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Walking a Familiar Road
The Spectator
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 by Frank Shortt
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When you have traveled a road many times each landmark becomes familiar and becomes imprinted upon your very soul. I sometimes go back to my childhood surroundings and ponder as to what I learned from those experiences.

Things in my past seem to change very slowly. Unless a fire has raged through, the trees remain the same, only larger. The houses along the way have remained about the same. The atmosphere remains just about like it was as I was growing up. When I attend familiar places, such as flea markets, cattle markets, etc. there is the same air of music wafting through the crowd. The same cries can be heard that I heard as a young man. Some folks stay pretty well-to-do, some stay in a close-to-poverty state. You can see that I have driven these roads before!

Old Farmer Davis still grows his hay putting it up just like he did before. The only difference is that he uses tractors instead of horses. The horses are only for an occasional ride by his grandchildren. They roam the pastures just itching to be out on a run.

Aunt Jane Boyd, who sold us honey, is long gone, but her heirs carry on the tradition of keeping bees. The honey is just about the same as it is derived from the trees that grow profusely as there is plenty of moisture on Boyd Ridge. They say that poplar blossoms produce the best honey! They are probably right. I can still see, in my memory, Aunt Jane sitting on the porch of her little log cabin, rocking back and forth, fretting that there are not enough hours in the day for her to accomplish all that she feels she must do in a day. Her old spinning wheel is idle now but kept as a remembrance of that old sainted soul whose hands grew gnarled from twisting the threads she made by hand.

Bill Rose used to walk from Boyd Ridge to the little town of Raven, unless he was able to procure a lift from the sparse traffic that traversed old Route 460 in those days. He had little money but went to the Horton Hardware store every chance he got just to see what was new. Hortonís knew his plight and would extend credit to him if he by chance bought some item. His hillside farming produced little in the way of ready cash.

Dick Kline, a resident of Raven, walked by our house on Grassy Creek on a regular basis. It is said he carried his money in coins that would fit in the fingers of an old leather glove. This became a weapon in case any robbers came upon him and was a nice way to hide his savings from a snooping wife. I am sure he was not the richest man around Raven.

Old Joe Clifton, as he was called by all the locals, walked by our house occasionally with two white jugs, painted that way to make it appear that there was milk in them. Instead, the jugs contained moonshine whiskey, made up on Clifton Fork from home grown corn. He disguised his merchandise to hide it from the local law enforcement and from any thug that might want to rob him of his hard-earned precious liquid. He was not fooling anyone as we all knew what he was up to!

Grandma Shortt, always short of money, because she raised all her brood as a widow could be seen traversing the highway as a regular routine. She would be on her way to Irby Altizerís store to charge up a bill of goods. My dad would often pay Irby off, or sometimes Irby would just simply erase the debt out of charity. He did this for several people that he knew were a little desperate for ready money. She always walked hastily as if she had something more important to do later!

I am sure by now, after reading my little treatise, you can tell that the roads I walked as a youngster are still very familiar to me. Who can tell, my ashes may end up back there someday. What better place to be?