Hogs, Olds, and nickel RC’s . . .

Published 2:09 pm Friday, April 15, 2011

“We do not know the true value of our moments until they have undergone the test of memory.” — Georges Duhamel

Ever wish you could step back in time and relive certain days or events in your life? Maybe young folks don’t think about things like this, but perhaps because I’m within a stone’s throw of celebrating seven decades, I think about it often. Well, I guess I don’t think about it often, but I think about it, especially when I see or read something that reminds me of good times past.

I just finished reading a marvelous little book titled “Stories From The Hart,” written by my good friend Anne Hart Preus. The stories are factual and based on memories of growing up in rural Tallahatchie County in the ’50s and ’60s, an era of mostly happy times for Anne, but also the era of the Emmett Till murder and, as she expresses it, social boundaries one would not dare breach.

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Most of her stories are humorous, though, and one of Anne’s earliest memories was of the time she showed a 900-pound hog at the 4-H fair. She’s a tiny thing, my friend, to this day, and as a hog-showing child, she stood barely 4 feet tall and probably weighed no more than 60 pounds, soaking wet. She was no match for the hog, which bolted from her grasp and began to climb into the stands, scattering spectators hither and thither. When all was said and done, however, her hog won the Grand Champion purple ribbon.

“Somehow,” she relates, “I managed to accept the ribbon and prod that horrible hog out of the pen and into history. That ended my career in the livestock arena, but it was the beginning of the crazy adventures I’ve had in my life. . . just a pigpen away from excitement. It did not take much to entertain us.”

Anne then launches into story after story, filling 130 pages with some of the most wonderful tales, helping me, indeed, to relive my childhood. (Thankfully, though, hogs and I never crossed paths.)

One of my favorite memories involves visiting with kinfolks on Sunday afternoons, a time of porch swings and lemonade and lots of cousins. Anne describes it like this:

“Sunday afternoons were prime visitin’ times. Around three o’clock, footsteps could be heard on the porch, and Dolly and Morris Houston or Alyce and Billy Bradshaw would come in for an afternoon of conversation and refreshments. There was always a cake or pie (made from scratch) to enhance the coffee, and these were served on a china plate with china cups. A paper plate dared not appear . . . Visitin’ also took the form of cousins coming . . .”

Anne tells of fresh milk, straight from Daisy the cow, stage planks (pink icing on a gingerbread slab), banana popsicles, nickel RCs, fresh vegetables out of the garden, and 25 cent-a-gallon gasoline. Anybody else remember?

And Anne’s 1953 Oldsmobile, the “Green Bomb,” brought back visions of my straight-shift, baby blue 1956 Hudson, a real beauty. She also reminded me of those awful Toni home permanents, which she called “torture personified,” blaming Shirley Temple for all the misery we little girls of the ’50s endured. The “smell of that acrid permanent,” she moans, will never leave her, nor the horror of the “permanent rods” pulling on her sensitive scalp. Yep, I went there too, and the perms never worked for me either.

Anne’s vivid writing took me back, way back, to pleasant childhood times, helping me relive bedtime on those lovely spring and summer evenings after a hard day’s play. After supper and warm baths, she writes, “(we) climbed into crisp, clean sheets that had been dried outside and smelled so fresh… Our tired bodies, soothed by a comforting bath, took solace in those luxurious sheets and offered no resistance to the sandman, who stood ready to whisk us away into dreamland. Another day had slipped into our memories.”

 Get a copy of “Stories From The Hart.” The memories will come flooding back. You’ll love it!

 [Write: bethjacks@hotmail.com ]