Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Old Barns & Houses
Do you know how you can tell an 'old-timer' from someone new to the area? Ask directions. The 'old-timer' will tell you to take a turn where 'Ole Mr. Smith' used to live. They won't tell you who lives there now if there is still a house even standing. While I definitely do not consider myself old, I end up doing the same thing. A friend asked me recently if I knew where a certain road was located. She had never heard of it and I immediately knew why. The road was renamed when our county established the 911 emergency system years ago. I don't think it ever had a name before, probably just a county road number. But, we always referred to it as 'the road to Miss Hattie's house.' We called it that years after Miss Hattie had passed on to Heaven.
Maybe it's a way of hanging on to the past and keeping those friends and neighbors alive in our memories. I have no idea who lived in the old house above, but I used to sit in front of it waiting while Mom stripped tobacco in a nearby barn. Almost every evening, I would have my school work finished by the time she was finished stripping tobacco. Then we'd head home, dropping off neighbor ladies along the way. Back in the Hollow, stripping tobacco was something usually done by older women as a way to earn spending money or even provide for themselves in hard times. While social security was around, for most of these women, they received very little income if any at all. I had an Aunt who actually drew $98 a month. Even years ago it was a shameful amount.
As things continue to change around me on an almost daily basis, I really do long for those days in the Hollow. They were hard times, but we had ways of providing for ourselves. As more and more of those ways fade into the past, I wonder what will become of us all and who will be around to teach the next generation.