5 great family-tree photos from Mom's old homeplace
There were no video arcades, no nearby fun parks and no cable television to keep a kid occupied at Granny and Papaw's. But you had three small ponds full of fish, a natural spring and about 60 acres of fields, woods and cliffs to explore.
The farm where my mother grew up in a three-generation household is no longer in the family, but it remains my favorite place in the world. I loved eating the little green apples Granny picked in the front yard, fishing a pond with Papaw or climbing the tree with my cousins until our shoes wore the bark slick. Actually, I think what I really mean is that I liked those activities but hold the farm dear because of my Granny, my Papaw and my cousins.
Here are five old photos from my family-tree collection that remind me of wonderful childhood times spent there.
5. Mom and Dad's big day
I literally was not there for this photo. It was taken on the day my Mom and Dad got married, about four years before I was born. The ceremony took place in the front room of the farmhouse. In fact, I think all of my mom's siblings, except possibly Uncle Jack, were married there. This is my mom's sister, Ina, and her cousin and maid of honor Diane Trent, with their hair in rollers as they ice the wedding cake in the little dining room that was added to the back of the house on what must have been a stifling July day. Mom and Dad will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year.
4. Speaking of anniversaries ...
It's a little blurry, but the memory of this weekend on the farm is clear to me. It was taken at the party we had for Granny and Papaw's 35th anniversary. They both loved to fish and picnic, so a cooler was a perfect gift for both of them. That's my sister, Jennifer, helping Papaw read the card, and my cousins, Kevin Harper and Lori Brooks, on the scrambling from the hammock so Granny can get a closer look at her gift. I particularly like this photo for a small detail — Papaw's hat. He always wore his fishing hats with the crown slightly depressed, which you can make out in this shot.
3. Whooooooo .... too sweet to be sour!
My Uncle Kenny Wilson does his best Ric Flair imitation, slapping Kevin in a figure-four leglock. No knees were shredded in the making of this photo.
2. Bobby Flay has nothing on these fellas
My dad raises a toast as my uncles Kenny and Jack Brooks tend the grill. This seemed quite exotic to me — Kenny and Jack poured beer on the hamburgers. And you can tell it was a special occasion — the beer is in a bottle, not a can.
1. Meet the inlaws
Man, there is a lot going on in this photo, some of it quite disturbing. Taken at the same gathering as the previous shot, these are the Wilson in-laws (at the time, anyway; a few have been de-listed by divorce). From left, Bobbie Sue Hillman Brooks, Elden Glenmore Kidd, Ernestine Wilson Wilson (relax; Aunt Ernie is from a different line of Wilsons) and Glen Allen Harper. Somehow, my Uncle Leroy Caudill escaped this image, for which I'm sure he is eternally grateful.
In all seriousness, when I was a young'un, I never much distinguished my aunts and uncles by blood from my aunts and uncles by marriage. I'm sure that had a lot to do with the way my grandparents welcomed everyone to the farm and to the family — one more reason to love the place where Mom grew up.