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Monday, September 3, 2012

UNCLE DAN


family grave yard
courtesy photobucket.com
         
Of the eleven siblings Dan was number six.  Three of which had died so doing the math eight lived to adulthood.

In 1935 I was living in Cliffside North Carolina in a cotton mill town. The mill owned most of the homes in the area and rented them out to the employees.

It was a nice place to live compared to what we were used to. It had an electric socket in the center of each room to which a light bulb and electric cords were attached to. From there they were cords plugged into all the appliances such as toasters, radios and when they were all turned on they blew a fuse. (It was common for people to place a penny into the fuse box when the fuse blew and was cause of several homes to be burned because they overrode the fuse protection.)

There were cords running everywhere overhead from the light sockets to appliances.

The bathroom facilities amounted to an outhouse which was only about forty feet away. Our bathtub was a galvanized wash tub that had many functions from bathing, washing clothes and soaking your feet.

Getting back to Uncle Dan; he came to visit my family along with some of the other members of our clan.   As a young child I must have seen him at the old home place but I didn't remember him.  I was about five years old and though Uncle Dan was only 15 he looked like a big man. I thought to myself; “He has a big head and curly hair, and he just didn't seem to fit in as a Davidson for no one in our family has curly hair."

Shortly after this we moved to California, the year was 1936   (We returned from California a couple of times to the home place for a visit and I met Uncle Dan again along with many of the other family members.)

A little later while visiting his sister Uncle Dan met a girl in a really small town named Old Berlin which was about 20 miles away, and they were married after a short courtship.

One year later he was working for a farmer for one dollar a day, and they were living in a shack down in a holler which was owned by the farmer for rent free. Their first child was born there and three months later he, a little boy, died.

About this time we had a lot of heavy rain and as they say "The River was up and it was a day or two before Dan was able to get to the home place where the family graveyard was. The elders hitched up a wagon and went the three miles to his home and got the dead child and his distraught wife.

While they were gone some others had built a small coffin out of some poplar boards and lined it with cotton batting and some white outing material (total cost of the funeral was about twenty five cents) The coffin was placed in the front room and being curious I put my hand in there and felt the lining. I thought this isn't so bad it is very soft. I was about six at the time but some of the details still linger in my mind.

When the elders returned with the baby, they dressed it and placed it in the coffin. Then they put the lid on that was secured with nails. I was trying to sort out my feelings for they seemed so mixed up, this being the first time I had seen a dead person.

Meanwhile the small grave had been dug. The ground was soft and sticky from the rains and it was easy to dig except there were many roots they had to cut.

The graveyard was a cool place with several trees around it and as a child, sometimes on a hot day I would go there and sit.

Because poor people couldn't afford an undertaker the burials occurred as soon as possible after the demise of the person so there wasn't much time to mourn the individual. There was company coming and food to be prepared besides the funeral itself.

There wasn't a minister at the grave site and there wasn't much said; but sadness wasn't in short supply. Through the weeping we sang "Shall we gather at the river" and the casket was lowered with ropes into the grave. It just took a few minutes to fill the small hole and a mound of dirt was placed upon top of it.

This was the first time I experienced the foreboding Spirit of darkness that always accompanies this type of event, and for a young child it was almost unbearable.

The next day Uncle Dan and his wife returned home and he went back to work in the fields while his wife was left to the loneliness of the dark, drab existence that was their lot.

I will continue this story of Uncle Dan when my brain rests for awhile; "On to California and December seventh 1941"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8EIjGXtCLk

This post is shared at:  “Tell Me a True Story” http://letmetelluastory.blogspot.com/

Also linked to: Sharing His Beauty Monday   http://www.thebeautyinhisgrip.com/

 

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