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Open Features: Gathering Up

...Visitors were always a special treat to us. When we saw somebody headed up that old dusty dirt road, toward our house, we knew they had to be coming to see us. No one else lived for more than a mile or more in either direction...

In this wonderfully evocative article Mollie Mercer tells of friendlier times.

Folks haven’t always been the way they are today. We used to know our neighbors and even our neighbors’ kin.

Visitors were always a special treat to us. When we saw somebody headed up that old dusty dirt road, toward our house, we knew they had to be coming to see us. No one else lived for more than a mile or more in either direction.

Sometimes on Saturday just before the sun began to hang low, there would be kinfolk and neighbors coming down that road. Someone hollered out there is two wagonloads! The excitement brought us kids to jumping up and down with joy.

You could bet things were fixin’ to get lively. After all the handshaking, hugging, and ooh’s and ahhh’s about the latest babies that were always sooooo beautiful, Mama and the ladies would head out for the kitchen. We knew a feast would soon be served. Mama would go to the kitchen-safe, open up the cupboards, and then run out to the smokehouse for a ham or some fat-back. She’d get out the flour, a little sugar, some eggs fresh from the chicken house, some lard, and with that ever present ingenuity, she and all the ladies would pitch in and prepare a feast fit for a king or a preacher. The aroma of the fried chicken and gravy would flow through the open doors and windows and create appetite that was insatiable. This was a country gathering that made unforgettable memories.

After the meal, everyone would head for the front porch. Some of us children would be in the yard chasing “fireflies” and the others would be pushing and shoving over who was going to sit in the porch swing.

Then my Uncle Luke would break out an old “juice” harp or harmonica. That was the cue for Papa to go the old “chiff-robe” and un-wrap that old fiddle that had been handed down for years. Due to its age, it was more glue and cracks than wood, but the melodies rang out loud and clear. No one every noticed if it was a bit out of tune. The singing, toe tapping, and clapping of hands would go on for several hours.

Then “Papa” would say, “Children it’s time for bed now.'' And that was a clue for our visitors to go home. Papa would say, “Because tomorrow is Sunday and that’s the Lord’s Day, we will worship Him on tomorrow and thank Him for all our blessings.”

I do just that every day.

Mollie Mercer©


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