A LONG WAY BACKWARDS Andy Hollifield 4-8-19
Sometimes, when I have too much time on my hands, I sit and think about how things used to be. In the pre cell phone and pre internet days, I remember going to grandma’s for Sunday dinner after church used to be a regular occurrence in my younger years. As a teen and in my early twenties, I remember going there sometimes just to see who all had come to her house. Quite often we would have so many that some of us would wind up passing the afternoon out on the porch swapping stories. I didn’t really think much about it at the time because that is just the way things were. Now, many of us only see each other once a year at a family reunion if then. I’m not exactly sure when or why it stopped but it is one of those things that always brings a smile when remembered.
I was raised, in my early years, on Upper Herron Cove Road in Weaverville. It was a dirt road back in the seventies and we all wished that the state would hurry up and pave it. Little did we know back then that dirt wasn’t the only thing that would be left behind, but also a way of life we had all known. When I was growing up we knew everyone on the road from the stop sign all the way to Elk Mountain Scenic Highway. I can still remember Wayne and Curt Hamilton coming down to Uncle Carl’s house where we lived and bringing two puppies. They gave them to me and Jim. I named mine Traveler and he was solid black and a thoroughbred mutt. Jim’s was named Ranger. He was a pretty little brown and white mutt. Back in those days, pets were loved and cared for but not worshipped. The thoughts of having a dog in the house was absolutely ridiculous in my early days. Getting my first dog was just one of the great memories of my childhood.
There were other firsts in my life that happened there in the cove. Stuff like playing in the old barn and jumping out of the hayloft. Making swings in the barn out of bailing rope because that was all we had. I can still remember laying down on the two by twelve board that we used as a bridge to cross the creek, with a stick in my hand putting it down into the water and catching a crawfish. I didn’t really catch him, he just latched onto the stick because I kept pestering him with it. I was so proud that I had caught something out of the creek. I am using the term creek pretty loosely. It wasn’t really much more than just a branch about two feet wide and even less in places and not much more than ankle-deep for the most part.
I also remember my Uncle Bud bringing me and Jim our first bicycle. It was a red Schwinn one speed. However fast you pedaled, that was your one speed. Gears on a bicycle was another one of those things that was kind of a ridiculous thought. At least it was to us back in the early seventies. I painfully think back to a day, shortly after Bud and Aunt Vicky took us to Ghost Town in Maggie Valley, putting on my green straw cowboy hat and cap pistol. Dad and Bud were standing in the driveway and I wanted to show them how fast I could ride my horse and shoot. I shot alright. While looking back to make sure they were watching, I should have been watching what I was doing. I shot right into the briar patch behind the old chicken coops. There was only one way in and one way out; through the briars. Once they figured out I wasn’t injured, they got a really good laugh out of it. I failed to see the humor in it at the time. I was to busy picking briars out of my hide to see anything funny about it.
One of my fondest memories of my childhood was riding the city bus to Asheville on Saturday mornings. I know I have written about most of this stuff before but when you just need something to help you ease your mind, there is nothing quite like a trip down memory lane. My Aunt Jeanie used to take me and Jim to town to see a Disney movie at the Plaza theatre. We always went into the pet store and played with the puppies and then to Mr Bill’s photo shop. A lot of times it was just to visit because he loved kids so much. I never knew how Aunt Jeanie knew him but he was a pleasant older fellow that was kind of what I imagined a grandpa was like. We would always eat at the Mediterranean Restaurant. I didn’t even know what the word Mediterranean meant back then. All I knew was that they had good cheeseburgers and fries. We would also go to Woolworth’s downtown and get a new Hotwheel car for I think about 69 cents and it may have been just a quarter. After that, we would walk to the theatre and watch either the eleven o’clock showing or the one o’clock showing of whatever Disney movie was new at the time. Then there was nothing left but either calling Gene at Bluebird Taxi or if it wasn’t too late, catching the afternoon bus back to Stoney Knob supermarket in Weaverville where we would call dad to come and get us.
Boy, it is funny some of the things that don’t really amount to much that wind up making precious memories that last a lifetime. Like most folks, I have a million of them. I am thankful I grew up in a time when the only electronics we had were the kitchen radio, always tuned to WWNC, dad’s stereo, and the black and white TV. It was a time when a boy could drive a truck at five years old or be a cowboy or fireman or anything else he wanted to be in his mind. It was a time when your imagination could take you anywhere you wanted to go and you could do anything you wanted to do. Sometimes, when I think back about those days, not only does it bring a smile, but it makes me wonder if we haven’t come a long way…backwards. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!