The Priceless Memories Shared by a Share Cropper's son

Two vintage memories: An empty barn and rusty Cadillac

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Share cropping memories

Run down barn in Statesville, N.C.
Run down barn in Statesville, N.C. | Source
Woman stands in front of her antiquated barn
Woman stands in front of her antiquated barn | Source
A great breakfast memory
A great breakfast memory | Source
Mother teaches daughter the things she needs to know about being a share croppers wife
Mother teaches daughter the things she needs to know about being a share croppers wife | Source
And old barn and shed lean with age. Such as sights today of the days of a share cropper
And old barn and shed lean with age. Such as sights today of the days of a share cropper | Source
Some farmers teach their sons how to operate a tractor
Some farmers teach their sons how to operate a tractor | Source
This reminds me of my dad when he was plowing the fields on the farm where he share cropped
This reminds me of my dad when he was plowing the fields on the farm where he share cropped | Source
The mule and wagon were "the" mode of transportation for most of the share croppers in my day
The mule and wagon were "the" mode of transportation for most of the share croppers in my day | Source
Newly-plowed fields--ready to be planted with new seed for a new crop
Newly-plowed fields--ready to be planted with new seed for a new crop | Source
One of the residents of any barn on any farm.
One of the residents of any barn on any farm. | Source
The aroma of bacon sizzling in an iron skillet: One of the many priceless memories I have as a share cropper's son.
The aroma of bacon sizzling in an iron skillet: One of the many priceless memories I have as a share cropper's son. | Source

"Daddy, I hope that you like this story."

WRITER’S NOTE: This is affectionately-dedicated to one of my new followers, lrc7815, who has two delightful pieces about “Old Barns,” and the tales they could tell. I read her material and loved it. Afterwards, I got to thinking that maybe lrc7815 wouldn’t mind if I wrote a hub (not as copying this talented writer), but in a way, to honor her in this hub and how her stories about old barns touched my life. Sincerely, Kenneth)

I came from a share-cropper’s background. I suppose as sophisticated and elite as we are in 2014, I should apologize to my followers, and “sweep memories of those days underneath the rug.” But I won’t.

My late father, Austin Avery, Hamilton, Al., kept clothes on my back, shoes on my little feet and food on our table due to being one of the best share-croppers in our area of the county from the years 1960 until 1966. He left this job (that he loved) to work in a machine shop. Throughout all of his working years until he passed away in 2006, I believe that he was re-living those cherished days of share-cropping in his fixed-stare he kept on his face.

I could barely look at him. I tried hard to see “the man,” he once was only a few years ago before he became ill. And succeeded a few times, but not enough to make the cold sadness go away. I guess I will bear this until it is my time to go.

My new friend, lrc7815 and her stories about old barns, caused a segment of precious memories to surface in my spirit. Memories that I had almost-forgotten. Thank God and lrc7815 for rekindling my farming days and the memories they gave me.

Now let me explain my style of writing this hub. I am not going to go into deep-details about each memory, just number it and let the memory do the touching you and your hearts—even if you were raised in the city or on the most-rural farm in your section of the United States.


  1. Laying on soft, new mown hay in the barn loft listening to a summer rain gently caress the tin roof.

  2. Waking-up to the smell of a fall morning. The sound of bacon frying in an iron skillet on a wood stove. And the distinguishable-aroma of fresh coffee boiling in an enamel pot.

  3. Feeling chills run up your back when your little feet hit the linoleum floor.

  4. Hearing the laughter, verbal jabbing, and daddy’s confident voice as he told mother his plans for “that” day. And mother in her supportive-toned voice telling him, “That’s a good idea, Austin, but you be careful on that tractor—I want you to come back to me.”

  5. Bursting clods of fresh dirt that the disk on the Ford tractor broke into and letting my feet feel the fresh, life-giving sensation of “Mother Earth,” at my tiny feet.

  6. Chasing a frisky puppy who only wanted to play and if I did be late to help daddy, he wouldn’t be angry for he loved “Frank” like I did.

  7. Drops of sweat slowly running down my face and neck as the coolness of the morning had burned away while I whined to my daddy, “Is it dinner time yet?” This was before I could tell time. Actually it was only 9 a.m.

  8. Smelling the fuel as the Ford tractor made passes by me at the edge of the new cornfield that daddy’s boss, Mrs.Verda Dobbs, wanted him to prepare for another few acres of corn. Mrs. Dobbs was a good woman and very devoted to Jesus and the Holiness Church. I was too young to understand what Holiness or Jesus meant. My only memory of her is that she laughed a lot.

  9. Detecting the aroma of cornbread, peas, and squash cooking in mother’s kitchen for us “men,” to have for dinner. (that term became “lunch” in latter years. I still call it dinner).

  10. Hearing each sound of the activity at the dining table. Bowls clinging and clanging as they were passed to whomever wanted the delicious peas or squash that were in them.

  11. The first taste of mother’s iced tea and how good it felt rolling down my parched throat.

  12. The way my daddy chewed his food a set number of times. I think he learned that (and many other manly things in the Army).

  13. The times he would look up from his plate and wink at me. That was his way of personally reassuring me that “things” would be fine.

  14. Soaking-in the slight aroma of the perfume that mother had worn for that day. Mother might have been our cook, cleaning lady, teacher, but she was all woman. Now that I am writing this, I wish now I had told her she was all woman a lot back when I had the chance.

  15. The smell of “Frank” and my new dog, “Button,” when they had chased a pesky rabbit through the woods that ran below our house. The dogs didn’t notice that a heavy rain was falling.

  16. Enjoying the look of excitement at my daddy as he climbed back on the Ford tractor to fire it up for more plowing that afternoon—and I was to go along with him. I still wonder what my job was out there far away from home with only “Frank” and “Button” to keep me company, but these two canines were great bodyguards and dogs I could talk to.

  17. Feeling clouds take away the sunshine as they hid the sun for a little while. I would always think that rain was coming and try my best to find a good place to stay as so I wouldn’t get wet.

  18. Allowing the hours from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. to slowly roll over my back as molasses slowly roll over a stack of pancakes. At five, I had as much patience as I do at 60. None.

  19. Hearing daddy at day’s end say, “Son, let’s head home,” and I got to ride along side of him on the tractor. I smelled the sweat on his shirt and dirt on his hands. Two good signs that he was a good father. He didn’t mind sweating or getting his hands dirty.

  20. Sneaking away from mother and daddy when work was idle, and play inside the barn. I loved to climb on the wooden ladder on the wall and jump from the loft onto a big, soft pile of hay. The air coursing through my hair, pores, and nose as I made my decent.

  21. I was even comfortable in the barn at dusky dark. Mother and daddy loved to sit on the front porch after supper and have coffee and talk about the day’s victories and defeats and how they together would handle it. And they did a great job of handling life’s obsctacles.

  22. Watching “Frank” and “Button” sleep peacefully on the front porch. It was like they inhaled and exhaled in perfect rhythm. I miss those guys even today.

  23. The taste of fresh water drawn from a well in the front yard. When I was seven, I was “man enough” to draw water. If you, my followers, have kinfolks who still live in the farming country, ask them what “drawing” water means.

  24. The taste of a freshly-picked peach or red apple. There is nothing on earth to compare this faded farm moments to, besides tasting a freshly-cut yellow meat watermelon straight from the field that my dad plowed and planted them many weeks ago.

  25. Hearing my feet crunch against the ice and snow on the ground as my daddy and I took to the woods to cut firewood. The touch of the cross-cut saw on my tender hands—how cold and lifeless it was. And how my dad, with a determined look, fell one hickory, red oak, and white oak tree after the other. We never were cold in the antiquated house we lived in.

  26. The aroma of the fire burning in the big fireplace on a crisp fall and winter night.

  27. The way the flames in the fireplace caused several mysterious shadows to appear on the walls of our living room. At the age of five, they scared me, so my mother explained in her own way, “Those aren’t real—they are just shadows and won’t hurt you, Kenny.”

  28. Playing in our huge front and back yard—running as fast as the wind and falling asleep in my bed at 8 p.m. because (at this time) we didn’t own a television, and I am thankful for that.

  29. Sleeping with our windows open because we did not have an air conditioner and enjoying the vast selection of night sounds.

  30. Learning how to pick cotton with my mother who was also a pretty good mentor.

  31. The aroma of the cotton that (we had picked) that had been dumped into the truck at the end of the field—I confess, many times I would sneak away to catch a nap in the big pile of cotton.

  32. The walk home from the cotton fields in the colorful summer evening with the sun slowly going down casting beautiful orange and red colors on the sk

  33. The thrill of building a “gnat smoke,” in the front yard and dancing around it as it burned—keeping us safe from the annoying gnats.

  34. The excitement of Christmas morning. It was simple, yet the highlight of the year for me. I never received tons of toys, but I sure appreciated the one or two that Santa brought me. Oh, I loved how my mother decorated the real cedar Christmas tree that my daddy chose and cut. With my sister married and out on her own with her own family, it was just us three—daddy, mother, and me. But what a warm and priceless memory to have.

    These are but 34 precious memories that I carry with me each day. As I wrote this, it dawned on me that maybe I should sit down ever so many days and just look back at my share-cropping childhood and give God thanks for letting me have such a great life.

A woman and her storage shed

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22 comments

moonlake profile image

moonlake 2 years ago from America

Enjoyed your hub very much. I know what drawing water is and picked cotton in the cotton field. My grandparents were share croppers. Voted up and shared.


WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 2 years ago

This is beautiful and I loved reading about your experiences. I'm originally from NYC, so I didn't know a lot of share croppers and it's probably not something I heard of until social studies (and probably something I thought didn't exist anymore for a long time, not having ventured further west than New Jersey for most of my life). It was a pleasure hearing about another way of life and you write beautifully.


Marty Adams profile image

Marty Adams 2 years ago from Greenville, Pennsylvania

Loved your Hub. Brought back a lot of memories of Grandpa's farm and Grandma's garden.


PurvisBobbi44 profile image

PurvisBobbi44 2 years ago from Florida

Hi Kenneth,

What a wonderful journey your hub has taken me on---as you shared the smells, tastes, feels, looks of love, joys of daily life, your sweet puppy, and the dear faces of your parents. I could almost feel I was standing with you in a field of newly ploughed dirt and feel the coolness where it was overturned and the odor that one cannot forget.

My Grandfather Knight was a farmer so I can relate to some of this—and mostly the joys of being a country girl. When granddaddy ploughed I would run behind his tractor to see if I could rescue any bunny rabbits, and sometimes I did.

As always you have written a wonderful hub, which has brightened my day.

Bobbi Purvis


Kenneth Avery 2 years ago

Dearest Bobbi,

Oh, how sweet you are to leave such a touching comment. I went back a long way and deep into my memory wells. I too, was reliving all of these memories as they left my fingers on my keyboard.

I can truly see you running behind the tractor and rescuing bunnies. You are a sweet girl, Bobbi. This trait you have proves that.

Thank you for the lovely comment. I wish you a safe and happy day. And pray that something really good happens to you today.

Your Friend for Life,

Kenneth


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

Ken, this brought back a lot of memories of my grandparents farm, also in Alabama. There were me my two brothers and three cousins.

One memory you brought to mind that you did not list. Pressing your face against the neck of the milk cow and the smells in the barn.

and mentioned picking cotton and the memory came back of riding in the wagon on the way to the gin.

And feeling the clouds, I got that! The waves of shade, I could almost draw that.

Or eating tomatoes right off the vine, hot from the sun.

Walking through my grandmother's flower beds that had flowers higher than me and my grandmother.

Thank you ken.

Blessings

Shyron

This is a wonderful awakening to yesterdays memories.


sheilamyers 2 years ago

Thanks for sharing your memories. I grew up in a small town, but some of things you mention are familiar. To mention one, I grew up to too far from the railyards, so every time I hear a train, I remember playing in the back yard as Mom hung out the laundry on the clotheslines.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida

What wonderful memories, Kenneth! My mother grew up in Missouri. She said school would let out for two weeks in May so the kids could help pick cotton. What a grueling task that must have been!

Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your childhood. I know Linda (lrc7815). She's a wonderful writer. I miss reading her hubs.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, moonlake,

Good for you. I am glad that I am not the only one who knows about drawing water and picking cotton.

I appreciate you and your comment. Come back anytime.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hello, Wiccan Sage,

Thanks for your kind words. And I was glad to help introduce you to a way of life that has (to me) more hidden treasures that where I am now: in the city, traffic, noise, gunfire. Things that were not prevalent to my life on the farm.

But I appreciate making a new friend.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, Marty,

Thanks for the warm comment. So glad that you got something out of this hub. That makes it worth it to me.

You have a peaceful day or night and visit with me again.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hello, Shyron,

Glad to meet you. I am so thankful that you were blessed with something in this piece. That also makes me want to keep writing.

I am going to check out your hubs along with those of Marty and Wiccan.

Visit with me again.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Sheila,

Oh yes, the trains. Now we didn't, and still don't have trains in Hamilton, but in this stage of my life when any of us got sick we had to go to another small town about thirty-minutes away called Haleyville that did have trains running sometimes day and in the night.

I fell in love with trains with the first one I heard and saw. Still love them today.

And as for the clothesline, my mother used one religiously.

Thank YOU for your insight to this stage of my life.

Love, K.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Memories are golden and from the heart takes you back and brings more joy to life.


joanveronica profile image

joanveronica 2 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

A really beautiful Hub, I'm so glad I read it! Enjoyed every line and paragraph, so voted up and away all over. This will also go to my page on G+ I'm off to put it there now!


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 2 years ago from london

All things have their beauty and charm for us at different times. It's great that you hold on to those beautiful memories.

I went home to the Caribbean two years ago, and I really kept thinking about the lands I used to visit with my grandfather.

Too bad, my mom passed and I was so busy with the funeral!

Why did your dad leave to work in a machine shop? Financial, perhaps? Thanks for your great Hub.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, manatita,

Thanks for your lovely, inspirational comment. I needed it. And appreciate it.

I think it was financial. The "share" of his work from the lady owner was not enough, but honestly, my dad or mom never told me of the real reason why.

But I was the only one at home. My sister had married and was living away from us, so I would think that my upkeep wasn't that high. I didn't eat much and took care of my clothes.

Thanks for asking.

Have a great week and hey, if you aren't one of my followers, I invite you to check out another hub of mine and come on over.

I would love to have you.

Kenneth


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 2 years ago from london

Much gratitude here and I really appreciate the invitation.

I come from a village and my upkeep wasn't great either. Still, I ate as much as I needed.

Drifting away from this I really remember the fun times and the joy of boys. The sweet simplicity of life; the camaraderie, was more important to me.

We seem to have lost this now. I'm sure you will agree.

Thanks for sharing, Kenneth. My body is weak right now, but I will visit you again. Shalom!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

manatita,

You are a sincere new friend. I can relate to your childhood and I had joys of boys, b ut when you are alone, no other siblings to play with, you make your own fun with imaginary people, characters, and pets.

You are welcome for the story.

My pleasure.

I wish you strength and peace.

Kenneth


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

Although I was not a share cropper's daughter, I can relate to many of your experiences of family and life growing up. I enjoyed your article and only wish everyone had such a strong background to build upon.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, dear teaches12345,

It is so nice to hear from you again. And I sincerely thank you for this comment. That alone, blesses me.

I hope you are blessed with a safe and happy week.

Kenneth


tea lady 2 profile image

tea lady 2 2 years ago from Midwest, USA

I have so many similar memories! I loved running barefoot through fresh plowed fields, drawing water from the well to make tea on the wood burning stove, and drinking my tea in front of the fireplace sitting in a rocking chair. I remember sitting in the storm cellar waiting for a storm to pass, passing the time "carding" cotton. And passing the heat of the day laying in the porch swing drinking sweatea. Thanks for reminding me. Love this page!

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