A Poem by Kimberly A. Bolton
Let’s drive over to the Nic-Nac Cafe
an’ have us a cuppa coffee;
the fun’ral won’t be fer ‘nother hour er so.
You an’ me ain’t seen each other
in a month-a Sundees,
an’ we can catch up-
talk ‘bout ol’ times.
Durn shame we only get together
Fer weddin’s an’ fun’rals
Like this here.
Time was when folks‘d
Use any excuse to get together-
Box socials, quiltin’ bees,
Thrashin’ dinners at hayin’ time,
Dances at the Cotton Club.
An’ none of us was too busy
to stop an’ visit with the neighbors.
Yep, it shore was hard times back then
Guess we’re the last gen’ration
To ‘member what them days was like:
The run on the banks,
A body losin’ their life’s savins’ overnight,
Losin’ jobs an’ the endless hunt fer ‘nother’n,
Scrimpin’an’ savin’ jus’ to git by.
An’ FDR on the radio tellin’ ever-body
The only thing to be afeared of was fear
Shoot, didn’t none of us have sense enough
to be scairt, we was too busy just gettin’ by.
Yep, we seen it all.
Had to depend on our own-selves
an’ that’s a fact,
livin’ way out there in Cotton like we did.
I guess maybe they’s still a farm er two
left out thataways,
but not like it was, no sirree-bob!
Onliest one to have a car was Ambrys,
the rest of us got ‘round with a horse an’ wagon.
‘Member the hoboes what would
come through on the trains?
Some of ‘em would steal ya blind,
an’ the others downright appreciated
a plate a food er a warm blanket
on a cold night.
Onc’t in a while a body’d run ‘cross
a whole family, kids an’ all,
tryin’ to keep warm in somebody’s barn.
It was a durn shame what the Depression
did to families, ‘specially the kids.
It warn’t no fault of their’n,
just the way things was.
I ‘member this here one time-
dead a winter-
Ol’ Harry found a man an’ his wife
an’ two er three young ‘uns
hold up in that empty house
what was close to their farm.
It was a drafty ol’ place,
fallin’ apart, nobody’d lived in it
an’ here this fam’ly was out in the
middle-a nowhere, no food, nothin’
an’ youngest child still a baby
wrapped in a blanket.
Well, Harry, he took to feelin’ sorry
fer ‘em an’ brung ‘em home.
First thing, Corrie May took that baby,
‘scairt it’d done froze to death,
but thank the good Lord it was still a-breathin’.
Never did learn what happened to
that fam’ly after,
just up an’ moved on, I guess.
No hospitals close by neither;
Nary even a doctor ‘round them parts;
closest doc was over to the next county.
Folks took care-a their own at home
in them days-
‘member when lil Norma Jean got the polio?
She was still a baby what had just
learned to crawl when Corrie May noticed
she was draggin’ that leg behind her
like dead weight.
Nearly scairt us all to death, right then an’ there.
Somebody ran to Ambry’s to call the doc;
Ambry’s was the onliest ones to have a
telephone, too, at that time.
Doc said stick that baby in a pan-a
warm water an’ keep workin’
the stiff outta that leg.
After she was growed, Norma Jean’s
leg ended up bein’ a lil shorter
than t’ othern, but leastways
she wasn’t crippled like some-a
the kids what come down with it
er put in a iron lung like some-a them
poor lil fellers.
an’ then the flu epidemic hit the very
next winter- if that wasn’t terrible.
Lotta good folks pushin’ up daisies
in the cemetery over to Cotton
On account-a that flu.
Yep, it was hard times.
A wonder we survived it all.
Gave us plenty-a backbone tho’
to look life square in the face.
If’n you sunk down to the bottom-a
the barrel, an’ a lotta folks did,
you just pulled yerself up by yer
bootstraps an’ got on with it.
But there was good times, too;
We was so pore we had to make
Our own fun-
Not like it is nowadays with all them
Computers an’ video games an’ such.
Time to be leavin’ a’ready?
Feels like we just sit down,
An’ here my coffee’s gone cold in the cup.
But I reckon we better head on over
to the fun’ral parlor,
See the folks an’ pay our respects.
Shore is a durn shame
We don’t git together more
Like we used to.