My family and I moved into that house when I was six-months old. Well, I don’t actually remember that, but that’s what I’ve been told. I lived in that old house, and on that piece of property, until I was almost 20. Mama spent the rest of her life there. She moved to heaven 19-years ago and no one has lived in the house since then. The old house, which was never on quite the same level as the Biltmore, has almost completely fallen in now. Even though I haven’t lived there in a long time, the old place was where so many things began for me. My mind holds more memories from there than I have time to share, and probably more than you care to hear.
One of my earliest and favorite activities there involved robbing the chickens. No, I didn’t take their money. Chickens don’t have money, because they don’t have purses, but they do have eggs. Each morning, I knew there would be freshly-laid eggs in their nests, but I was still always a little surprised to find them, and I was always more than a little excited. It was like hunting Easter eggs every day, except they weren’t dyed or painted. Robbing eggs from Lucy was not quite as much fun. Lucy was our only goose, so her eggs didn’t hatch, but that didn’t stop her from sitting on them. She would have sat there until the cows came if I didn’t rob her nest. Have you ever been bitten by a goose? You won’t die from it, but it doesn’t feel good either. Speaking of the cows, we had one. Her name was Betty. I wasn’t very old when Mama decided to sell her, because she wouldn’t come home. I tried to milk her, but I had much more success getting milk at Bobo’s dairy farm than from Betty.
I had lots of watery places to play, fish, and swim in on that old homeplace. I had Jim’s Pond directly in front of our house. It has since been drained and filled in. An automated car wash now sets where I once caught bream and bass. Ivy Creek meandered across our property. A boy could catch fish, snakes, turtles, and poison ivy at Ivy Creek. Patton’s Pond was just up the hill from our house. It was a much larger lake. It was there that my friend Ronald and Mrs. Stella Patton taught me to swim.
Mama’s hundred-acre garden sat on the back half-acre of our land. My older sister Joan had a little play house beside the garden. It really wasn’t a house at all but three planks of wood running across a few cement blocks. Sis cooked up all kinds of imaginary meals there and real muds pies. She claimed her mud pies were various flavors, but they all tasted like dirt to me! Strangely, she never ate any.
Dad’s coal and building supply business was located on the front parcel of our land. I rode my red 26-inch Western Flyer around the world several times on the quarter-of-a-mile dirt road that stretched from Dad’s business to our house.
In that old house Mama taught me about God and Jesus, read the Bible to me, and taught me how to pray. We went to church on Sundays to expand what Mama taught at home.
As of last week, the place where I grew up and experienced so many of those first things, now belongs to someone else. We sold the place, but kept the memories. I will treasure them for as long as I can still remember.
— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.