I am now 97 years old but I ask you to walk with me as boy of 12 in the year 1923 takes a nostalgic stroll through memory from his home on College and 12th to the Wagon Yard:...........................
Leaving the house with a stick in my hand I cross College St., and take the trail running slantwise across the vacant lot in front of our house to 11th St. Crossing the street I stroll down the sidewalk bordering 11th and grab a peach from one of the trees adjacent to the fence of David Hall’s house.
Crossing Church St. I drift down Eleventh eating my peach and swinging my stick at strikes thrown by imaginary pitchers. I pass the old Stacy house on my right and as I reach Gardner Broad’s home at the corner of Elm St. I turn left and approach the Rollie White house with anticipation, for now I get to use my stick for it’s intended purpose. As I reach the sidewalk bordering that house I break into a trot and with the stick in my left hand held tight against that iron picket fence I go popedy, popedy, pop all the way down the entire fence line.
Leaving the Rollie White house I slow down to a walk, take a right at 8th St. and go past the old Hill house on my right (where Margaret Fern Rhodes lives) and the Allen home on my left. Shooting a left on Pecan St. I go past Jim Bob Pool’s house on my left and passing the old Dr. Anderson residence I take a right again on 6th St. at Dr. Lindley’s home.
I walk to the next street, and before reaching the Jim Mann home I take a left and meander down that rocky old hill now known as Oak Street. Knocking rocks right and left with my swinging stick I pass the Willoughby place on my left and Mozell Baker’s home on my right. Now I find that my recall has dimmed as I come to houses whose occupants at that time have been long forgotten.
Nearing the bottom of the hill I pass the old Marion Deans home. Across 3rd St.and to my right is the Christian Church parsonage then comes the Christian Church with it’s high steeple and directly behind it is the Christian Church Tabernacle. To my left is the Henry Jordan home (Murray’s grandfather) while across 2nd St. and north is the Judge Newman house.
Still on the Oak Street hill I have now reached the southern boundry of the Wagon Yard which extended from 2nd Street north to 1st. Street. Then west down 1st and 2nd streets to Mesquite. With my 2007 vision I notice that across the south side there are small houses and sheds where horse stalls once stood. Oak trees now grown tall that were non-existant in my youth added to the nostalgic appearance of that old Wagon Yard in my minds eye.
I still see three of the oak trees that were huge 85 years ago, one near Oak and 2nd and another at the corner of 2nd and Mesquite. The third oak which stood at the north end of that old corrugated iron barn and grocery store of yesteryear still stands to cast it’s comforting shade and unwelcome dead leaves upon present and future occupants below.
The mind pictures of that old Yard and the events occurring there have been buried in my memory these 85 years. Thanks, however, to the heavenly designer of the human brain, selected portions of those events can be recalled and enjoyed in an instant.
With my 1923 vision I stand on the back porch of that old grocery store and look across to that other old corrugated iron building. It is missing the proverbial chestnut tree but is occupied by our own village smithy with those “strong and sinewy hands”.
Now my eyes glaze and with the return of current vision I see that the very old and dilapidated corrugated iron building which in it’s youth housed the Willbanks Blacksmith Shop has been torn down.
Again as I stand there more illusions of the 1920’s appear. I look north to the old Dutton Cotton Yard where so many hours of childhood play were spent and I see row upon row of bales of cotton with myself together with my old friend Shagnasty and other friends running and jumping on those bales. Then my eyes blink and again I see with present vision and find that those treasured memories have been replaced with a housing development.
Thus it is that with the VCR capability of our brain (which is a gift of the gods especially to the aged) we are allowed to re-wind and fast-forward through our past thereby letting ourselves enjoy events that we have a longing to see again. It is these two features of the mind that provide us with a means for those many returns down the memory lanes of our own choosing and the recall of a multitude of nostalgic moments from bygone days.
With these tools of the mind available to me as I stood there reminiscing, the houses now filling the 2007 space once occupied by that old Wagon Yard suddenly vanished and in a mind’s instant were replaced by more images of the past. In this vision I saw before me the activities of a Wagon Yard on a 1918 morning:
I saw the long wagon shed jammed with wagons filled with cotton; people gathered around campfires in the open lot drinking coffee; some preparing breakfast of bacon and eggs while others were hitching teams to their wagons in preparation for the short drive to the cotton gin just around the corner; and still others finding their early morning relief in the old two-holer on the east side of the yard. I saw our old hens hastening to get into the feed boxes of the horse stalls recently vacated in order to deposit their daily offerings for me to gather before the day was over. I heard Mama in the kitchen of our living quarters adjacent to that feed barn and smelled the heavenly aroma of that home cured ham cooking on that old wood cook stove. Then, as so often happens to dreams we want to continue, my mind awakened with a groan brought on by the instant aging of 85 years and my return to the present age of 2008.
At the end of that walk through memory I sit at home, just six blocks up l2th Street from that old house on College, surrounded by those recollections of the past. Thankful that I have been allowed to review some of the contents stored in that old log book of my mind I submit the following quotation:
“Recollection is the only paradise out of which we cannot be driven.”(Anon)