I think it’s good to reach back into the memory bank and pull up names and events of years gone by.
So many things about the past are etched so indelibly in my mind, and that is probably the reason why, when I first started writing this column more than 25 years ago, we decided to call it “Looking Back.”
For the most part, the majority of my columns have followed that same theme.
Over the years I have covered many subjects, some that required extensive research, while others were childhood memories that only required a pen and paper, and a turning back of the calendar.
Sometimes it is hard to come up with a subject, and at other times subjects just pop up, like when I noticed on an out-of-date newspaper on my table with a story entitled “Make me a child again on Saturday.”
My thoughts quickly went back more than 70 years when I was in high school and lived on a tobacco farm in Eastern Virginia. This was a time when Saturdays were so special that the days that fell between one Saturday and another passed liked months.
As soon as my eyes opened on those wonderful mornings, I could tell without looking that it was Saturday. It just felt different.
The sun seemed to shine a little brighter, or if it was a rainy day, the drops seemed to beat a more peaceful tune as it spattered against the bedroom window, or on the tin roof.
In those days no television cartoons waited to entertain; no, not even a television set. That was for the future, but the day that lay ahead was always filled with more excitement than any modern machine could possibly bring.
To start with, the aroma and sound of side meat frying and sizzling on the kitchen stove was enough to draw any youngster out of bed. And by the time I was up and dressed the table was set and family members gathered around to begin the day with food and fellowship.
The old homemade wooden bench was my favorite seat.
Sometimes there was barely enough food to go around in those Depression days, but for whatever food graced the table, my father never failed to have a blessing.
When I think back on it, I have concluded that no breakfast I have had since could have tasted any better than that fried side meat with hot buttered biscuits and milk gravy.
Milking the cow and feeding the hogs and chickens came a little easier on Saturday, because this was the day when the mule was hitched to the old farm wagon for a three-mile ride into South Hill to purchase supplies for another week.
Any family member was free to pile on, and it was a trip I hardly ever missed. There was no rush to get there and none to get back.
The little farming town was small, but on Saturday, I believe about everyone in the entire county was there. Some came to shop, but I believe most of them came just to be with the crowd.
Saturday was grocery-buying day, and every customer was waited on by a clerk, who would take our order, then run all over the store fetching one item at a time.
When he was through, he would grab a large paper bag and a pencil and list the price of each item, and add the figures in his head.
Those were the days, friends. Good old Saturdays.
Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.