(The start of Drennon Ridge (to the left) near the Grocery bus story......)
A Henry County Memory
Submitted and Written By: Rick Hutchison
Walkin' over Drennon Ridge to catch the grocery truck with Aunt Cooch from Uncle Jimmy’s farm back in the ‘50s was an adventure! (When I was a kid, I called it ‘Uncle Jimmy’s’ farm. Now, I realize that it was a joint effort!)
We'd start out right after lunch on Thursdays (?) and head down the rock lane from the house and around the pond just in front of the main barn...... It was always hot (I only got to stay on the farm in the summers), but I never noticed the heat too much as a kid....... I went barefoot and only had a pair of shorts on, anyway……
Grasshoppers jumped off the rocks and into the high weeds on the side of the road as we passed, and I would try to catch one or two if I didn’t have to get too far behind. Aunt Cooch let me open the gate that led to the left down through the ‘holler’ to Drennon Creek and Collin's Hole (a famous fishin' spot), and to the right along the ridge to the 'far' tobacco barn. We took to the right.
Down the lane we went and it seemed like such a long, ‘exotic’ way to go ….to the right…… on the high ground and off the farm…… off ‘our’ place and on to the next gate, past the ‘far’ barn, around a pond, across a pasture and over a fence. You should have seen Aunt Cooch scramble over that fence! And in a dress, too!
Now back in that pasture, as often as not, Aunt Cooch had to drive off cows (not our cows!) and the occasional bull, if it looked like they were the slightest bit interested in us! She always had a stick or a dried cornstalk in her hand that scared the hell out of anything that might look at us sideways! My personal, Jean de Arc! But, most of the time, we were able to keep the pond between the cattle, and us as we moved to the fence jumpin' point. I was never afraid of any big animals when I was with Aunt Cooch.
Then, down a path we went through thick woods to the Drennon, and way east of Collin's Hole (I think)........ I don't remember crossin' Drennon on these trips ever, so it must have been very easy or we must have crossed at a dry spot in the creek. I do remember crossin' what is now Highway 202 (was it gravel in the 1950’s?) somewhere between the Dell, and the old Drennon Chapel…… the bottom land of the Drennon .........
Across the road was a two-story house way back from the road where we headed to wait on the porch for the grocery bus........ I wondered if the people who lived here had a wood stove, an outside bathroom, and a well like Aunt Cooch……… I still wonder about that!
It seemed like others were there to meet the bus, too… But that memory is kind of vague... One memory is not vague in the least, however! I had my first taste of home made ice cream on that porch..... The people makin' it even let me take a turn at the crank on an old bucket...... and they let me put the first hand of rock salt I ever saw on the ice around the metal cylinder that held the ice cream AND peaches (of all things, peaches in ice cream!)......... I wondered why they put salt on that ice, cause ice only melted salt and then you would just have less ice to freeze the ice cream…… What would have been their answer to that question? It was real easy to crank at first, but then it got really hard, so somebody took over for me. They still let me pour on the salt....... I suspect they got a good laugh when I discovered it was real work makin' ice cream....but I didn't care. That ice cream was the first time I ever thought of somethin’ as real and good, and somethin’ I could make (or at least help) make…….. Then or now if I want to....
I loved those people and I don't even know who they were........ In those days kids were identified, but adults were not named at all…....
A bus horn! And there came that great bus around the bend! A school bus painted tan brown! I made a beeline for it and I believe I was always the first one on ... If there were other kids around, I don't remember (curious, I never thought of that)! I bounded onto the bus...past the driver (owner?) and straight to the candy and BB section........ It smelled just like any old country store....wood floors....and produce........ It had wire bushel baskets full of beans, corn and other stuff on racks and a hangin’ scale to weigh em. (Aunt Cooch grew better stuff in her own garden.) But it had canned goods, rifle and shotgun ammunition, and a bunch of other things I can’t recall, ‘cause I didn’t need any of em! (The only reason I remember the ammunition, is ‘cause I thought Uncle Jimmy might need some.) The only thing I cared about in that bus were the Daisy BBs in red cardboard tubes, and penny candy, and Aunt Cooch got ‘em both for me in the first minute on board that bus!
Then, I would go outside the bus and open one of those tubes and look at a handful of BBs that shone like gold in the late afternoon sun! I bet they cost a nickel a tube! A dang fortune…..
Aunt Cooch would always have me carry a bag or two of groceries over the creek, up the hill, and back over Drennon Ridge. I never thought about what was in those bags and I don't know to this day what she bought. But I know one thing! I never left the ridge without looking back at the house where somebody was smart enough to make ice cream on a hot day, or a guy in a bus was kind enough to remember to stock enough BBs for kids’ guns.
Uncle Jimmy never went with us........... I think this was his way of showin’ me what women were doin’, although I think he never really had the full story! But I remember seein' his great smile and crinkly eyes, and hearin’ funny stuff, when we were gettin' near to the house........
I don't remember actually crossin’ the ridge or cows lookin' at us funny or crowdin' us on the way back. I don't remember ever eatin' supper after one of those trips, either! I remember bein' very tired though.
Maybe lasting memories are built on the anticipation and excitement of new things happening in your life! And maybe the very best of those things just also wear you out! And if I got ‘the right of it’, then, my dear Aunt Cooch gave me one of the best!