Saturday, March 22, 2014

It's Flash Time

I would love to retake this picture today; standing on that same spot. But I can't. This spot is now under a highway on ramp. And the barn isn't there anymore either; I can't remember which store is on that spot, but it is one of the hundred or so in the New Mall. Well, we still call it the New Mall, since there isn't a newer one yet. But it's almost 30 years old.

Hard to believe the farm has been gone that long. Progress they called it then; taking a man's farm and covering his fields with blacktop. It wasn't much; 48 acres; 15 acres under the plow, 20 in pasture and hay, 3 in orchards, 8 of woods and 2 acres around the house for farmyard and kitchen garden. But the government felt it meant more to somebody else than it did to us, paid us their 30 pieces of silver and moved us out and the 'dozers in.

They knocked the house and barn into one big pile of scrap lumber. Pushed in the chicken coop, pig house and tractor shed too; burnt it all into ash. They saved the outhouse, for a while anyway, gave the men a place to take care of necessities. Do you know how insulting it is to a man to burn his house and save his privy? The smokehouse they just knocked over and buried. It was all rock, and the only round one for 20 miles in any direction. Grandad had it built by some captured German soldiers during the Great War. They did a fine job on it to. Every ham I ate from the time I was 5 until the state took the farm came out of that smokehouse. And now it's buried somewhere under the empty Penny's.

The woods they saved until last. At least they harvested some of the trees before they burned the rest. They weren't really wild woods; Great- Grandad was kind of a Johnny Appleseed. He planted the orchards- apple, cherry, pear and plum trees- and started a stand of woods. 130 years ago he decided to become a tree farmer, and planted a grove of oak, maple, walnut and poplar. Trouble was, he spent 60 years growing those trees, and then couldn't bear to  have then cut. Neither could Grandad or Pop. We took some of the smaller ones from time to time, but let the big ones go. We lost a Grandad poplar in a windstorm when I was a kid; Pop had the wood milled and it became the trim on our house. All of the baseboards and casings, with some left over.

The outfit that got the land sold the trees. I sat on the porch and watched their carcasses go by everyday for a week. I watched the smoke from what they left burn for a week more. Now here I am all melancholy. Who in their right mind gets sentimental over a small batch of woods?

I guess that's progress to some; pave the land, build a store, build a highway to get to and from the store, and admire what you've done.

Only us sentimental old fools mourn what was lost.

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