Some of my earliest memories took place in this old house. When we moved in, the house was not finished being built. My brothers and I thought it was sort of cool that the floors were bare and the tile in the bathrooms were half complete. In our bathroom there were two sawhorses with plywood on top to make a table for those who were still working to finish the room. I thought it was fun to crawl under the table to get to the tub. Jump ahead about a year to Christmas 1965. My Grandparents were here for the holidays. I remember having to wait on the stairs on Christmas morning for Mamaw and Papaw to get up and go downstairs before my brothers and I could go see what Santa had left for us. I could not believe that they were not as excited as we were at 5:00 am to open gifts and play with everything that appeared overnight. Later that morning my brothers and I were out in the neighborhood comparing our new things with our friends. We had so much fun showing our stuff and were excited to see what our friends got. If I remember right, most everyone got Davy Crockett coonskin hats, cap rifles and pistols. That morning we were all transformed back to the wilderness days of early America. We were fortunate to have a lot of woods and a bayou in our neighborhood that added to our playtime. We built forts, trails and hunted game, or I mean squirrels and birds with our cap guns. I think the squirrels were confused when the cap guns popped, sometimes they would just stare at us.
Growing up in the 1960s, we had only one black and white TV and it was in Mom and Dad’s room. Saturday mornings is when we would watch TV since those were the days of good cartoons. We also watched history developing on that Black and White TV. I remember watching Neil Armstrong step on to the moon. One time my Dad rented a color TV to watch the Superbowl. We invited neighbors over. I recall being mesmerized at seeing color on the TV for the first time. I had no idea that where they played foot ball was green grass! I thought they played on a gray parking lot or something. That is how I accounted for the stripes on the field. I was never one to watch sports, but my Dad loved to watch his Arkansas Razorbacks.
We spent most all our time outside playing and building things. The vacant lots around our house were all woods and we cut trails, built forts and sometimes played war with our friends. Pinecones made for great hand grenades. As we grew older, the trails were made wider for our bikes, then even wider for our go cart.
As I look back at our time in the old house, there are a lot of good memories. But there were also some dark days, like when Mom was diagnosed with cancer in the early 1970s. I really did not understand what was going on, but I knew it was serious. Through God’s Grace and the miracle of medicine Mom became cancer free.
Another thing I recall as I walk through the empty house today is our rooms. When we moved in, Donny and I shared a room and Johnny had his own room. Not long after moving in, Donny moved another room. I was glad to have a room to myself. As you look at the front of the house, my room is the left window upstairs. Johnny’s room is the middle window and the right window is the bathroom in my parent’s room. At one point, Johnny and Donny traded rooms so Johnny’s room then looked out at our neighbor, the Rogers. We could do whatever we wanted to our rooms and I recall painting mine several times. In my room, there was a small door that led to attic space. One day Dad brought home a station wagon full of plywood. We floored that attic space so I now had an extra room I could call my own. I filled it with a blacklight and posters. I brought in carpet pieces that I found. I painted stuff all over the walls in blacklight paint that made the Pad, as I called it, look cool! There was an air-conditioning vent that led downstairs that I cut a hole in so I would have AC in the Pad. It was a big day for me when I bought my first TV. We got an allowance for doing things around the house, so I saved up to buy the small black & white TV. I had a place in the Pad for the TV and another place in my room. When I looked through these empty rooms yesterday, they seemed so big and impersonal. I took pictures and looking back at those, I could not recognize our home. I concluded that home is where your family is, not the building.
As I drove away from the old house, I had mixed feelings, one of longing for earlier times and one of gratitude of our home today. I expect that I will have those similar feelings as my time here on earth closes in one day; longing for the early time where our memories were made mixed with gratitude that I had a good life and anticipation of our new home with God, our permanent home.