I Want to go Back

Posted by | February 2, 2015

“I would like to go back and carry a few lap-links in my pocket, just in case the hoss busts a trace chain. I want to tie the rawhide ham-string once more and adjust the back-band til it is just behind the hoss’s withers. I want to tie my shoes again with laces made of groundhog hide.

“I want to go back where the ducks and geese are picked every month; where corn and taters are planted, and soap is made by the signs of the moon; where “warnits” and hickory nuts are gathered in the fall for the winter mast; where the folks still dig roots and herbs to buy their winter boots and shoes; and where these same boots and shoes are greased with sheep or beef taller; where the peggin’ awl is still in use; where Arbuckles coffee is parched in the stove and ground in a mill held in grandpa’s lap; where some of the menfolk tied the brooms with home-grown broomcorn; where they make popguns out of elders and shoot paper wads in them.

Arbuckles Ariosa coffee“Yes, I want to go back where they drink sassafras tea in the spring-time to thin their blood;

where they churn with the old up and down churn-dasher; where they turn the churn of cream around as it sits by the fireplace in the big house, so it will get in the right form for churning; where goose quill toothpicks are still in use; where they still boil the clothes and use bluin'; where they refill the straw ticks right after thrashin’ time and where they wear long flannel drawers.

“Yes, I want to go back to the country and get my fill of cracklin’ bread. I want to see the people eat again and shovel it in with their knives. I want to go to the neighbors to borrow the gimlet. I want to go back where they eat three meals a day…breakfast, dinner and supper…and the word “lunch” will never be heard again.

“Yes, I want to go back and make another corn-shucker out of locust. I want to strip some cane and top it and dip the skimmin’s offen’ the bilin’ molasses. I want to go to the neighbors for a bushel of seed corn, or shell a ‘turn’ of corn and take it to the mill for bread and watch as the miller measured out his toll for the grinding. I’d like to call a few doodlebugs outen’ their holes, but I want to avoid the spanish needles, the cuckleburrs, and the chiggers that make life unbearable, and to avoid stone bruises forever.

“I doubt if I could measure up to the hardy souls that were my forefathers. They lived by their strength, by the work of their hands and the sweat of their brow, by the faith they had in themselves. Theirs was a hard life, but it was honest. It was all they knew and they were happy in their way of life and helped themselves by helping others.

“I feel sad that they children of today’s modern society are cheated by missing the things that in those days made families realize they had to work together to live, and in doing so, were kept in a mutual band of friendship.

“It doesn’t seem possible in a span of 50 or more years that life has gone from ways of simplicity to what some of us consider utter confusion. People can’t or won’t take time to enjoy the natural things.

Antlion larvae, or doodlebugsAntlion larvae, or doodlebugs

“We’re living too fast. Modern society has filled us with tension, and unrest. Respect for the things we once held dear and made life worth while a few years ago are gone.

“And as our beloved forefathers rest and meditate in their eternal dreams, on the gentle slopes where once they erected their humble homes. We recall and reminisce about the ways and traditions of the past, realizing with a tear of sadness that we can’t go back or live any of those happy times again.”


source: Too Late For Flowers; Never Too Late For Tears, by Roy L. Sturgill, ‘Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia,’ published by the Historical Society of Southwest Virginia, Publication 12, 1978


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