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weathered plank house was perched on stacked stone pillars, its crawl space open on
all sides to chickens and grandchildren. Grandpa drew buckets of cool, tasty well water
with a rope and pulley, and everyone bathed in a metal tub on the back porch; there
were chamber pots in the bedrooms and a two-seater outhouse, discretely positioned
beyond the chicken coop. At meals we kids perched among the grownups on rough-
hewn benches, savoring fried chicken and cream gravy, mashed potatoes, snap peas
or other garden vegetables, and fresh baked rolls, generously buttered and sopped in
molasses. On Sundays we'd climb into a mule-drawn wagon for the mile ride to church,
then sit spellbound while the old ladies wailed out “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”
and finger-sized katydids crawled from the pews up onto their sunbonnets.
Author, almost six, with sunfish near his grandparents' farm, Smith County, Texas, 1951. (Photo:
H. W. Greene)
For Will and me, oblivious to the hardships of country life, those Lindale trips were
grand adventures. We wore denim overalls like Grandpa's and played among clucking
hens, used twigs to noodle ant lions from their sandy pits, and made our own “play pret-
ties,” as my grandparents called toys—steamrollers, for example, out of old oil filters
dragged around on coat hangers. I awkwardly milked the Jersey cow and watched with
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