By Wayne Easter © 2015
Online: May 2015
Editor's Note: Wayne Easter lives in Mt Airy, North Carolina with his wife of 57 years, Helen. He has written three books about his early years growing up, "way out in the weeds at the foot of the Blue Ridge." His talent for taking one along on memory trips to his early days on Stewart Creek's, makes reading his stories a genuine pleasure. He has written three books, "Stewart's Creek: (The End of an Era) ," "In the Foothills of Home: Memories of growing up in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains," and, "Roads Once Traveled: In the Foothills of the Blue Ridge." All are available on amazon.com.
Do you have fond memories of your old home place? Is it still there? Ever think about going back? If so, and it's not too far away, maybe you should before it's too late, and while you're at it, take along a camera, set a spell, do some daydreaming, and you'll be glad you did. As old timers, we tend to dwell on the good old days, when the world was brand new, and we could hardly wait to get out there and find out what it was all about. My family and I lived close to the earth, as generations of our forebears had done before us, but when I grew up, I moved away; knowing the old folks and the old place would always be there when I went back.
Thomas Wolfe tells us in his novel, "You Can't Go Home Again," but thanks to memory and some photographs from the early years, I beg to differ. One day in 2011, I drove back to the family home place on Banjo Lane, just off Pine Ridge Road near the North Carolina/ Virginia state line; where I grew up in the 1930s and '40s. Yes! You guessed it! Home and all of the out buildings were long gone, and the only remains of the house were some cinderblocks from the underpinning, a few bricks from the chimney and the old well. A small black walnut tree that once stood beside the west yard was now a huge black walnut tree. Across the valley, the pasture had grown up into fully-grown woods, and looked nothing like I remembered.
I sat in the shade of an old oak tree that still stands across the road from where our granary once stood; the same tree we hung the hog from at hog-killing time. If I looked close, I could see the house still standing nearby; our safe haven from the storms of life, once upon a time. I could feel the heat from the wood heater and smell the great meals Mom cooked on the wood stove. Best of all, if I listened very close, I could hear rain falling on the tin roof, as we slept the night away, safe from all harm, while we dreamed of tomorrow, and all the great places we would go.
I fought honeysuckle and blackberry vines downhill to the spring, where we carried water from in the early years. On the way there, four wild turkeys flew up from almost underfoot and made so much noise, I almost ran. Our "bold" spring was now just a trickle and the spring box, garden place and the old cow shed? All were long gone. When my dad died, Mom sold the home place and moved away, but by looking close, I could still see him plowing the 'tater patch, while my brother and I hoed dirt up around the plants. Mom was still washing clothes beside the garden; in a washtub over an outdoor fire, and hanging them on the garden fence to dry.
Just down the valley, the maples bloomed red again in spring, and "Sarvice" (Service) trees bloomed white in the bare woods. Up on the hillside, apple, peach and pear blooms lit up the whole world; telling me that winter was gone again. I could see winter snows, summer thunderstorms, huge woods to explore, rivers to run, and found fond memories of everything and every season everywhere I looked, and it was just like yesterday.
Maybe Thomas Wolfe couldn't go home again, but, as I found out, you and I can, and the old home place and the old folks will always be there, if only in memory.