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Not Just Another Board

Updated on August 5, 2015

Old Style Air Cured Tobacco Barn

A barn very similar to the one I remember.
A barn very similar to the one I remember. | Source

This Old Slat

Built in the late 1800s, the old tobacco barn has been standing on the family farm for over one hundred years. Originally the barn was painted red with white trim. A centuries worth of wind and rain faded the barn board slats to a dull gray. Every other slat is hinged at the top and hooked near the center, allowing it to swing out, letting air circulate through the barn, curing the tobacco. Near the northwest corner of the barn hangs a particular slat that draws my attention each time I venture near.

History of Tobacco In Connecticut

Empire State Building

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White Mountain Needle and The Empire State Building

The slat that I find so intriguing is not much unlike the other slats that make up the side wall of the old barn but for a corner broken off at the slats bottom. The hole formed when the break occurred appears from one angle to be the small silhouette of a White Mountain rock formation known as The Needle. When you change the angle from which you view it, the break becomes an oblique view of the world famous Empire State Building in New York City, a black silhouette against a predawn grayness. Upon closer inspection I can see within the break the delicate webs of tiny spiders criss crossing between the jagged edges of the wood. The hair thin strands glisten with moisture and connect my special slat with the next. When I venture this close to the barn the smell of curing tobacco can faintly be sensed coming from the wood, though no tobacco has hung inside this old barn for at least thirty years. No, looking through the hole past the spider webs I see not racks of curing tobacco, but a jumble of old farm implements and tractor parts kept against the day when they might be useful again.

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Nature Stakes a Claim

As I return my attention to the outside of the barn, I notice the green of moss growing on what remains of the bottom of the slat. A thin layer of green on the slat’s gray, the moss could almost be paint the farmer once used to cover the barn. But it is not paint, not man's paint anyhow, it is nature reclaiming the coarse wood of the slat as its own.

Nature has made other inroads against the barn besides the moss. Evidence of nature's other inroads against the man made structure is demonstrated by a rainbow-like arch of lighter gray a third of the way up the slat’s dark face. A small tree growing in the shadow of the barn sways in the wind, brushing the slat, slowly wearing away the darker grain, and revealing the lighter wood beneath. The resulting arch looks much like a frown on the slat’s dark face: a tired frown as if the slat has had enough of that little tree, but has given up on the tree’s ever going away. With every breeze the arch wears deeper and the slat’s frown deepens.

Source

History Holds On

The breeze rattles the slat on its hinges ever so slightly. If I strain I can hear the faint creak of tired wood pulling against the hinge screws that have held it in place so very long. Though it is tired after a century of holding on, the wood complains, but it does not let go. The slat has seen the bright sun of more than a hundred summers and felt the icy chill of more than a hundred winters; it survived the hurricane of 1938, a storm that came before hurricanes had names. It weathered a lighting strike in 1951, the flood of 1956, and the tornado of 1979. A tired old piece of wood is this slat, a ten-inch-wide piece of history from a time when tobacco was king in the Connecticut River Valley, and even tobacco barns were built to last.

©Copyright 2014 Douglas W Davis. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any portion of this post without mention and written permission from this author is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.


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    • profile image

      rescuedwho 

      3 years ago

      Always was drawn to these old, graying barns. So much beauty if you take the time to look. Beautiful Hub. Thank you.

    • DWDavisRSL profile imageAUTHOR

      DW Davis 

      3 years ago from Eastern NC

      I am glad you enjoyed the hub. My wife's family has farmed that land for well over a hundred years. It is a dairy farm now.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I have always found old buildings like this so intriguing; there is such a history we can only guess at. I really hate to see ones allowed to fall to the ground. ^+

    • moonfairy profile image

      moonfairy 

      3 years ago

      I like this hub very much.....it brings me back to when I used to wander around in my grandmother's old barn. Your words bring vivid images and I can almost smell that tobacco!

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 

      3 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Very nice. Be sure to document in images the wood grain, rusting nails and other holes to the inside before it crumbles or is dismantled for reclaimed wood.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      What an interesting bit of nostalgia with this old slat of wood which speaks of the past with its creaking. I enjoyed reading this hub and felt like I was right there exploring in that old barn. One of my aunts lived on a tobacco farm from the time she first married till her passing - some 70 years. The farm was over 100 years old and was first built and settled by her husband's grandfather. Their tobacco barn was huge.

      Good hub. Voted Up and shared.

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