Thursday, July 28, 2011
Recalling Pop’s place
I hope to make a trip to Alabama this week. And maybe I will ride by what I still call “Pop’s place.”
We sold my Grandfather Burleson’s property in the country between Hamilton, Ala., and Haleyville, Ala., 17 years ago. I wrote a column back in 1994, just prior to the sale, while working at another newspaper. Here’s a portion of it.
We waded in the creek July 4. This is not just any creek. It’s the creek that runs behind my Grandfather Burleson’s house.
My sisters and I shed our socks and shoes and got our feet wet in the cool water. Quickly we recalled how slippery the rocks are along the bottom.
We shared some one-of-a-kind laughs. We share precious memories, too.
Vickie looked up the bank beside the creek and recalled riding “truck wagons” down the steep incline.
We talked about fishing upstream and doing some swimming, too, in the deeper parts.
Gayla, very fair complected, remembered her attempts at getting a suntan as the rays bounced off the water.
We also combed the two-bedroom, white-shingled house. There was one of Pop’s hats, the ring of sweat still surrounding the brim. He was a hard worker and most of all, a good man.
As I held that hat I recalled the later years of Pop’s life when Mom was gone and he moved in with us.
Pop died July 7, 1969, when I was 7. He was my hero. I tagged along beside him. What I wanted, he did all in his power to deliver.
There was the old dirty clothes hamper with a big “B” initialed in the top.
There were still some of Pop’s and Mom’s clothes in the antique chifforobe.
There were old papers – some insurance-related and some documents from the Marion County, Ala., Courthouse.
There were several old quilts, no doubt made by Mom and her talented hands. I hardly knew her. She died when I was 3. I’ve been told about her love and kindness.
There was a meal and flour bin in the kitchen and a classic sink.
Out front we stood under the huge shade tree. That tree has been huge for as long as I can remember. I always dreamed of climbing it but never was big enough, it seemed. Pop and I did some relaxing and talking under that magnificent tree. I always listened to what he had to say.
On that day, the lower limbs were almost touching the ground. It needed trimming but I wouldn’t want to be the one. I just couldn’t cut the limbs off Pop’s shade tree.
The family would gather and we’ve had many a good meal under that tree. We’ve had some reunions since Pop died but none in a while.
We walked out to the old barn. I climbed up into the loft, the same one I pushed Gayla out of one time.
She didn’t laugh about it then. July 4 we joked about the mean streak in her “little brother.”
There were a couple of Pop’s old cars still on the property – rusty and wrapped in weeds and limbs. There was an old planter in one shed that had caved in.
There was an old baby bed in another decaying building. All three of us likely spent some time sleeping in it as Mom watched over us.
I told my wife Pam a few weeks ago I wish we would have bought Pop’s old home place. It’s something I will always regret.
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