|Tate Farm (hwy 140) surrounded by rice|
I recently spent two days home in Mississippi County driving around the farm, sleeping in my bed, visiting with my Aunts. I love to go home to feel the delta soil beneath my feet, smell the air, see the cotton growing. Arkansas is my place to recharge. There are no city noises to spoil the peace and quiet. It’s dark at night. There are stars. Every farmer waves at each driver on the road, and everyone says to me, “You look just like your momma” or “Thomas was a great farmer”.
Saturday morning I drove to the home place on the gravel road between Crews Lateral and the Coleman Farm. Nana and Papa Creecy started farming there in 1936 with a $75 loan from Keiser Supply Company. Momma grew up in the house and Uncle Rex lived there for a time. It’s where we celebrated Christmas Eve every year until they moved to Keiser in 1973. It’s still the home place.
As kids we spent hot summer days playing on combines and pickers in the barn and planting watermelon seeds behind the storm shelter. Watermelon seeds that never sprouted. The huge concrete storm shelter in the center of the back yard was the catalyst for backyard games serving as our jungle gym, home base, picnic table. After a morning of playing in the dirt we ate lunch sitting on top of the shelter, sandwiches and melon and homemade vanilla ice cream, probably because Nana could easily hose us off there. Two minutes after Nana said – don’t drop a spoon down that storm shelter! – our cousin Lesa dropped her sterling silver spoon down into the hole on top… That spoon would be worth $200 today. The shelter was dark and abandoned and filled with trash and snakes, so no one dared go inside to hide from a tornado or to get the spoon, no matter its worth. The storm shelter is gone now. Most everything is gone. But the memories are still there.
I often wonder if anyone found that spoon.
A farm worker now lives in the house. His young wife was outside, so I immediately finagled an invitation inside. She was accommodating and I was THRILLED. Although I’ve driven by many times over the years, it was my first time back inside in 39 years. A place changes in 39 years. A girl changes in 39 years.
|The den (now)|
Walking into the front room, I couldn’t breathe. The walls were still covered with knotty pine paneling once displaying Papa’s mounted deer heads and a wild boar shot in mid-charge. I immediately teared up. I’m sure the young lady who now lives in the house thought I was a complete basket case. I still saw Papa Creecy sitting in his worn leather recliner surrounded by stacks of papers and farm magazines, his big desk in the corner and the television on the opposite wall where we always watched the Miss America pageants with Nana. We always cheered for Miss Arkansas but fell asleep before the pageant was over. Papa carried us to bed, my long legs dragging the floor. He smelled of Brut.
|Papa Creecy (Reven Creecy)|
I explained to the lady how the original bathroom ran along the back where her closet is now and how the current bathroom was once Uncle Rex’s bedroom. She had no idea who I was talking about, but I didn’t care. If she was going to live in this house, she needed to know its history. She needed to understand the importance of this place.
I stood inside our bedroom there, once my mother’s. Staci and I always played in the closet, hidden deep in the back, building forts. We had big imaginations… Our bedroom backed up to the dining room so we woke early on Sunday mornings to Nana’s kitchen sounds, the rattle of pots and pans and the smell of bacon frying.
The little kitchen looked the same except her big stove was gone. And Nana was gone, but not really. As I looked out the kitchen window to the field beyond, I remembered she had a little poem on the wall beside the sill that I memorized as a child reading it over and over each time I visited. I don’t know who wrote it or what happened to it, but I remember it.
The world is wide and wonderful
Wherever you may roam.
But thoughts return to special things
Like friends and love and home.
A girl really doesn’t change in 39 years.
What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong
The House that Built Me, Miranda Lambert
The House that Built Me, Miranda Lambert
Wonderful! Really took me back. Who says you can’t go home again? Talya’s Mom
The Neighborhood Wine Porch Party says
I really loved this story. It reminded me of the time I went back to my Grandparents house in Oak Cliff. I had driven by many times but one day I got out and walked around…so many wonderful memories flowed through me, I could almost not breathe, and yes, I also teared up. I truly miss my Grandparents and that small old house in Oak Cliff! And your story brought all the great times I spent there flooding back! Thanks for bring them alive for me again! Harold
Hey Talya! I enjoyed reading this very much. It brought to mind that old, but true, saying, “There’s no place like home.” As far as I know, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz made these immortal words famous as she clicked her ruby red slippers together three times. I think it was three times. Anyhow, I always thought that was a cool movie, and the monkeys that scared a lot of other kids, I thought they were pretty cool because of their wings, I guess. Movie special-effects have come along way since then. Anyway, it’s fun to go back and remember the great times when we were kids and our imaginations took us to anywhere we wanted to go. The cool thing about our imaginary travels was that no matter where or how far we went away, we were never too far from home,…and home-cooking when we got hungry!=)
Who says you can’t go home? I really enjoyed reading this . I spent many a night in the Creecy home place. I loved your Grandparents very much and of course your Mom is very dear to me.
thank you! glad you remember too.
Robin Loyd says
I look forward to reading your posts everyday! Your writings about your memories, bring up memories from my own childhood. The first place I remember living is my grandmother’s house at Joiner. I remember the smell of bacan frying and strong coffee! Thank you for bringing such wonderful memeories to mind!
I drove by your mom’s house in Marie:)) thought of you.
Boy oh boy, you did it this time! Tearjerker for sure. There is something about the smell of coffee that always makes me think of my Grandparents. Back when coffee came in a tin can and I would rinse it out and save it (for who knows what?) I would stick my nose in to get a big whiff of Grandma and Grandpa. Is that crazy? Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Smells bring back memories for sure!
Made me all misty-eyed! Wonderful read, Talya! Loved the pictures too! Have you ever seen Miranda Lamberts video, The House That Built Me? Would be a great musical pairing! You can go to YouTube and see it. It’s about a girl who goes back to her childhood home and this blog reminds me a lot of that video and how she felt while touring it with the current owner. Love the details you always provide – makes us feel like we are right there with you! XoxO. Talya’s cuz
Yes I love that song but it makes me cry. You are right, it is perfect. I will add it.
You brought back bittersweet memories of my Granny and Papa…only bitter because I miss them so. They’ve been gone over twenty years, but my memories are just like yesterday. I often dream about their house, since sold, but they are never in the dreams. I miss them, that time period, and their generation. One of their sons, my uncle, lives in Nashville, Arkansas, by the way.
Barbara Tate says
I drove by the home place yesterday. Lots of memories flood my brain.