Friday, January 22, 2016

Front Porch Memories


When I was a boy of maybe 8 or 10 we was visitin' my Grandpa and Grandma Hollen over to Little Creek in Clay County, Kentucky. (Mind you now, this was before Route 66 crossed right through their land within 20 yards of their home.)
I remember it was early summer. My little brother an' I was playin' in the front room - the room that was combination sittin' room an' my grandparent's bedroom. Daddy, Grandpa an' Uncle Bert were out back. Mama an' Grandma was cookin' dinner (that's lunch for you city folks. In the mountains we had breakfast, dinner an' supper.)
I heard a "halloo" called up from the front yardt an' went to the screen door. A neighbor couple was standin' there with their 5 year old daughter in her Daddy's arms. Her foot was wrapped in a towel an' blood had stained through the cloth. He asked if Uncle Bert or my Daddy was around and I said "yessir, hold on a minute".
I ran inside an' told Grandma they was out front an' the little gal was bleedin'. I ran out the back door an' called to Uncle Bert an' Daddy to come quick. They came around the house right quick but Grandma had already gone to the porch an' learned the little gal had been tryin' to hoe the garden an' had cut her foot somethin' terrible.
They wrapped her foot an' walked way over a mile down the creek to ask if Uncle Bert could take them over to Red Bird Mission Hospital. Grandma asked them to come sit for a They wouldn't come up on the porch to sit for a minute. They said no, they didn't want blood to get on the wood boards of the porch.
While Daddy an' Uncle Bert went in to put shirts on, gather up their wallets an' keys, Grandma found some clean cloth an' they rewrapped the little ol' gal's foot. I was right there watchin' an' it was so deep, so bad, still bleedin' hard.
Grandma went in again, washed her hands,got out some leftover biscuits, cut 'em open an' filled each with either sausage or bacon leftover from breakfast. She handed them to me (after she made me wash my hands) an' sent me out to give them to the neighbors. She knew the wait at the hospital would be long.
They were so grateful. Both the Daddy an' Mama thanked Grandma over an' over. The little ol' gal was so bashful she kept her face hidden on her Daddy's chest, but turned toward me to say "thank ye" as I handed her a biscuit.
They went in Daddy's car instead of Uncle Bert's truck since it had more room. I went back to playin' with my little brother. Grandpa went out to sit on the porch, Grandma an' Mama went back to the kitchen to continue to prepare dinner.
It was late in the evenin', long after dark when we saw Daddy's car come up the creek an' continue on past the house takin' the neighbors home. Mama let us stay up till Daddy came home.
We was all sittin' in the dark waitin' for them to return an' to hear news of the little girl. I remember tendrils of smoke from the gnat smoke wanderin' this way an' that as I fanned it. Lightnin' bugs danced in the dark an' tree frogs sang all round us.
Grandma was the first to see the headlights of Daddy's car way down the creek an' ask, "Reckon that is Jim's car?" It was, of course. No one else had much reason to drive up Little Creek through the rough creek bed late in the evenin'.
A few minutes later we all spied the headlights comin' back down the creek an' up the hill to Grandpa's house. When Daddy an' Uncle Bert was a' gettin' out of the car Grandma was already callin', "How is that youngin'?".
They came up, sat down an' both rolled a cigarette as they told the story in tandem. Daddy said she had a bunch of stitches in her foot but she would be fine. Uncle Bert chuckled an' said folks all over the hospital could hear her cryin' an' screamin' as they cleaned up her foot (she had been barefooted) an' then stitched it up. He laughed, "Folks probably thought they was a'sawin' it off instead of stitchin' it up.".
We all laughed an' I sat quiet as the grown folks talked about the family, "good folks", "Now who's her people", "His Daddy still goes to church over the the Hard Shell Baptist Church up on Gilbert's Creek".
Later Mama told me an' my brother it was time for bed. We grumbled, hugged necks, said our "good nights" and wandered off to crawl under the quilts on the ol' iron bed.
The grown folks stayed up for a right smart while longer. I could hear their voices in the dark, could smell the gnat smoke, (a piece of rolled up cotton still smolderin' to keep away the bitin' bugs), mixed with the smoke from hand rolled cigarettes. As I laid there I wished I was grown so I could stay up an' hear the secrets they told when the youngin's was gone to bed.
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