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Friday, July 16, 2010


Being eighty years old, means you lived through the “Great Depression,” and are bound to have memories of certain events. One such happening came to mind today.

I didn’t try to think of it, it just popped into my mind. One of my grandfather’s kids, a girl married a man named Hoyle. They moved around quite a lot and finally settled in a place called Old Berlin Tenn. The husband named Dewey worked as a blacksmith.

One of my uncles (Andrew) went to visit them, and met a young woman named Virginia. He stayed there for awhile for some reason.  Later we found out he was courting country style, and afore we knew it they were married. This had to be in the mid thirties because I remember it well.

In those days if you waited until you could afford to marry, you wouldn’t ever get hitched because times were hard. My uncle got a job on a farm, and they lived in a small log house with few windows, that was situated in a tree lined valley.  Even as a boy I recall that the house was very dark inside.

A little over a year later my uncle Andrew showed up at grandpa’s place, and was very quiet. After a little while he said, “The baby has died.” They had a little boy born in the house they lived in, and after a couple of months he got sick and passed.

I can only imagine how the mother must have felt; being a young girl, poor with no money, alone with the dead child she had nursed and bonded with for such a short time.

A wave of sadness came over the whole family. The day was dreary, it was raining, and this news only darkened the day. We knew that we had to deal with this matter quickly, for in that hot climate you didn’t leave a body around for more than a day or two.

People would take some logs to the saw mill, and trade some of the lumber from them for the sawing fee, and there were some wide boards on hand. It wasn’t long before a tiny box was made, and it was padded with some rolled cotton batting. The cotton was covered with some white outing material, and it became a decent coffin.

The creeks were flooded, and it was difficult, but finally they brought the baby over and placed him in the coffin. The men had dug a grave in the family graveyard at the old home place, and we buried him. After a short time of goodbyes and weeping, it was done.

Andrew and Virginia went on to have another boy and four fine girls. This little bundle which brought so much joy when he arrived also brought much sorrow when he suddenly left through no fault of his own.

In those days it was common practice to sing “shall we gather at the river” at the grave site, and so it was.

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