The Hendersonville Standard Blog
The Hendersonville Standard Blog
It’s not officially Summer yet but a few days of highs in the 90s, no blinking lights in the school zones and having to bust open the piggy bank for graduation presents lets me know another Tennessee summer is heading our way.
By my unofficial barometer of society, also known as Facebook, it seems like many families immediately head to the beach as soon as school is out. Some take several trips a year to the Gulf Shores, Hilton Head and other exotic places I didn’t even dream of as a kid.
Our family trips were reserved for visiting family so we would regularly load up and head to the metropolis of Myrtle, Mo., population: too few to count, to visit my mother’s parents and family.
Great-great granddad Newman ended up in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in the south-central Missouri hamlet of Mrtyle after losing his portion of the family fortune in an ill-advised investment in a supposed gold mine in California in the mid 1800s. He had hitched a ride via the Swedish Merchant Marines to the West Coast of the new country, looking for a new life. At least that’s how my Uncle Gaither always told the story.
I’m not really sure Sweden ever had a Merchant Marine outfit and you can’t prove by me that any part of our family ever had wealth. The rest of the story is that the family’s last name was Dean but after he disgraced the family by squandering away his money, he took his mother’s maiden name, which happened to fit a ‘new man’ perfectly. I know with certainty, however, that he settled in Myrtle and the next three generations of Newmans were raised there, living off the land and what God provided from the Eleven Point River.
The trip to Missouri itself was an adventure to me. Riding through towns I had heard of including Paducah, Ky. when I was real small, and later, Jonesboro, Ark. , after the interstate was built and it was quicker to go through Memphis. Many family stories center around things that happened on the trips including which road to take once we got to Memphis, or passing the road and ending up lost in the downtown area. It happened more than once. The best part of the trip, however, was Mom’s homemade pimento cheese sandwiches. We would make one stop on the trip to get gas and a cold drink and after that, pimento cheese time. For some reason, they seemed to taste much better in the back seat of my folks’ car.
Visiting my mother’s parents was great experience for a suburban kid like me. I helped Grandma Wavie feed the chickens and work in the garden. I’d play in the smokehouse looking for neat cans and bottles. Once, Granddad Elmer let me and my older brother waste a box of ammo shooting his 22 caliber rifle. It was all fun because it was the kind of stuff that didn’t happen to a little kid in Madison, Tenn.
The best part was going fishing in Grandad’s makeshift boat; two car hoods welded together, flat edge to flat edge, supported by floats on each side made from well-shafts; no lie. I had never seen anything like and I haven’t seen anything like it since. I thought it was neat that my grandparents both went fishing every day. On one summer trip with just my Mom and I there, we had a week long fishing contest. I was excited to come in second place behind my grandma who was apparently the best fisherman in the family. It wasn’t until years later that I realized fishing wasn’t sport to my grandparents, its how they had fed themselves and their family for years. If it came out of the river, Grandma would cook it up, even eel.
Because of those visits, I can lay claim to having firsthand knowledge of how unpleasant it is to use an outhouse in the winter time, or in the summertime for that matter, and why there was a pot sitting underneath every bed in the house. I thought it was kind of fun to draw water from a well and haul in logs to be burned in the wood burning stove. My uncle Del didn’t see the fun in getting water from a well. He used to tell me that he thought his name was “Del Get-Water” until he was 12 years old.
I’m not sure we will take a road trip this year, my desire to stay home is beginning to outweigh my desire to hit the road. But if we do, you can be sure of one thing; there will be a good supply of homemade pimento chesses sandwiches in the cooler.
See you next week.