The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge


By Richard H. Minter © 1989

Issue: January, 1989

Memory is a precious gift -
That we build up day by day
But like out youth, before we know it,
Sometimes it just fades away.

A famous writer wrote a story
That said we couldn't go home again -
But I think we can, if we search our minds,
And remember the things that happened then.

I hope that I can find the words
That will express the way I feel:
And take us back to yesterday -
When these memories all were real.

The old house we were born in
Still stands high upon the hill:
The echoes of our younger days -
Are locked within it - still.

Our mama and our papa worked
From dawn into the night:
To buy us things we had to have
In those early years of life.

We did not have material things -
But that was no big deal:
They gave us lots of love and care -
And that's what's truly real.

All those years have come and gone
So very fast it seems:
Our memories fade, get so dim
The past seems like a dream.

But, there are things still very clear
After all the passing years:
When I recall them, even now,
My eyes get dim with tears.

When Ruby caught her dress on fire,
Went screaming down the hall:
Of all sad memories of those days -
This one is the worst of all.

When Mama lost her baby girl
We could not understand -
Why we could live, and she should die,
Before her life began.

While playing with some neighbor's boys -
Jumping high from tree to tree,
I fell down and broke my arm:
Forget that? No sir-ree!

George almost lost an eye:
It missed by just a sliver,
Paul badly split his leg,
While diving in the river.

Ruby's sled went over a bank,
The runner pierced her side:
It looked so bad, it made us sad
To think that she might die

But, let's remember the pleasant things,
When we were very young:
Our future lay ahead of us
In all the years to come.

My favorite place as a kid
Was the boy's bedroom, off the hall:
There I kept my magazines:
My movie cards were on the wall.

Many years were spent in there,
Reading by a dim lamp's light:
About strange journeys to far off worlds,
Of weird things that stalked at night.

But movies were my favorite thing,
Whenever I could get a dime:
The two best ones I ever saw
Were "King Kong" and "Frankenstein"!

After I saw "Frankenstein"
I had to walk home at night,
The road was dark: My heart beat fast:
I thought I'd die of fright!

Papa used to tell a tale,
About a "Thing" in this home:
That if we didn't behave ourselves,
We'd see a "Raw Headed Bloody Bone"!

He loved to tell Lena and Frank -
The riddle about the rooster:
For those of you, who don't recall -
I'll tell it like he used to:

"As I went down my grandma's hall,
I heard a man. He loudly called,
His head was flesh, his mouth was horn,
I never saw such a man since I've been born!"

Memories of this old house
Include many, many things,
The pump, the hall, the old front porch,
Where we like to sit and swing.

We like to play out in the yard:
To climb the big oak trees:
Play ball, hopscotch, mumble peg,
Fly kites out in the breeze.

Every summer in July
We'd go out in the woods,
To pick the ripe blackberries,
Boy, Mama's cobblers were so good!

Papa always had a store:
Being close made it handy,
To spend a few pennies that we got
For crackerjacks, pop and candy.

My favorites were huge Milky Ways,
Clark Bars, Hersheys, Baby Ruth.
In pop, it was a big "R.C."
In gum, sweet Juicy Fruit!

We liked to go down to the spring,
That was close to the house and store:
We romped, played there countless days -
back in the days of yore.

School days came all too fast -
After summer had its run:
We walked three miles every day,
At times, this was not much fun!

The Marshall-Field Mill whistle
Blew nine times each day:
It let us know the time was near,
To be out on our way.

The old Draper School we went to
Is still standing there today:
Seven years we spent there,
In class and out at play.

Of all the years I went there
In fall, spring and winter:
My biggest thrill was learning to read,
From a worn "Baby Ray" primer!

The first story I ever read
Was about "Big Billy-Goat Gruff",
How he butted the mean old "Troll"
And showed him who was really tough!

Many years have now gone by
Since those very youthful days -
But, I recall each teacher's name
As I moved from grade to grade.

In order of the years I went,
Here are the last names of all:
Lamont, Norman, Wooten, Garret, Ellis, Sledge,
The last one was Miss Sauls.

Christmas Eve was a happy time,
As Mama cooked her feast:
Ham, sausage, pinto beans.
My goodness, what a treat!

She always baked a chocolate cake,
Apple pie and other dishes,
Banana pudding, strawberry jelly,
Opened up her pickled peaches.

As Christmas neared, excitement surged:
Time seemed to go by slow,
We longed for goodies that were to come -
And hoped that it would snow.

When Christmas morning finally came
Our hearts were filled with joy:
We got oranges, nuts, candy,
And most of all, some toys!

Our parents could not get us much,
As times were tough and bad -
They did the very best they could,
With the little that they had.

Our happy days of childhood
Are now gone - just like the wind:
Only in memory may we return -
To the way things were back then.

But, the old house still stands,
Full of memories - so bitter and so sweet,
Of Mama's always busy hands:
The patter of her children's feet.

Our house was always crowded:
But we managed to survive,
As older children married and left,
Some younger ones arrived.

Harvey married Eula Kizer
At a very early age,
Robert chose Minnie Walker,
Young marriages were the rage.

Next one to leave was Viola,
Earl Medford took her from home:
George married Leva Hyler,
And Paul wed Vivian Jones.

The first memory of my life
Was the day Lena arrived,
The date was August 20th,
The year was 1925.

Our parents had eleven children,
Seven boys and four girls:
We thank them for our gift of life
That brought us to this world.

If we had never had this gift,
We'd miss so very much:
The wonder of each lovely day -
The softness of a mother's touch.

The magic of long summer days:
The silent fall of pure white snow,
The lovely color of autumn leaves,
All these things we came to know.

Because our parents gave us life,
We owe them more than tongue can tell.
We appreciate now the things they did -
To raise us right and raise us well.

So, once again we thank them,
For the miracle of our birth:
From Jerry, who was their last one,
To Harvey, who was the first.

The old house has been changed
By many different hands:
Each one has improved it some -
But the basic house still stands.

Another Mrs. Minter now lives
In the house of Mama's life.
She, too, has a gentle heart,
Mildred is my own dear wife.

She brings joy to my life -
Just the way my mother did:
She takes good care of Mama's house,
And one of Mama's kids!

Mildred knows about the past
Of our family - good and bad:
The early years were happy,
The later ones so sad.

Now, I have almost reached the end
Of this tribute to our past,
Some memories came back slowly:
Others rushed up very fast.

I hope that all the family
Has enjoyed this little poem
About our early days of innocence -
In this house where some were born.

So, I'll end the way I started,
About the old house on the hill,
Those days were mostly happy ones -
And it is that way - still.

Let us pause in loving memory
Of our loved ones gone before:
Our mother, father, brother Harvey -
Waiting on an unknown shore.

Their memory is still with us:
May they rejoice to know,
That their family, yet to follow -
Are all closer here below.

We do not know the meaning of life,
But, perhaps, someday we'll understand
The reason why we live and die -
And how we fit the Master's plan.

But, even if we never know,
I'll say this once again:
We thank our parents for our lives,
And hope to see them when it ends.