Trip to Arkansas, August 19-22, 1974

Shirley and Ronnie with Jennifer Midge Howard, born on August 2.

Grandma Dorothy with Jeff and Mark when they got their first view of their cousin Jennifer.

Once again, I took the opportunity to take Jeff and Mark by locations that were significant in my childhood. Blount Hohn was a close friend throughout high school - he was the quarterback for our high school football team and I was an offensive gaurd right beside him. He pitched for the baseball team and I was catcher. This was the Parsley Store during my childhood, but Blount married Mary Parsley and it became their store.

This is a view westward to Dorothy's house on the hill from Jim and Karen's trailer. Every inch of this view was known to me as a child as I ran and rode a horse across this field, chopped and picked cotton it in, and worked on the other crops that we sometimes grew there. Dorothy's house is on the site of the house I grew up in, which tragically burned to the ground in 1959. Even the lone pear tree out in the field mid left brings back many memories of climbing for pears, picking up pears, and doing battle with the amazingly large wasp nests that were often built in it.

Jim prepares to give Jeff a ride on his motorcycle. This was a first for Jeff.

Jim and Jeff ride westward on the road that I traveled as a boy by foot, by bicyle, by car and by schoolbus. It was a dirt road then. Just beyond where Jim and Jeff are was a shallow pond that Philippe and I played in as boys, capturing tadpoles. We could hear the peeping of the frogs here in the springtime, a sound that I always love now, perhaps in recollection of that early experience. The country was much wilder then, and we sometimes heard the howling of wolves from the woods that are in the distance - I remember thinking of those woods as a very wild place.

This is another scene which is etched indelibly into my mind from my childhood. It is a very fond image - the 3.5 acre field between our house and the Burlisons. Philippe and I and the Burlisons - Sonny, Roy Lee and Betty, played baseball endlessly in the part of the field closest to their house. It was the flattest part and made the best baseball field. We also grew cotton, soybeans and corn in this field at various times and we worked in the fields for all those crops. Our pump was about a hundred feet down into this field when I was growing up since we couldn't get water at the height of the top of the hill. I tended a large garden in the left part of this view during my high school years as a part of my FFA project, and previously did gardening as part of a 4-H Club. Some of my earliest memories were of taking our big horses down into this field to the pump to get water. Dad would put me and Philippe up on the big Belgian horses as he walked them down to the watering trough. The direction of this view is slightly north of west.

This view is eastward from the top of the hill by Dorothy's house, the hill I ran around on from the time I could walk. I was actually born in the old homeplace there. In view is Jim and Karen's trailer and the house of Robert Young and family beyond it. The Young's owned the adjoining farm and I remember them as good folks. We cooperated with each other when stock were loose and were generally helpful to each other. They had a storm cellar, and we had an open invitation to come there for shelter in time of storm.

This view is slightly south of east toward Diaz, which is about a mile down the tracks. It swings about twenty degrees toward the south from the view above. The trees in the distance are on the boundary of our property with the Young's property. A stream ran through there and through a culvert under the railroad and down to the lake which crossed both our property and the Young's. We referred to that grown up area around the creek as "the thicket" or "the willow thicket". Philippe and I would chase crayfish in the stream, of course known to us as "crawdads" - I never heard the term crayfish until much later. We also grew enormous sweet potatoes in a patch next to the thicket. Another vivid memory of my very young childhood was a train wreck which happened when the wooden culvert was burned out. I remember Wanda and Dorothy walking me down to see the wreck where the engine had plowed off the tracks and to the edge of our field.

There was also a large blackberry patch in the area of the thicket, so we picked blackberries there many times. We were always on the watch for snakes, which commonly inhabited the blackberry patch. We took our little dog with us to watch for snakes.

Jim leads Jeff toward the remaining pear tree, one of the two which stood here during my childhood. These trees gave us many bushels of pears each year. The view here is toward the thicket described above, and to the right of this view is the railroad track, hidden by the vegetation. We traveled this path many times to the little road that went across the railroad tracks to our fields next to the lake.

Jeff and Mark stand on the railroad tracks that split our farm in half. To the left, past the mowed field, is the thicket and the east boundary of our property. In the distance, with enough imagination, you can see some of the structures of Diaz which straddled the tracks.

Jim and Jeff chomp on apples on the bank of the Old Bergen Lake which was on our farm. It was the site of many adventures for Philippe and I as boys. It is the source of one of my teaching stories, which involves shooting at shallow gar fish, and missing them because they were deeper than they appeared to be. I use that tale to teach about light bending at the surface of the water. We did indeed shoot at a lot of turtles and gar fish in this lake - it is an important part of my childhood.

I don't know what Jeff and Mark are pointing at, except they are pointing at me. Philippe and I must have done about the same sort of thing when we were their ages.

Jeff starts to school!

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