmoth--enrolled us in Central School in Elkins.

That meant that Daddy delivered us there and Mother picked us up every day. They would do this for 15 years of schooling for my sister and me, regardless of the weather, which could be fierce during the winter months.

I recall homemade dresses made from sacks purchased full of feed at Altman's Feed Store. My sister and I often "matched" because Mother would tell Daddy to buy two sacks of the same cloth. We also had "store bought" clothes, of course, but I can perfectly recollect the pattern of the feed sack ones to this day.

If I compare where I am now to all the stops made along the way, it doesn't seem like I am the one who did all the traveling. But, in my heart, I know I did and I am grateful I can remember it all still today.

I have often said that I still bake bread, hang clothes on the line, and - until this year due to bad knees--plant my own garden and can, so that I won't forget where I came from. It was a good place. I'm glad I can travel back there, even though my life has now, necessarily, taken a different road. The world changes, like it or not, and there are times I don't. But aren't I fortunate to have had that childhood to remember?

I must admit that at times I wonder what happened to that farm girl. But, if I look deep enough, she's still there. She just moved to another place.



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