An Alabama man recalls playing as a boy in the hay barn on his family farm
I could never imagine growing up anywhere except on a farm. The food we had was different from what we enjoy today. The radio took us into the imaginary roles that we played depending on the hour of the day or day of the week. The hay barn was a castle that I could reign in and in my mind close out all the problems of the world.
Most of our meals were happy times for sharing. Our main meal through the weekdays was breakfast. If we were to have meat, such as chicken, ham, pork chops or any other meat dish, we usually had it in the morning. If we caught a chicken from the yard to eat we would put it up for a few days prior to killing it. I suppose it was to feed it clean grain so it would be clean to eat. At one time we had put a chicken under a cotton basket to feed. Imagine my dad's surprise when he reached under the basket expecting to find two chicken legs but instead he caught hold of two cat legs that were scratching him. The problem began when my younger brother was playing with the chicken and it got away. He couldn't catch the chicken, but the cat was close by so he made the switch.
The radio was a very important part of our lives. We would look forward to hearing Henry Aldridge saying, "Coming Mother," or Lum answering the phone, "Jottom down store Lum speaking." Baby Snooks was always welcome in our home. One afternoon I stopped at my grandmother's, who lived next to us. She was crying. I asked her what the problem was and she informed me that Jack Armstrong, the all-American Boy, had been forced to kill someone. He had never killed before. The next day the victim proved to be well on his way to recovery and all was well.
I don't understand how anyone could ever have a happy child-hood without a barn. Ours was used for storing hay, peanuts and all kinds of goods. The stock was housed downstairs, but the loose hay was stored up in the loft. The loft was my domain on a rainy or otherwise dreary day. Even now, after more than 50 years have passed, I can see a barn and it brings back so many happy memories of my childhood. I could lay up on the loose hay and plan the future. I could dive or jump from the upper rafters and imagine I was leaping from my flaming bomber or springing from a high diving board. I loved the quiet time that old barn brought. I wish every person could have one in their past.
Looking back on these important parts of my past makes the hard times seem more like happy times and helps to bury them away forever. Even though these times took place some 50 or 60 years ago they seem like only last week.
Clyde J. Posey
Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.
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