My mother passed away this year. As my sister and I have rummaged through her “stuff”, memories have flooded our thoughts like a brook overflowing a beaver dam. Many hundreds of old sepia and black and white pictures have surfaced flooding us with thoughts of times that we had forgotten and some that we had never known. Some pictures brought smiles and others tears, but all brought precious memories of family.
Searching through each box we also found stories that my mother had written and even one of mine that Mama had saved. Enjoy my memory of Sundays, a little girl, Granddaddy Horton and the porch rocker.
“As the sun filtered though the stained-glass window and played on the pew in front of me, I grew more and more fidgety. My mother’s hand, resting gently on my leg, reminded me to be still, but my thoughts still wandered. After all, the best part of Sunday to this 5-year-old girl had yet to come.
Each Sunday, my maternal grandparents would go home with us after church. I always loved being with Granny and Granddaddy Horton and hearing the stories of the “Old Florida” that they had grown up in…..stories of huge blood thirsty mosquitoes, rattlesnakes hiding in the orange groves, shaking their rattles in warning and panthers screaming in the night. Nothing since has fired up my imagination quite the same. My grandparent’s anecdotes were so colorful that I felt like I had lived through their experiences, rather than just hearing of them.
In those days, we called the noon meal “dinner”–not lunch as we do today. Sunday dinner was always wonderful. Just thinking of those tantalizing flavors causes me to salivate even now: crispy fried chicken, real mashed potatoes, creamy gravy, fresh green beans, sliced vine-ripened tomatoes, crackling corn bread with melting butter, rich chocolate cake and hand-churned vanilla ice cream, were on the menu most Sundays. But this was not what caused me to fidget each Sunday, as the Preacher’s voice droned on and on while my thoughts escaped the walls of the church.
My Granddaddy Horton was a tall, thin man with beautiful snow, white hair. I learned from my mother that his black hair had turned white in his early 30’s. This always made him appear older than he was. To me, he seemed like a kindly patriarch, such as Moses, who I learned about in Sunday School– when I wasn’t fidgeting. I was the first grandchild, so I held a privileged position. And I never failed to let anyone know it when they challenged me for my throne–Granddaddy’s lap.
As soon as Sunday dinner was over and I was excused, I’d place my small hand in Granddaddy’s large calloused one and lead him to the porch rocker. This is where my thoughts had been leading me all day. On Sundays, our front porch became a magical place. On his cozy lap, Granddaddy would take me to marvelously exotic places with the help of the Sunday “funny papers”. As the afternoon wore on, we would explore all the places that came alive to both of us as he read of, “Little Orphan Annie”, “Alley Oop”, “Mutt and Jeff”, “Brenda Starr” and of all our other Sunday Friends. Through Granddaddy’s voice, I learned what it was like to be adopted by Daddy Warbucks, to be a comedic cave man, to live the life of a glamorous red-headed reporter, and to experience so many other exciting adventures .
I will never know if it was the love in Granddaddy’s voice, the gentle motion of the rocker or the balmy breeze that always seemed to find its way to our front porch; perhaps it was a combination of all three, but once I learned to read on my own, I was never able to recreate the spell that was cast on Sundays with Granddaddy, in a porch rocker with this little 5-year-old girl.”