I am a writer, and I write. Racehorses run races because they are compelled by forces larger than themselves and writers write because of an inner force too strong to be ignored. I write to fulfil a need that I believe I was born with–a desire to put words into stories and poems, to create situations and re-live experiences in order to share with others. I write for fun and for profit.
When the wellspring within me overflows with ideas, I grab a pen and paper and write the ideas down. I pay attention to detail, to unusual happenings, to unique and common conversations. People are interesting to me. I am one of the many inhabitants of this earth. I write to communicate with others.
Writing is therapeutic but that’s not the reason I write. In fact, I won’t write when I’m extremely sad because I don’t want sadness to show through and discourage others. Optimism is…
The railway bridge at edge of my hometown
no longer hears an engine’s chugging hiss,
no longer shakes with jar of clacking wheels.
Old-timers spin tall tales of how they miss
the whistle blaring near the mountain bend.
Though trains no longer cross the Little Red,
the bridge has earned the honor to remain–
iron-clad above the restless river’s bed.
The swimming hole beneath the overpass
attracts both old and young from off the ridge.
The local preachers hold baptisms there
in sight of that old tough and rustic bridge.
As I remember Banner Mountain in the springtime, I think of how the apple blossoms and plum blossoms greeted me as I returned from school. I might not have noticed the fresh blooms in the orchard as I left the house to walk up the trail to the Banner School. But always on my return, the orchard welcomed me back home from a day of “readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmetic” and playing with my friends.
Yvonne & Freeda Baker
Yvonne and I at the homeplace, standing between the daffodils and the lilac bush. With two years difference in our ages, we were inseparable. Mama said that when I started to school that Yvonne was very lonely. She’d go outside and call for our dog, named Rusty. “Here, Rust! Here, Rust!” In a couple of years, though, Yvonne joined me on the walk to school. As time went by, Rust met his fate although I don’t recall when or how he died. Another dog named Fuzzy came into our lives, and he was allowed to go with us to school. He waited around for us until school was out and he hurried along as we headed back home. At the close of school for the summer when certificates were given to those completing the eighth grade, Fuzzy received a certificate, too. I don’t know how much Fuzzy learned but he was well-behaved and friendly to all.
The lilacs, the daffodils, and the orchard’s pink and white blooms were such a pleasant sight–the memory of which I still cherish from long-ago spring-times on Banner Mountain. ~~Freeda Baker Nichols
Our schoolhouse at Banner Mountain was a white building with two rooms. In one room a teacher taught first grade through fourth grade. In the other room, another teacher taught fifth through the eighth grade.
Four of my older siblings are shown in this picture which was taken before I started to school. This photo is the only one I have of the Banner School.
(Banner School, about 1937. Mrs. Ola Griggs
the teacher, seated at end of second row.
In front row is my brother, Billy, 4th from
left. Another brother, Aaron is seated in 3rd row
behind the teacher and to her right. My sister,
Merle, is in the 4th row, the 4th person from the right.
My brother, Dean, is the dark haired boy in the
back row, 5th from the right.)
My siblings and I walked about a quarter mile to school. We walked along a trail through the woods, carrying our lard-pail lunch buckets. What am I saying? There was no such word as lunch back then. Not in my vocabulary. The lard buckets with handy little bails were dinner buckets. At night, our mealtime was called supper.
The bucket at left is the container my mother used to pick blackberries. I still have this bucket along with the 8-pound lard tin that was also my mother’s. Our lunch pails were only half that size. My lunch always tasted good, especially the fried chocolate pies.~~Freeda Baker Nichols
These colorful birds visit my yard often. The birds that I remember when I was a child at Banner Mountain were not the same as these. They were mockingbirds, hummingbirds, sparrows, crows, hawks, owls and purple martins. My older siblings often told the story of how they would go look at a bird’s nest in an old tree. They said it was the nest of a “yellow-hammer” and it was built in an old “snag,” which meant it was in an old hollow tree. But I have no idea what kind of bird it was. My siblings went every day to see the baby birds. By researching, I’ve learned the yellowhammer is Alabama’s state bird, which is a northern flicker or yellow-shafted flicker. Or as one source says, they were birds with yellow patches under their wings. I can only imagine how beautiful those birds and baby birds must have been. I wish I could have seen them but they lived in the old snag tree before I was born. And to this day, I have not seen a yellowhammer bird. ~~Freeda Baker Nichols