As people grow older, they tend to spend a lot of time reminiscing about those times way back when youth made just about everything seem perfect.
Many times we make ourselves believe that all of the hardships were great and happy adventures. It is a good way to pass the time, but it’s just not true.
Even though I spend a lot of time looking back, I believe today is the best time of all to live.
Still, I’m glad I can close or block out the present and move back in nostalgic reminiscing and recall so many little things that have stuck in my mind for so many years.
I remember the old water well in the back yard, on the farm, and how the chain with a bucket on each end ran up over a pulley. I would pull the chain, allowing one bucket to go down, while the other one came to the surface full of sparkling water for man and beast.
A large trough sat beside the well that had to be filled daily to satisfy the thirsts of farm animals. It was work bringing the water up, but I don’t remember the work part, just the taste of the cool water.
Sometimes we would put a jug of fresh buttermilk in the bucket and let it down to cool for dinner, because this was the only means of refrigeration available.
And I remember the family garden with the first new potatoes of summer, which were stolen from the mother vines before they had time to mature. I remember this chore as being called “grabbling potatoes.”
They were the best of the crop, not even requiring peeling. And with fresh small butterbeans cooked in real country butter, and beets, and large slices of tomato, these potatoes were too delicious to describe.
At very special times the center of the dinner table had a platter of crisply-fried side meat from the smokehouse, and a big bowl of steaming hot gravy.
I remember getting to sleep late on Saturday mornings, and getting up to the aroma of side meat or ham sizzling in the frying pan; and eggs fried in ham grease so deep in the pan that I wonder today what kept us all from succumbing to the awful curse of cholesterol, of which none of us had ever heard.
If I had known about cholesterol then, I probably would not have changed my diet at all.
I remember Saturday afternoons when I would climb up on the sharp back of the farm mule. I thought I was Buck Jones or Tom Mix, as that mule trotted around the barnyard.
The next day I was so sore from the ride that I vowed to never ride again. But my memory was short, and I always went back for more.
That old mule left me with many pleasant memories, and I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t even remember his name.
I remember the days of the kerosene lamp, when no family in the neighborhood had electricity, no matter how “well fixed” they were financially. It just wasn’t there to have.
It was my job to keep the lamp chimneys clean. This was done by balling up wads of newspaper, and running them around the chimney.
Realize that we remember mostly the good things from the past, and don’t want to go back and stay.
Just a trip back in memory is all I ask, and I’ll be happy in the present.
-Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.