The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Moving On

By Ernest F. Reynolds © 1990

Issue: August, 1990

"We'll be moving by September," Papa said as he shook the April rain from his yellow slicker.

Mommie said, "O'pon my word, did the Spanglers take your offer on their house?"

"They sore did, and glad to get it. Their son must be smart, he's going to typewrite the deed hisself and I'll pay $450 when the old folks sign and pass it to me. They said I'd know when he's ready by seeing his horse in the yard.

Grandma Lucybell, came rushing out, stuck her head out over the banisters and got her hair switch soaked. She squirted a stream of snuff out into the rain-soaked crab grass. "I knowed you clinched that deal when you forked over that fifty dollar bill at time you writ your last offer on that paper poke. They'd druther die than give up that fifty. My William is one smart trader, and don't you forget it. "She turned bright red when she found herself talking to the porch column.

Forgetting his smart Pa, Little Ernest rushed indoors to pack his clothes and discovered nothing to pack. His worldly assets were in the wash. He did all he could. Taking a chair from the eating table he climbed up, removed a brass-studded dog collar from the hat rack, and buckled it on a big black and tan dog, ole Shep.

Papa chimed in, "The Spanglers want to stay on until their garden makes up. They are moving back to Giles, Virginia." He looked around to determine to whom he was talking, and added, "You heard that, didn't you? You be ready by September."

Papa was like a worm in hot ashes, squirming, fidgeting and mumbling, "I'll leave this, or I'll need that." Each evening when he arrived he would relate the progress the Spanglers were making, and who he had engaged to truck our household plunder once the Spanglers were on their way to Giles

Papa was happier than a preacher at a camp meeting. He rushed into the kitchen and blurted, "No hogs to slop, no cow to milk, no chickens to feed. Riley Durham is moving in here on the day we move out. You women will be ladies of leisure, and I'll be a Gentleman Farmer.

Grandma Lucybell, puckered like she do when she's a-gona spit, and stayed puckered up, "Harump! Gentleman Farmer! With a six-acre rock farm; and a one-eyed drunken sharecropper?" Leaning far out over the porch railing Granny expressed contempt. She spat about a half-cup of snuff-juice on one of Mommie's biddies that wasn't feathered out yet; pert' nigh drount the liddle feller.

Dad strutted up and down the porch with no one to respect his accomplishments but Shep. Little E. scampered off to keep his ducks informed.

The two older children, girls in pigtails, talked of nothing but getting their hair "bobbed" like town girls, once they moved.

Uncle Riley set up his forge and moved his rock cutting tools under the cow shed. "Riley will put em ar rocks in perspective," Papa said as he resumed his strut up the sagging porch.

"Pichooo!" Granny said, missing a chick by a pinfeather. "Since you bought that callapsidated barn offen Spangler, and hired that one-eyed stone cutter, you've started prancing about like a southern planter with a hand in every corner."

"Aye doggies!" Pa said, "You and Helen can cast off yur mukluks and wear slippers. Thez a-gona tar the road past our house, plum to Giatto." Granny gave a double, "Pichooo! pichooo! and added. You better keep yer plug of Brown's Mule terbacker in yur pants. Little Ernest has to be stripped and bathed every day atter you leave fer work. He's a-whittling off a chew with our butcher knife, and a-throwing up all over hisself.

"T'ain't my problem. If he can't chew, without throwing up, he'll get the habit." His voice trailed off as his mare, Dixie, single-footed away.

Vest's Hardware truck had been engaged to move our furniture. In a shower of dust and a cloud of smoke the truck backed up to our two story porch. "We'll load the upstairs stuff first and set the stoves on the rear," the black helper was told.

Grandma Lucybell and Papa 'were a-fixin to fight. "I'll not leave no good churn here fer One-Eyed Riley's old woman to mommix up."

Pa shoved the churn back indoors. "I ain't a-moving no churn. Riley's woman will churn. If you want a town churn, I'll buy one that cranks."

Lucybell drew herself erect and answered, "Pichooo!" she said.

Pa squatted to inspect the truck tarrs. "Had I a-knowed this was a solid-tarred truck I woulda got a spring wagon to haul my dishes, glassware, and mirrors." he said.

"Don't move this truck 'till I get back with a spring wagon," Pa shouted as he high-tailed toward the barn. Back in less than two hours with his saddle horse lathered whiter than a klu klux sheet, Pa was driving a Pinto mare and spring-wagon.

At last Mommie handed up a mop. "That's it." she panted, "Do we ride the truck er the wagon?"

You'll walk on ahead and take them girls. I ain't a-spooking Pierce Houndshell's pinto hoss and wagon.

Granny came out on the top porch and ordered the trucker to bring back one bed. "I'm a-staying on till atter the November 'lection. This is the first time women have had the vote, and I don't aim ter be disenfranchised by moving outta my precinct."

Pa gave a wipe-out signal to the loaders, and said respectfully to his mother, "Take these two yungens and your fat precinct down the big road. You vote in Matoaka. I done fixed it so you can."

Granny said, "pichooo,! a few times. She caught Little Ernest and his baby brother by a hand each moseyed off down the lane.

Shep wedged in between Granny and Ernest, and got a set of sore ribs for favoring the little lad. There was a lot of kick in that ole chick.

Dad had unsaddled and put Dixie, his saddle mare, to pasture. He wound a few hundreds yards of baling twine around both loads. Mounting the springy seat behind the pinto hoss, he signaled "highball" to black Mack who was patiently holding the crank of the big truck.

As timing goes it was a fair start. The truck backfired, the smoke rolled, and the Pinto bolted. Pa drapped his buggy switch when he grabbed for his hat that was raked off as he went under the clothes line. One front wheel of the spring-wagon rolled back in the yard as the rig cleared the first hurdle, a two-foot stone wall. The sideways lurch caused Pa to forget the reins and cling to the seat.

The next obstacle was our prickley gooseberry hedge. The Pinto's under-belly parts suffered most from the barbs. Pa took a terrific drubbing as he negotiated the low limbed peach orchard. His barrel of dishes fell overboard and took a disoriented course as the hoops went by the board.

As the spring-wagon jumped over a stump, the tail board bounced out. Pa's looking glasses began sliding out one at a time. Next went two trunks with our kerosene lights and them fancy chimnies. The spring seat toppled back when the rear wheels slid off over the coupling pole. Papa came sliding down the wagon bed in scooting position.

The Pinto raced along the high fence that Pa said was bull-strong, hoss-high, and pig-tight. Slacking off, she did a half-lap of the Reynolds' six acres before halting before our combination horse-trough and or hog-scalding tank.

The black man was cool in emergencies. He pulled Papa off the seat to which he still clung and said softly, "I'll pick up and fix that wagon. If Ize can find the lynch pin, and the axle nut, I'll be down to yo place before you get unloaded.

Papa said, "Mack, you do that but don't tell Mommie or my wife that that Pinto spooked.

"No Suh, Ize not tell no nothing!"

True to Mack's estimate, wheels were remounted, load repacked, and Pinto clipped off the mile to Matoaka before the load was carried in.

In confidence, Mack broke the news. "Dat churn wid a pink rose de onliest thing busted."

"My Mommie must have snuk it on whilst I was lashing down that furniture. Mack, I really decided to switch to creamery butter when I seen Riley's housekeeper," Papa said, as he pressed a silver dollar into Mack's hand.

Mack slipped the silver cart-wheel into Little Ernest's overall bib, as he said, "Ernest, aft'r dark, wez take a sack and go move dem ducks."