Homestead

After the evening meal the family gathered in the living room. For entertainment, there was a book. Perhaps Dad read or Mom or one of the older children. The book may have been a novel, Cooper or Dickens or Alcott. Or it may have been fairy tales the little ones read to show the big folks how well they were coming along in their letters. The reading was sad or funny or uplifting or inspirational. Their clothes they mostly made themselves, as well as soap and syrup. The fire had to be tended, prodded, and the smoke controlled. Even so, the room was filled its pervasive smell. Outside, there were no lights, only acres and acres of long leaf pines and wild animals. The night and its black blanket encompassed everything and engendered a deafening silence that we rarely experience today. Their nearest neighbors were miles away. No telephones or way to contact them. On the log walls hung rifles, ready to be fired and they all shared memories of the last time they had to be used. When sleep came, it came hard, for their bodies were bone tired. One one hand, I know this picture is nostalgic; on the other, I know it’s the sober truth.

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