Today, mine is a private view of the clear blue afternoon sky while listening to some soft country music from my friends just a few miles north in Nashville…
Whatever your age or phase of life, always do your best. Then…
As you prepare for life’s next chapter, simply look back, ponder briefly, and say to yourself. “I did my part. I made a difference, and it was crazy fun!”
Then smile, face forward and turn the page …
W F Lovelady
There is one thing I’ve learned in life. Life itself is a process- a lifecycle. You have to let it unfold. Then define it and refine it. So trust in yourself…
Some stories are so far fetched they are unbelievable. To this day, my mother insists her stories are true. Set during the civil war, this story is her memory of a story of an earlier generation. As told by my mother, her great-grandmother Cricket experienced a frightening and unforgettable trip to the Mill – Falls Mill.
I hope you enjoy… W.F. Lovelady
During the civil war, my great grandmother (on my dad’s side) was a little girl ten years old. She lived with her sharecropper family. Farming everything from corn, potatoes and cotton, the family received one-third of the harvested crop as food and a source of income.
Crops were plentiful that year, and it was time to take the corn to the Grist Mill (Falls Mill) in Belvedere, TN so that the corn could be ground into meal. Cricket was elected to go as all other family members had the flu.
“Cricket,” Papa declared. “It’s up to you. For without meal to make bread, we will not make it through the winter.” Papa continued. “Follow the road to the Mill. Then after they grind the corn into meal, take the same road back to Hog Holler.”
Cricket did as she was told. She traveled the lonely dirt road to the Mill, had the corn ground into meal, and then returned to the horse and started back down the old dirt road toward Hog Holler. Cricket did not get very far until a troop of Union soldiers began to pass her and her horse. One soldier dressed in blue, approach Cricket and demanded her horse. Terrified, little Cricket began to cry hysterically. The soldier told her again to dismount the horse. Unsure what to do, a frightened Cricket held tight and remained in the saddle fearing she might fall to the ground.
You see, her journey required assistance. Because she was so small, Papa placed her on the horse to begin the journey, and later the workers of the mill assisted her in her dismount and then her remount.
Now impatient, the soldier lifted Cricket under her arms and sat her on a nearby rock soon leaving with both horse and meal. Even more scared and unsure what to do, Cricket sat on the rock with tears streaming down her cheeks. Cricket had heard so many stories of Yankee soldiers. She continued to sob. Through a veil of tears, Cricket watched as the rest of the troops passed. At the end of the line, a well-dressed soldier approached Cricket. Presumed to be an officer, he had many shiny buttons on his chest. The officer saw Cricket huddled on the rock trembling like a frightened mouse. He halted his great white horse, and asked, “What’s wrong little girl?”
Cricket, sniffling, nervously told the gentlemen about her family and her task to have the harvested corn ground into meal for the family’s winter food source. Cricket continued in a quivering voice and mentioned the soldier who took both her horse and meal. The officer leaned over, pat Cricket on the head, and told her not to worry. He then rode off on his white horse. Minutes later the officer returned with Cricket’s horse and grain. He then stepped off his horse, lifted Cricket back onto her horse, with grain behind, and declared, “I don’t make war with small children and sick persons.” Patting her on the head, the officer handed Cricket the reins and re-assured that she would be safe on her return home.
Cricket finally retuned home safely. She couldn’t wait to tell Papa about her scary experience, and the gentleman that had ensured her safe return. Cricket even mentioned the officer’s name, Mr. Grant.
Having common values and trust enable people to connect.
Over the course of our finite lives, each one of us acquires not only common knowledge but also very unique ideas and perspectives, thus making us different.
Do not be afraid, but more so understand and respect our differences. For the sum of our combined knowledge is much greater than the individual.
Once we understand this, only then can we connect and leverage the full possibilities or our life’s’ purpose…
W. F. Lovelady
(Memories from my seventy-four year old mother form the basis for this post. I hope you enjoy… W. F. Lovelady)
In middle Tennessee, just west the Cumberland Plateau, once laid a small community called Hog Holler. To get there, simply turn left on highway 121 just outside of Hunt land – off old Fayetteville highway. Next travel past the old civil war era cemetery down the old dirt road just a few hundred yards. To the left and right rest hundreds of trees, all types (birch, pecan, maple, sycamore) that not only line the road’s entrance but also shade the lawns were the town folk once dwelled. That was many years ago. The clarity of my memory continues to fade.
Remembering back, however, rolling Tennessee hills, fertile stream valleys, and green pasturelands paint the small township while brown wooden cabins hosts a community of families and friends. Pasturelands are lined with wooden fences that both contain the local herd and occasionally act as a podium to host one’s declaration to their audience.
The cabin floors and roofs are made of old wooden boards, both with cracks so large outside elements reveal during the mildest and the harshest of times. The summer presents a beautiful starlight dark grey night sky; and the winters lay white snow on the colorful hand made bedroom blankets covering the residents. During the winters, smoke bellows both from the cabin chimneys and the smoke houses containing slaughtered hogs. The smell of cured meats often filled the air.
Everyone knows everyone – friends and relatives alike. The townsmen, mostly sharecroppers, work during the day farming corn, cotton and even whiskey.
Grandparents and parents often live under the same roof. The evening entertainment begins with porch-side relaxation. The elders usually enjoy smoking tobacco, sipping black coffee, picking at the old wooden guitar, and sharing ghost stories. Soft music echoes throughout the holler while Grandma or Grandpa share an old ghostly legend.
Weekends bring everyone together with town socials, picnics and Church. The ladies gather for quilting parties, while the children play horseshoes and stickball. It isn’t uncommon for a young couple in love to stop a passing preacher on his horse and request assistance to be married. The preacher steps down off his horse, stands on the lower portion of the wooden fence and carries out the ceremony.
Leaving Hog Holler isn’t something folks take lightly as danger seems to lurk in the distance. To leave Hog Holler, one would pass the old cemetery and continue along the old dirt road. You could take the fork to the left and head to Falls Mills – a lonely trail that might reveal union soldiers, shady mountain men, or even Indians. There, crop could be ground into meal as well as sold to buy eggs, flour, beans, and other necessities.
The road’s fork right leads up the hill. At the top of the hill lies the home of an old witch who townsmen beg a safe distance to avoid unwanted spells toward their families and crops. At the base of the hill, an old wooden bridge borders the dark trail through a forest of lifeless trees leading to the old hag’s home. Under the bridge lives a troll name Tolak. In the event evil falls upon a Hog Holler home, the family leader may seek the witch’s help only with the permission of Tolak and a sacrade offering – a rare White Rose. Only with this gift of purity and Tolok’s safe escort, the family leader could then beg pardon from the old witch – hopefully restoring peace to his family and livelihood.
W. F. Lovelady