Revisiting Uncle Sam’s Farm

Regular readers will remember the celebration of my late Uncle Sam’s life.

On the occasion of the one-year anniversary of his passing I took the weekend to go and visit my cousins, who are more like a brother and four sisters to me.

My grandparents' home on the left, Uncle Sam and Aunt Polly's home on the right.

My grandparents' home on the left, Uncle Sam and Aunt Polly's home on the right.

In the intervening year the farm has changed hands and now belongs to a non-resident who plans to use it for hunting. The middle of Mississippi is blessed with large herds of wild deer, and thus attracts hunters from a multi-state area.

This was my first trip back to the farm since Uncle Sam’s passing. With no one around I was able to just visit at my leisure and let the memories flow. My aunt and uncle’s house and my grandparents’ house were locked, but the grounds were accessible and I was free to wander around.

So many memories.

So many memories.

Everything looked just the same upon my arrival, and Uncle Sam could have greeted me at the door, if I hadn’t known better. There was the handicapped-person ramp my cousin Fred built, the handrail I put on the front steps when my Aunt Polly was still alive, and the old TV antenna I’d moved from my grandparents’ house years ago.

 

 

 

These cypress steps were a great place to hang out, whether you were a cat,dog, chicken or human.

These cypress steps were a great place to hang out, whether you were a cat,dog, chicken or human.

Around back, the steps I’d made of cypress were still there. Uncle Sam complained because I made them so wide, but the boards were already that length, and the cutoffs would have been too short to be useful. So, I told my uncle, “I made them that way so you would have plenty of room to put on your boots.”

“Well, alright,” was his gruff reply. Many, many times thereafter I saw him enjoy the space as he laced up his footwear.

Uncle Sam wanted new doors for the "smokehouse," but he didn't want me using so many screws.

Uncle Sam wanted new doors for the "smokehouse," but he didn't want me using so many screws.

Turning around I could see the old “smokehouse.” As a child, I was always perplexed about why we called it a smokehouse. We never smoked anything in there. In fact, as an adult I’m still not sure, but it was in the position one would normally place a smokehouse.

On your right was where the washing machine, dryer and deep freeze resided. It was always dark in there and I lived in fear that a snake would get me if I lingered.

On your left is the door to the world prize. There were tools, chain saws (including Mr. Homelite’s original working model, I think) and shears for cutting shaggy hair from new horses’ manes. There were buckets and buckets of old screws and nails, every one of which required straightening before use. I often heard Uncle Sam say, “I ain’t for wastin’, James.”

I just thought the other side of the smokehouse was scary. At least it had a light! This side was dark and the shelves were deep. The reptilian hiding places were many. Still, it was worth it to come in and plunder, because the prizes were so great.

Ahh, the barn,

Too many memories to tell about the barn today.

Too many memories to tell about the barn today.

a subject for another day, as its memories are too manifold for this already-full space.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

4 comments

  1. Susan Lantzer says:

    Cousin Jim, what a nice tribute to dear Grandpa Sam. There was a lot of love around that place for so many of us. So many memories, so many special places on the land. I have some pictures I’ve been needing to upload, one in particular of your “world prize” room – it’s the last set of photos I was able to take before the land passed hands, so surely everything was so much more organized and less dusty, so many things worn yet polished smooth by many many years of Grandpa’s strong steady hands.
    Love you,
    Susan

    • Love, indeed, ruled on the Burrell dairy farm. Thanks for your note, Susie. We miss you living so far away. I had a nice but short visit with your Mom and Dad on this trip. Your mother and I went down memory lane as we looked through Uncle Charles’ Army trunk and through two suitcases with Ma, Pa and Aunt Dena and Aunt Mary’s old clothing. There were some interesting pieces in there that would raise eyebrows on Antiques Roadshow. Love you, too, Jim.

  2. Nell says:

    I so enjoyed your visit this weekend in memory of Daddy’s passing one year ago, January 21, 2010. We sat for hours reminiscing all the way back to when we were 4-5 or our earliest memories of the family and farm. Thank you for writing and sharing your memories with eveyone. The Barn…Now I can give you some stories of cold wet frozen cow tails that hit you on the head when you try to put milkers on a cow in January. Or how they kick when horse flies bite while you are washing their udders.

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