BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 27 birthplace and homeplace

I wandered far from Banner Mountain . . . far from the place where I was born.

. . . But never have I forgotten where I am from.

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My folks were one of the families of the Banner Mountain community whose houses nestled along a road that still is hard dirt, clay and rocks. Our address once was Route 2 and we had a mailbox number, which does not immediately come to my mind.

A few years ago, when 911 maps were introduced, the road by my homeplace was named Silver Rock.

My grandparents lived along this road in a house with a breezeway. After my grandpa died, my folks with five children moved into the house with Grandma and my aunt. My grandma’s house with a breezeway is the place of my birth.

The breezeway was converted into more rooms and though no one lives in the house today, it still exists as the homestead of my grandparents.

While my parents were living with Grandma, my dad built our homeplace nearby. When I was about one year old, the family moved into our new frame house. So the house Daddy built became home to me and I never left until I married at age nineteen.

With my husband I moved far, far away from Banner Mountain . . . I followed my husband in his travels with the Air Force . . . but never have I forgotten where I am from.
© Freeda Baker Nichols

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a painting of my homeplace by my sister, Yvonne Baker Hall. © copyright, Yvonne Hall.

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL–School Days#22

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
Chocolate pie - 1 (2)

GOING HOME

GOING HOME

My plane is airborne, headed south.

Memories march in and out of my mind–

like dogface soldiers.

I’d said goodbye to Mama, then Daddy,

who bent to hug my three year old son

not very long ago.

Emotion struck Daddy like blows.

He straightened, then turned too late

to hide moist eyes.  His blue eyes had

laughed when I was my son’s age.

Youth disappears like the dandelion fuzz

on the face of the wind.

Adams Field is windy . . . but the

planes’ wheels touch the runway

in a smooth landing.

“No, son, Papa’s not here . . .

to meet us.”

Uncle Jim’s brown pickup needs washing.

“Your mama’s taking it bad, ” he tells me.

“Is the wake at the house?” I ask.

He nods. “Like your daddy wanted.”

At the doorway, someone takes my

little boy by the hand.

“The casket’s gray. I never saw Daddy

in a coat and tie before. He’s so cold-looking.

Mama? Mama!”

Her warm arms engulf me.

© 2017 Freeda Baker Nichols

Daddy

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 12

DSC_0065Gene, Freeda, cave on Baker Place, ClintonI 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 what I want to express through my words.

I write for fun although some of my better poems came from unhappy times in my life.  Some of my most frustrating episodes turn into humorous stories or poems.  How can sitting at a desk, writing,  be fun, asked my super-active youngest son who is a plumber, by trade.  A daring child when he was a youngster, his idea of fun was spinning the tires of a four-wheel drive truck deep in mud along the riverbank.

Through writing, my reader and I can go into  dangerous areas without leaving our homes.  And I have fun.

  I write for profit, although writing has not been very lucrative.  Still, I attempt to earn money with writing.  And I wind up with pocket-money, at least.

To entertain with  words is my goal and I feel like an actress on a stage.  I want to be good at writing, to be remembered as an author who caused others to read, to laugh, to cry.  I want my readers to be encouraged, to believe that life must be lived to its fullest, that precious time must not be squandered.

I like to draw and to paint and would have enjoyed being an artist.  I have no time for art  because something compels me to write, keeps me at it,  and won’t allow me to be disheartened for long.

That “something” drives me, has driven me since I was nine years old.  Sometimes, it hides from me temporarily, but it always returns and heads me back toward the green meadows, it takes me over purple mountains, it allows me to watch an eagle glide, and sustains me through all my winters and summers.

A racehorse races because he can.

I’m a writer. I write because I must.  I have no choice.

cCopyright, 2012, Freeda Baker Nichols

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL

Banner Mountain Girl—Post # 8
From my journal . . .
5 October 1978–Today, it came – my first acceptance by a publication—a letter from “Home Life” says they are accepting my manuscript entitled, “We’re home!” With tears, I bowed my head and thanked God for making all things possible. None of my family knows that I’ve had this manuscript sent off, and I want to wait until we are all together this week-end to tell them. The story I wrote began thirteen years ago, in Michigan. I re-worked it recently. It seems to me, although I’m not sure and can’t remember for certain, that it was rejected by “Home Life” a few years ago. My creative writing classes have helped me immensely. It has been a long time and I have been discouraged many times but I hope with all my heart that I can open my heart and share, through my writing the way I feel about life, the precious gift from God to all of us.
30 October 1978—I received a check in the amount of $33.00 for my story, “We’re Home.” It will be in the August/79 issue of Home Life.
(Note: The editor changed the title to a more appropriate one, “A Family Bivouac.” It can be read on my blog by searching for “A Family Bivouac” in the Search window.  Or click on this link https://freedanichols.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/a-family-bivouac–
Until next time . . .
Thanks for reading,
Freeda Baker Nichols