Good morning! How are you good people this morning? We sure hope all are well, and welcome back to Ridin’ Out the Recession…in Miz Judi’s Kitchen.
You know, we love talk about memories, especially childhood memories, and this morning I’d like to talk with you about a very special man in my life. He loved me to death, and showed it every time he was around.
He taught me many things in life, one of which was a work ethic, and another was simply to laugh. He let me get away with things, I probably couldn’t get away with any place else, but around him it just seemed to be okay. Now I could push little things to the limit, but when I did, he didn’t need to raise his voice, but just look at me. When the smile came off his face, and he looked at you when he’d had enough, or you were just doing wrong, you knew. That’s all it took.
He was very special, and still today, twenty years later or more since his death, I remember being around him as if it were yesterday. Even going as far back as when I was 3-4 years old…I remember, much of it vividly.
Let me say this and I’ll get started. If you guys never had that one, truly special person in your life, I feel so sorry for you, because I gotta’ tell you, through him, I experienced love on a level, I’ve never attained from anyone else. My Mom’s Mother, Nannie Murphy from “shake him down Ruth, there’s a dime missing” fame, ran a very close second, but never quite reached the same plateau. She loved me too, very, very, much, and our bond was strong, but not quite like this one.
Nanny Murphy and “Shake him down Ruth, there’s a dime missing”.
Anyway, the gentleman I’m speaking of in such high regard this morning, was my Dad’s, Father…my Granddaddy Troy.
Granddaddy and I used to go off many times a week at a time, when I was just a little feller, again this starting when I was 3-4 years old. With this being the case, I don’t believe there’s a better place to start than, “the camp.”
The Camp Pt. 1
“The camp,” was at my Uncle Odell’s grove. He was my Dad’s brother, and Granddaddy’s oldest son. He owned 600 or so acres of grove, woods, and pastureland in Osceola County, here in Florida.
In case you’re wonderin’ exactly where it was at, it was between Holopaw (pronounced Holy-paw), and Yee-Haw Junction. Actually, it’s really between Holopaw and Kenansville, which is about 10 miles north of Yee-Haw Junction, but I wasn’t sure if you guys would know where Kenansville was!
Man, I loved going down there with Granddaddy as a child. There were canals dug for grove irrigation that were just loaded with bass, big bass! The deer, turkey, and hogs were abundant, and you’d see them all throughout the day if attentive, especially the turkeys.
If you were to take a light, and ride around at night, the deer were everywhere out feeding. They got so bad Uncle Odell had to fence the groves off with fence that was 7’ or 8’ high to keep them out of the orange groves. It went straight up, again, 7’ to 8’ then went out about 3’ to 4’ at a 45 degree angle to prevent the deer from jumping it.
It wasn’t barbed wire, it was just a heavy guage wire and there were enough strands run to prevent them just stepping through it too. The reasoning for the fence was the deer were eating up all the newly planted orange trees.
Every year if you have had groves, you’ll have large trees that die. This can be for any number of reasons, hard winter, disease, or maybe, some of the irrigation wasn’t working properly, but you just had some that were lost every year.
When this happens you have to plant back with your young, small trees, or resets, and Uncle Odell did this like anyone else does. But, the deer population was so great, plus those guys had figured out those little orange trees were actually quite tasty to them, it got to the point, that they were eating them as fast as you could put them in the ground. So, it wasn’t long before the fence went up, and actually it worked really well.
Granddaddy worked for Uncle Odell back then, and Granddaddy was a good grove man and grove caretaker. Uncle Odell gave him pretty much full reign, and this gave Granddaddy something to do, and was one of the main driving points for doing it. Kept him “alive,” as this gave him something to do, or “contribute,” may be a better description.
Well, up under a large Oak Hammock, was an old tin building, and this was the camp. I’m saying probably a twenty by twenty. It had a front and back door, and several windows, and the floor was just ole’ plain, unfinished plywood…no paint, no nothin’.
It was just a framed out little building with tin for the sides and roof. That’s it, just the bare studs and rafters showing. It had, I’m guessing, what was a queen size bed, with old bedding thrown on it. The bedding, we’d take back in with us when we went home, so Granny could wash ‘em back up for us. That’s where me, and Granddaddy slept…together in that old bed.
There were a few 2×6 shelves in the camp that had some coffee, a few canned goods, three or four boxes of them old “strike anywhere” kitchen matches, and always some 6 volt batteries and a headlight or two. There’d be a couple fryin’ pans, two or three pots hanging off some nails, and a few plates with some silverware stacked up on a shelf, with a few cups sitting beside them.
When you first come through the door, off to your right was a picnic table where we’d eat, or just sat and talked. I guess the picnic table could be described as being in “the kitchen,” when eating, and in “the den,” when just talking. It also served to hold the little, two burner, Coleman stove we cooked our meals on.
Now off to the left on a “stand,” was a shelf about waist high, which was about a 2’x2’, with a 2×4, board nailed from the bottom of the shelf to the floor. On it, sat a round white bowl, or basin, which in reality was our bathtub. “To draw” your bathwater, you simply stepped outside on the porch, and pumped whatever water you needed from an old pitcher pump. This is where our drinking water came from too.
There was no electricity either.
I almost forgot…our bathroom. Well this was pretty much anywhere you wanted it to be, though outside of course. We were, I guess what you’d describe “as uptown,” too…we had us an outhouse!
Talking about the outhouse, Mom still today likes to tell a story on me. Evidently, when I was really small, she couldn’t get me to “clean myself,” after using the bathroom. I’d always call for her.
She said Granddaddy had brought me back from the camp and she asked, “Troy, what about Dub and the outhouse, did it get aggravating having to go out there and help him cleanup each time?”
She said he told her, “No Ruth, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Mom told him, “Now Troy, I told you he’d need some help, before you left with him, and you’d agree that wouldn’t be a problem.”
He said, “I know Ruth, and it wasn’t. When he got through the first time or two, he’d holler, Hey Granddaddy, I frewwwww (sounds like threw), and I’d holler back at him, Then Wipe You’re A.., and Come On Back In!”
That problem had been solved, thanks to Granddaddy!
Now, remember back when I said the camp had windows? Actually, they were just framed out like windows, cause you just pushed them open, as they were hung on two hinges at the top. You then propped a board up under them, and that was your window. No glass, no screen, no nothing, just air! But actually, being built up under that Oak Hammock, it stayed fairly comfortable, even in the summertime here in Central Florida.
Now, this made cleaning them “a snap,” simply because there was nothing there to clean, but boy, most of the year, except during the cold months, the skeeters (mosquitos), would tote you off…big ole’ skeeters!
I remember one time, I was 5-6 years old maybe, I woke up out of a deep sleep, I mean I was sawing some logs, but when we laid down at night, we hit the sack! A day spent out in the groves, or picking up palmetto roots (we’ll talk more about that later), would wear you out!
Well, as I said, I had been awakened by what sounded like someone talking. I looked over at Granddaddy, and he was still sleeping. This was pretty easy to tell, as he might snore ever so often, but mainly only from the time he laid down, until he’d get up the next morning.
Once I’d seen Granddaddy was still asleep, I just laid there listenin’ a minute or two, and sure enough, there it was again, somebody talking, but oh so faintly.
Now, for the longest time couldn’t make anything out, but suddenly something moved up there in them rafters! I got to looking hard and all of a sudden…I seen ‘em! There in them rafters stood two of the biggest skeeters I’d ever seen, holding a conversation amongst themselves, and looking down, right at me!
Finally, I could make out what they was a sayin’. One of em turned to the other one, and asked, “You want to eat him here, or take him with us?”
You know, here at the house today, the sun is shining, and there ain’t a cloud in the sky, but I figure now’s as good as time to shutdown “The Camp…Pt. 1,” as any. Even with no clouds in sight, after that tale about them skeeters, I’m gonna quit while I’m still ahead. I’d sure hate for you guys to read about a man in Central Fla. being struck by lightning on a cloudless day!!
Before I knock off though, I’d like to leave you all with just a few thoughts.
To a kid, this was absolute heaven on earth! You know, sitting here this morning describing this to you guys, I can see it now, almost as if I’m there again, me and Granddaddy!
What truly wonderful memories these are, and if you guys can’t look back to times like these in regards to your own youth, you truly have missed out on what I feel God intended for us as children growing up. If this is the case, and I believe it to be, then I’m here to tell you, I am a blessed man!
Thank you guys for coming back to visit with us again, and we’ll see you next time…Ridin’ Out the Recession!
God Bess you guys!