The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Tomboy Taylor

By Martha Cockrell Robinson © 1992

Issue: June, 1992

"Marthy, you get down off that barn before you fall and break your neck!" Maw called from the porch. She'd spied me walking around on top of the tin-roofed barn. This was nothing new. It seemed that I loved to be always climbing, running, jumping, skipping and hopping about. I definitely was a physically active child. My sister was the exact opposite. She wasn't fond of climbing at all. Occasionally I could coax her up a tree. Sometimes she couldn't get back down!

There had been a young girl in a family of Maw's acquaintance by the last name of Taylor. Because she was such a tomboy they'd nicknamed her "Tomboy Taylor" and as I grew stronger and became more and more inclined to climb trees and walk barbed wire fences, I was daubed "Tomboy Taylor" also.

Anything that was high above the ground was a challenge. I loved to climb out the attic window and walk around on top of the house. Climbing trees was the thing I liked best of all, I think. There was a place where two large branches met near the top of a peach tree where I loved to climb, taking with me a book and an apple. There I would sit perched among the leafy branches, hidden from view, and enjoy reading my book and eating my apple. Many happy hours were spent in this manner.

I remember one not-so-happy incident involving tree climbing. Mama had made my sister and me new dresses to wear for the Fourth of July. Mine was a firecracker-red and white plaid, and I was very proud of it. I climbed the apple tree to get an apple to eat (knowing full well that the apples were not yet ripe enough to eat, and also knowing full well that we were not allowed to eat green apples because you get a stomach ache from eating green apples). I waited until I thought Maw, Mama and Aunt Pheelie were settled on the front porch, then I climbed up in the tree and was just about to pick me an apple when I thought I heard one of them calling. I tried to jump down fast and in my haste my new dress caught on a sawed-off branch sticking out on the side of the tree. My back was badly skinned in the process and I hung there with my dress over the stump and my arms and legs waving, unable to do anything but hang there (and scream, I might add). Well, everybody came running. They thought I'd killed myself for sure. My new dress was badly torn, but Mama mended it and applied medicine to my skinned back. You would think that I'd learned my lesson, but I hadn't. The next opportunity which presented itself, I was right back to climbing again.

I might add here that, though they were always yelling at me to get down out of a tree or off the top of the barn, guess who had the chore of climbing on the barn to spread out the peaches to dry when the time came - none other than "Tomboy Taylor!"