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Kevin L. Whitworth

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Ambivalent Reflections
By Kevin L. Whitworth
Monday, January 20, 2003

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We all have that special place we loved as a child here is mine

I'm certain we all have passionate memories of a special place forever stamped in our consciousness, mine is my Grandfather's farm. I have considerably fond memories of his farm. This was my escape from the city and the so called civilized life when I was a child. Despite the evident borders, to me the tract of land seemed to span to the horizon. It measured one hundred and sixty-five acres and staged rolling hills cloaked with white and brown flint rock, prairie grass, crops and, livestock. It was in southern Missouri eight miles southwest of a town that boasted of being the only town in the world with the name, "Humansville" and approximately one hundred miles north of the now famous Branson, Missouri. For a child who liked and relished freedom and loved animals, this was paradise.

The farm exhibited a menagerie of animals. On its premisses were chickens, ducks, geese, turkey, goats, sheep, pigs, cows, horses, more varieties of bird and beast than I can recall. There was always at least one milking cow on the farm. My Grandfather would stand in front of the barn in the morning before the sun rises, cup his hands around his mouth and holler," SUE-EEY . . . SUE-EEY" and the milk cow would come running from wherever she was to the barn. I used to love to separate the cream. I would put it on my cereal for breakfast, or on strawberries from the magnificent garden that made the back yard come alive with splashes of color borrowed from Eden itself.

On this farm, were out buildings everywhere, two large barns, two log cabins built from oak logs, complete with attics, feed sheds, storage sheds, and one old house all open and waiting to be explored, which my siblings and I did quite often. My favorite place to explore was my Grandfathers desk, inside the desk were many odd things that my Grandfather had collected in his fifty plus years of farming this land. One was what appeared to be a petrified index finger complete with the nail, another was a petrified peanut that I had found one day while picking up potatoes that had just been plowed out of the ground. I remember on one particular day I came across a handgun that my Granddad usually carried with him I closed the drawer and never looked in his desk again.

That is okay, I explored other intriguing places like the sawmill; it always had big logs scattered around waiting to be cut into lumber. I remember it well, there was a huge yellow Minneapolis tractor that was missing a front wheel hooked to it. The sawmill had a gigantic round saw blade with no guards or safety features, and my Grandfather ran it all alone, I thought it was the most awe inspiring piece of equipment ever invented. I was not a teen yet but I wanted a sawmill just like my Grandfather's. It seemed really dangerous at the time and even more so now perhaps that was the attraction. This is where my Grandfather cut the boards to build the hog houses, barns and, other outbuildings that sprinkled the landscape; these structures allowed me to exercise my over active imagination. I might have thought my Grandfather created these buildings just for me, and my comrades. My siblings and cousins used these buildings as military forts so we could hold the front lines in our imaginary wars, we had to protect the rest of the known world from the "Indians" or invading "Japs"

Those days are gone forever. I've grown up, and my Grandparents passed away in a massive fire, the fall of the year, nineteen-eighty-two; the for mentioned fire engulfed the water pump shed, a mobile home, and one log home built around the turn of the century from huge old growth red oak. The heat from the logs was so intense it melted the steel siding on the trailer.

After this my uncle bought the land, and the family had an auction and sold off all the junk trucks, cars, and farm equipment. He then proceeded to doze the older outbuildings down. He built a fine new home on the same ground that my grandparents log home had once stood so proud. The orchard that I had once ate green apples out of until my stomach ached now lay in ruins. It stopped producing fruit, and was then cut down out of mercy for nature. The orchard was once a favorite refuge to me now it is gone. The fields bring forth only weeds and thistle now, not even suitable for hay.

Things have changed radically, and I guess rightly so but, it grieves my soul to see this once prolific land lay in utter disarray. I know I must press on, but I will never visit this place that meant so much to me in my childhood again. My Grandfather's farm will remain forever in my mind the way it was in yesteryear, and not the way it presently is.

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