Last week our three young grandsons—Trey, Jakey, and Will--spent a week in Pine Grove—a seven day escape from the big city of Atlanta. We swam, we saw “Maleficient” (except 11 year-old Trey, who’s far too old for a Disney movie), we shopped for MORE Legos, and we enjoyed our week tremendously. I can’t at the moment remember why we were in Hazlehurst that day, but we were and driving down/up Gill Street.
“Boys,” I said, “see that parking lot over there. Aunt Sarah Nell and I grew up in a pink house where the parking lot is now. There were six big pecan trees, and I had a rope swing that Daddy hung for me in one of the biggest of the trees.”
They looked systematically, seeing only rows of cars and battered trucks parked on the pavement.
“Where’d you play?” Will asked. “In the parking lot?”
“No, Will,” I replied. “The parking lot wasn’t there then. We had a yard and clothes lines and a sidewalk. I rode my bike there and climbed Aunt Jincey’s dogwood trees.”
“We don’t know Aunt Jincey,” Jakey replied. “We know Aunt Sarah Nell. Was Aunt Jincey your sister, too?”
“No, she was my Daddy’s aunt. She died long before you were born.”
The boys gazed thoughtfully at the parking lot, and I wondered what pictures their imaginations were painting for them.
“Right over there beside the factory was a road where the big trucks came in to unload materials, and at the back was a steep ramp for the trucks to back into so workers could easily move the new sewing fabrics into the plant,” I explained. “Aunt Sarah Nell and I rode our bikes down there on the weekend, especially if rain had half filled the area with water.”
I carefully omitted the fact that our mother had strictly forbidden our riding down there, but what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt us. The boys didn’t need the information that their grandmother had disobeyed orders. They could use it against me.
“Where was your swing?” Jakey asked.
As I tried to explain, I could once again feel the wind blowing through my long honey-colored hair and smell the fresh earth beneath my bare feet as I kicked off, flying so high in the air that my feet touched the heavy boughs of the pecan tree. I saw again the windows of my bedroom, where I snuggled in the winter under Mama’s handmade quilts and read my books with the flashlight Daddy had given me for that very purpose.
For the complete column pick up your copy of The Baxley News-Banner on newsstands today or CLICK HERE to Subscribe.