I’m sitting at my desk at 6:20 am, listening to the hooting of quail, off in the distance. It brings back some very old memories.
When I was a young boy, I would hear those “Bobwhites” in the early morning when I was waking up, those times I’d spend the night with my grandfather, Pop. Pop would call them Bob Whites, but of course I had no idea what that was. It was only much later that I found out the noise was made by the Bobwhite Quail. When I was a child, it was magical, just a hoot, pause, hoot, hoot; sounding in the distance, through the foggy mornings. The slight pause between the first and second hoots is very distinctive, and there are always three hoots in a group.
Pop’s house did not have central air conditioning, or storm doors. Things were simpler then. Indoor plumbing was a retro-fit – the bathroom was added (probably before I was born) in the long hallway that went from the front of the house to the back, with doors on both sides. The door locks were simply screen door hooks, simple, effective. I remember how neat it was because Pop had colored bar soap, red, and blue. At my house it was just white. And his tooth paste was powder in a metal can, and I liked the taste of it.
Pop kept ice cream in a deep freeze in the back of the house, in what we would now call a mud room. There were three flavors; vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Back then, that’s pretty much all there was; but it was enough, and really good on a hot summer day.
I remember the kitchen, which was also the dining room. Electricity was a retrofit in this house, as I mentioned indoor plumbing was; the hot water heater stood in the corner closest to the center of the house. The room was lit by about a 40 watt light bulb; I remember it always looked dim to me at night. There was a long table with a red & white plastic tablecloth, next to the outside wall, which had a couple of windows looking out. On cool mornings, I would write or make pictures in the frost while Pop made fried cinnamon toast for me.
The screen door at the back of the house opened onto a grassy yard; I do not ever remember that grass needing to be cut, nor do I remember seeing Pop cut it. Somehow, it was always just right. At the back of the yard was a chicken coop, which was neat to play in and around. I remember the smell of the coop, compounded of the smell of chicken feed, chicken poop, and chickens. There was a small door at one side of the coop with a ramp so the chickens could go down to the ground – I would fit through it, which I thought was great.
There was an old long-defunct out-house back there, too; it had wasps in it, the time I looked inside.
There was a big ramshackle barn a few hundred feet from the house, which was often full of hay. Pop had a Harvester International Model A tractor, and he let me ride it with him; I got to adjust the throttle, one or two notches at a time. What a thrill that was!
I loved Pop. I loved my grandmother Ann, too, but Pop hung the moon.
Take a minute to remember the good times. I know it does me good every once in a while. I probably haven’t thought of these things in years.