The Rope Swing
Many a swing I did have, but never it seemed as good as some others. Oh yes, yes indeed, twist the rope and let it spin, then spread your arms and run about like an airplane. Every time I would climb a tree and take poppa’s rope to make a swing, I would get my bottom tanned; dang, he didn’t use the rope but once in a while anyway.
Did not every country home and a lot of city homes have a glider, one of those metallic things? Then after a few years, it seemed they all became that dang bright enamel green. Sit on the glider and see how high it would go, inevitably turn it over and my butt get beat. But when they squeaked, that I did love, go out for hours and make that eerie noise.
But a porch swing, one with chains, that was a status symbol. Those made of pine were cheap and shoddy, but white oak, ash or walnut, were way uptown. But the funny thing I thought was some visitors who the swing did like were way too heavy.
Then there was that big old wicker porch furniture. A great big chair and of course a rocker, other pieces depending on your wealth. But after umpteen years, it too did become that enamel green. And old Spark Plug would take one as his bed. Each morning the porch had to be swept and the pillows and backpads dusted. Oh yes, if a set you did not have, then you were more like, poor white trash.
And don't forget those big old wooden rockers. Every porch had a few high-backs, and that dang green enamel. See how far and fast you could rock, without turning over or hee hee, getting caught.
Yes, the front porch was an important place, for everyone who came up or down the road surely would stop and sit a spell, have a glass of water then be on their way.
At the Old Mill Pond, up at the big curve in the road, up where the Conners did live, there on the South side of the bank, was a cable hanging down. Now the Conner children, they swam like fish and from that cable, dive and do all sorts of tricks. Me, I only cannon-balled. But you had to know when to jump so you would land in the channel. The millpond was so old that only the channel was still real deep, the rest was only four or five feet.
Yes, that was the country parlor. Come up on the porch, have a seat, have a glass of good cold ice water. Chat, or business conduct, then be up, off and on to the next. Folks who had no front porch, in the country I am talking, were really considered poor white trash, so they strove to get a porch. Just yesterday an odd route I did take home and did smile as I looked at a porch. Coming up Snyder there on the West side, in a white-board house, there was an old man in a big green wicker chair with a small white hair lady sitting on a glider. I nearly stopped, for it took me home, took me back in time.
The Rope Swing
A rope swing over the
Wonder that our necks
We never did break
Hanging from a rope
Hung high in a tree
A worn out old tire
For my siblings and me
The Pepper tree trunk
A distance to jump
To a low hanging branch
Sometimes fall on rump
I remember the time
When I did that big leap
Missed that old branch
Fell to ground in a heap
Swing Low Sweet Chariot
My Grandfather was a man of simple pleasures but not a simple man. He was, in fact, a very wise man of humble tastes. He grew up in a hard time under even harder circumstances. His Father was killed when my Grandfather was a twelve year old boy in the backwoods of the Cumberland Mountains leaving him to support his Mother and younger brother and sister. The way he supported them was to work in the coal mines. His life became one of struggle, but he did not give up. Although he never learned to read or write, he knew how to survive as the song says, "A Country Boy Can Survive." He knew the ways of the land, water, sky and animals. He married my Grandmother when he was nineteen years of age. They were married over sixty years and had eight children and many grandchildren as well as great grandchildren. They even had one great great grandchild.
My Grandpa, as I liked to call him, never had many material possessions, but he was rich in other ways. He knew how to provide for his family, and he left them a sizable inheritance when he passed on. He never went anywhere, he never owned anything much, but he left a lot of wonderful memories for me that I treasure like gold itself.
One of the things that I remember about my Grandpa was that he made up funny little rhymes using my name. He was not a fancy dresser, but he did own a Sunday suit. Most of the time he wore a long sleeve work shirt, cotton pants with suspenders, work shoes and a straw hat. He drank his coffee from the saucer where he had poured it to cool, ate off the back of his knife and loved black strap molasses and home grown tomatoes from his garden. He often ate crumbled up corn bread or biscuits in a glass of milk with a little sugar for dessert or a snack.
In his older years my Grandpa grew bedding plants, mostly tomato starts, and sold them at the house. My Mother and I lived with him and my Grandma until I was three years old, while my Dad was overseas fighting in W.W.II. I loved to see the old rain barrel, the canning fires, and the pump with the dipper hanging down. The barn was a special place with the little yellow chicks that Grandpa would let me pet.
The big chickens were a challenge. My Grandpa would catch them, swing them around, put their heads under their wings and let me pet them. To this day, I love birds of all kinds. Grandpa took me to the pond to fish, and he taught me to play mumbly-peg, with careful supervision. The big old trees had green, velvety moss around them. Grandpa would cut it and let me hold it and feel the lovely, soft texture. We would walk everywhere as he didn't have a car. Back at the house, he would swing me in the rope swing out by the field swaying with Queen Ann's Lace. As he pushed me, he would sing "Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Comin’ For To Carry Me Home." The summer breeze caught the leaves of the big tree and the call of a bird. Grandpa would say, "Hear that bird, what is he saying?" "Bob White, Bob White, and then Grandpa would say, "Are Your Clothes Bright." He always made me laugh.
Even in his last years, my Grandpa would tell me funny stories and ask if I would like some tomatoes from his garden. I remember when he was in the hospital he told me that he always thought about retirement, and when he retired he always thought how he wished he could work again. He loved to tell the stories about his days in the mines and when I was a little girl, and I never grew tired of hearing them. He loved to listen to the radio, and he never owned a television. He liked to look at magazines, even though he couldn't read the words. He knew the value of a dollar, the goodness of the Lord, and the joy of a loving family. He was a very rich man of simple ways and profound wisdom. Swing Low Sweet Chariot, and give my Grandpa his well earned palace.
Phyllis Ann (Starbird55@msn.com)
Watch these pages for more poems by the authors at Lara's Den.
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more poems and stories.
The Butter Churn
Apple Tree Poems
All Boxed Up
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