Reatha Johns Albury
Florida, was a sleepy, little community in the 1940's. It consisted
of a few farm families who raised cattle and some people who traveled
the nearly thirty miles to work in Dade City. There were two churches,
the Baptist Church and the Non-denominational Church; and the one-room
Road and Highway 52, which was five or six miles from the main part
of the community, there was a very small general store. Darby Road
was a wide graded road that had it's beginning at Highway 52, and
ran north about ten miles, crossing over a creek which had a bridge
unlike any I had seen before. On top of the boards were planks laid
like tracks, and one had to keep the vehicle on the planks. The
Non-denominational church stood on the northwest corner of the first
road to connect with Darby Road. A little farther, Miller Road to
the east and Bellamy Road to the west intersected with Darby Road.
school house stood on the southeast corner of Miller Road and Darby
Road. The Sessums lived across the road from the school. The other
two corners of this intersection were open fields which were bounded
by wooded areas some distance to the north. The property on the
northwest corner was inhabited by long horned cows that we called
woods cows. Ernest Croft Road was about one mile north of the school
house on Darby Road and ran to the west from it's intersection.
The Baptist Church was on past Ernest Croft Road and almost to the
end of Darby Road. We took Ernest Croft Road from Darby Road to
go to the farm.
lives centered around the farm, the school and the Non-denominational
Church. As a ten year old, as far as I was concerned, Darby had
everything a kid needed to make her happy and fulfilled. It was
a wonderful place to live.
we were nearing the end of the long, hot drive from Tampa. As we
turned off of Darby Road onto Ernest Croft Road, we sensed we were
nearing our destination. All of us were filled with anticipation
as we drove the mile or so down the dirt road and around the curve.
Kids love to move to a new place, whether the parents do or not.
The large farmhouse was at the very end of the road, set back and
enclosed in a fence.
As soon as Daddy drove through the gate and stopped the truck, we
all scrambled out and began to explore our new home. There at the
pasture fence was Jenny the mule, watching all this commotion. If
she could have foreseen what was in store for her with those kids,
she would have run away that very day. I had no idea of the adventures
that awaited us in these sixty acres of playground. Being elementary
school age, we were so happy there as we were free to be kids, and
there were so many fun,interesting things to do on the farm and
in the surrounding woods.
grandmother, Nellie Burdett, had bought the farm a few years earlier.
She had lived there for a while, but was now living in north Florida,
so she let my mom and dad move our family there. I doubt she ever
knew, but this was the best present she could have given to us.
you entered the farmhouse you went through one end of the screened
porch which went all the way across the front of the house. Farm
houses in those days were built narrow across the front and deep.
In Florida they were built three or four feet off of the ground
so air could get underneath to keep the house cooler.
rug loom was on the front porch next to the wall of the house. We
were instructed never to touch the loom. There was another screened
porch which was on the west side of the house, and ran nearly the
depth of the house with the kitchen at end of that porch. Leaving
the front porch, you entered the large living-dining room which
had a fireplace at one end. On the other side and across the back
of the house were the bedrooms. With the living-dining room being
completely surrounded by rooms or porches, it was a very dark room.
The kerosene lamps sat on the mantle waiting to
be lit in the evening.
the large kitchen was a wood stove with a water closet on one side
so dish water could heat while the meal was being cooked. There
was a table where biscuits or cornbread could be stirred and other
dishes put together. Alongside that was a cabinet for storing groceries.
There was always a bucket of water for use in the kitchen.
from the house about fifteen feet to the southwest was a large,
deep well. It had a four foot high wall around it with a support
over the top from which the bucket hung from a rope which went over
a pulley. There was always cold, refreshing water about twenty-five
feet down in the well. Sometimes Mama would put the milk and butter
in the bucket and lower it into the water to keep it fresh.
farmhouse, with the screened porches, was just what was needed for
our large family. But the enchanted places for us were the places
where we played and found outlets for our imaginations. These were
the large yard, barnlot with a two story barn, the pasture, the
woods and the fishing holes. It didn't take long for us to begin
to explore the farm. Going out to the barnlot, we started with the
barn and loft. There were various tools in there, and Grandma had
a large box of rags stored which she used in making her rugs. It
also had a shed roof on the south side with a feed trough for the
mule and a bridle and traces hanging on the wall. This was Jenny's
place. What fun she was to provide for us in the days to come.
Jenny, she always got caught and had to tolerate us kids playing
with her. If one of us girls wanted to ride the mule, one of the
boys would lead her under the grapefruit tree where we waited on
the lowest limb, and then we would drop down on her back. Sometimes,
two or three of us would get on her back and ride her around the
yard or barnlot. When she got tired of it, she would turn her head
and try to bite our legs. It didn't take her long to decide she
didn't like all this nonsense. Mules are not just dumb, stupid animals.
Jenny sensed when we were out to get her, and she would make us
chase her around the large pasture to the east of the house before
she would finally stop and let one of the boys come up to her and
put the bridle on. One time Jim and I went out to catch her, and
she ran to the far end of the pasture before we got close to her.As
Jim started towards her to put the bridle on, Jenny backed up, raised
her head high in the air, very agitated and making a mule noise.
that time, Jim spotted a large rattlesnake by the fence. He told
me to climb up and sit on the fence post and watch the snake until
he could go to Uncle Ernest's house and get his gun. Uncle Ernest,
who married Aunt Billie, lived three quarters of a mile to a mile
from the farm. As I sat on the post with my eye on the snake, Jim
ran to Uncle Ernest's house and came back with the gun. He shot
and killed the rattler.
times, we would put the bridle and traces on the mule and hook the
sled to the traces so we could go riding through the woods. One
of the boys would grab the reins, hit her back with them, and off
we would go.We would either stand, doing our best to keep our balance,
or sit on the flat sled. The mule and sled were also used to gather
firewood for the stove and fireplace.
we ventured across the pasture to the fishing hole which we named
the Sinkhole because that's what the boys told us it was. It must
have been a spring as it was very deep and the water was clear and
cold. We were cautioned not to go in the water of the Sinkhole.
I never swam in the Sinkhole, however, I did wade in it close to
the edge a few times. All of us did a lot of fishing there. I remember
catching my very first fish in the Sinkhole. I was so proud and
Daddy said it was a warmouth perch. The fish we caught in the Sinkhole
was the main dish for many a supper.
another fence and through the woods there was a large pond. We spent
many hot days cooling off by swimming in the pond. I remember one
day several of us decided to go to the pond for a swim. We trudged
down the path through the thick woods, and as we neared the pond
we heard a noise like a car straining to free itself from being
stuck. That seemed strange, as the only way we knew to get back
there was to go through the front gate, then Jenny's pasture, and
take the path through the woods. And we thought the woods back there
went on forever. When we got beyond the trees, we saw a car spinning
and struggling to move a small trailer back and forth near the pond.
We were indignant! Who would be sneaking a trailer on Grandma's
farm, we wondered? The nerve of them. Didn't they know this property
belonged to someone? Well, we were going to inform them that this
was Grandma's property, or at least the boys were. We stood there
watching as this trespasser attempted to spot the trailer. When
all the commotion finally stopped and the intruder got out of the
car, we were stunned to see who it was. After the initial shock,
we walked up and said, "Hi, Aunt Billie. What'cha doin?"
She swore us to secrecy as she did not want Uncle Ernest to know
where she was. I guess she thought no one would go way back there,
but this was one of our favorite places to play.
when Grandma came for a visit, she and Mama were sitting at the
dining room table talking with all the kids gathered around them
listening. Mama told Jim to go do a chore, but he didn't move. She
interrupted the conversation several times to tell him to go do
this job. Finally, he started to get up to leave, but turned and
said, "Now, don't you all say anything until I get back."
I remember watching Grandma eat celery with her front teeth like
day arrived for all of us to go to Darby School and enroll. That
is all of us with the exception of Mart the oldest. He had to ride
a bus into Dade City to school. The rest of us attended the one-room
school house, which still stands on the corner of Darby Road (now
Bellamy Brothers Boulevard) and Miller Road. Mrs. Daisy B. Miller
was the teacher, and she taught six grades. When our family arrived
the size of the school increased dramatically. There were six of
us going to the one-room school, and I believe the total student
population was between twenty and twenty four. Some grades had only
Miller was a wonder, and I name her among my favorite teachers.
Not only did she teach all six grades, but she walked to school,
got there early on cold days, filled the woodstove with wood and
had a good fire going so the room would be warm for us. If the weather
was hot, the windows on both sides of the schoolroom were opened
to catch a breeze.
of us took a bag lunch, including Mrs. Miller. At lunch time, she
would sit on the top step of the front porch and talk with us as
we ate our lunch. I remember sitting beside her on the step as she
inquired of me and some of my brothers and sisters about Aunt Billie,
where she was and what she was doing. This was before Aunt Billie
married Uncle Ernest. Later, as we walked home, we laughed about
her concern for Aunt Billie. We decided the reason for her interest
was that she had an unmarried son just about Aunt Billie's age.
don't know how she ever taught all those different grades the things
we needed to learn. Reading, math, spelling, geography, history.
But she had a system. While she had one grade up front working with
them, the rest of us had work to do at our seats, and we had better
be busy doing it, with no talking. Some were to copy assignments
from the board, as others read from their books.
the best of my memory, there were five or six kids in my grade.
I remember one time when my class was on the bench up front being
questioned about a geography assignment we were supposed to have
read, another student and I could not answer any of the questions.
She came down hard on us for not doing our work. I continued to
protest that I had read the assigned pages. "Then why aren't
you able to answer the questions?" she wanted to know. I couldn't
explain it, as a certain nervous anxiety filled my stomach. Finally,
she told me to bring my book and let her look at it. When she did,
she discovered that the pages in my book and the other student's
did not correspond with the pages of the other children's books.
I still have nightmares of taking tests with no earthly idea of
what the material I am being tested on is about.
Mrs. Miller did not put up with foolishness. One time out of frustration
I muttered "confound it". She heard it and used it as
an example to teach us not to use that kind of language. She wrote
the word on the board, saying, "I don't even know how to spell
it." Then I had to write one hundred times, "I will not
say confound it." To this day, I do not understand what was
so bad about saying confound it. Ever
so often, Mrs. Miller would gather all of us around the piano to
sing hymns as she played. I remember hearing "Send the Light"
for the first time at one of these singing sessions. However, there
was one time she was not too happy with hymn singing. But that is
for a later.
school health nurse would visit the school from time to time to
give the kids immunization shots. We dreaded to see her come, but
there was one poor, frail, little blond girl who couldn't face it.
Every time the school nurse came and began giving shots, she would
pass out, whether she was to get a shot that day or not.
was a period of time that year that Mrs. Miller missed several days
of school because her husband was in the Veteran's Hospital in Bay
Pines. Substitute teachers were rare in those parts during the 1940's.
Mrs. Sessums, who lived across the road from the school, filled
in for Mrs. Miller. Poor Mrs. Sessums, she was a soft spoken, sweet
woman, who could not control that bunch of kids. Some of the boys
got into a fight on more than one occasion while she was substituting.
No such thing happened when Mrs.Miller was there. She put the fear
of Mrs. Miller in all of us, even the larger boys.
Which brings to mind another incident that happened at the school.
We were instructed to never, ever go outside of the fence which
surrounded the school yard until it was time to go home. One day,
Gerry, who was in the first or second grade, got a bee in her bonnet
over something Mrs. Miller said to her, and out the gate she went.
Several times Mrs. Miller called, "Geraldine Johns you come
back here!" Gerry just kept on going down the hot, sun drenched
road, giving no indication that she heard Mrs. Miller. I feared
I was going to get Gerry's switching because she would not mind.
Gerry walked on home, which was nearly two miles.
At recess and after eating our lunch, we played outside in the school
yard. One game I remember playing was "Olie, olie, over."
There were two teams, one on each side of the school house. One
of the kids would throw the ball over the school house, yelling,
"Olie, olie, over", then everybody would start running
and try to get to the other side without being tagged by a member
of the other team. One time while we were outside playing I was
in line at the water fountain when a boy pushed in front of me and
began drinking water. So I did what any normal kid would do, I pushed
him, and as luck (bad) would have it, his lip hit the fountain and
began to bleed. Before long, Mrs. Miller became involved, and after
some questioning, determined what I had done. The punishment was
a good switching on the legs. Later after we had gone back inside,
the girl in the row next to me noticed that my leg was bleeding.
"Reatha's leg is bleeding," she reported to Mrs. Miller.
This is the only time I remember a somewhat defensive Mrs. Miller.
She rather sheepishly pointed out that I had a sore on my leg and
that was why it was bleeding.
I'm sure it must have been a spring day when one's fancy turns to
things of the heart. I had finished my work, and searching for something
to fill the time I decided to write a letter to a boy in the class
named Robert Sessums. I had had a crush on him for some time, although
he was probably not aware of it. I poured out my heart, writing
down all the feelings one of my age could have for someone who appeared
so good looking. Feeling safe as Mrs. Miller was busy up front with
another class, I was completely engrossed with the project. Throwing
caution to the wind I wrote with abandon of my love for him. This
was out of character for me as I was kind of shy. However, there
was a reason I wrote with such freedom of expression. I signed Lucy
Mae Peterson's name to the letter. Now Lucy Mae Peterson was even
shyer than me. Never able to put much over on Mrs. Miller, somehow
she got wind of the letter, called my name, and told me to bring
it to her. Startled and with a sinking feeling in the pit of my
stomach, I slowly made my way to her desk and handed her the letter.
She quickly scanned it and then stated that she was going to read
it out to the class.
was mortified! How could I endure such humiliation?
To have my feelings laid bare for all to see? As she began to read,
I could feel the blood rush to my cheeks and I turned weak as I
wanted to sink through the floor. When finally the slow torture
ended, she began to lecture the girl whose name I had put at the
bottom. Saying something about a girl her age writing such a letter.
I just sat there letting Lucy Mae take the tongue lashing, thankful
I had escaped. But then to my horror, she began to protest vehemently
that she had not written the letter. Mrs. Miller did not believe
her, saying, "Your name is signed to it." "But, I
didn't write it!" she declared. "Well, then who did?"
Mrs. Miller wanted to know. "I don't know, but I didn't do
it." she replied. There are always those helpful little tattletales
who delight in ratting on others. "Reatha did," she said
with great satisfaction. One thing you never wanted to experience
was the wrath of Mrs. Miller. She reprimanded me not only for writing
such a letter, but then to have the audacity to sign someone else's
name! She went on and on, which seemed like forever, saying something
about how you could go to jail for doing such a thing. Put the fear
in me! I could just see myself languishing in jail forever, thinking
about the awful thing I had done. From that horrible experience,
I learned that if you write it, someone will read it. I don't believe
I have signed someone else's name to anything since that dreadful
One day Mrs. Miller had an announcement. We all perked up, intent
on hearing what she was saying. That afternoon if we finished all
our work, we were going to the field across the road and have an
Easter egg hunt. Oh, great, we could hardly wait for the time to
go for the egg hunt. Some of the women in the community had colored
and hid a lot of eggs and baked some goodies for us. Finally, it
was time and we all marched in line across the road and hunted for
the colorful eggs in the tall grass. This was so much fun, the most
we had had in a long time. Finally, the end of the school year was
near and we were going on a field trip. The bus came and loaded
all of us on it and we made what seemed like a long ride.We came
to a park which had a lake and a swimming pool. The water was clear
and cool in the pool, not like the water in the ponds. We had a
great time swimming and then had a picnic lunch. I have no idea
who provided the lunch, but it was great. After a while we were
allowed to swim some more, then it was time for the long bus ride
back to the school.
COME TO VISIT
was a rare occasion for us to have company as we lived so far out.
One day we heard the sound of a car coming down the road, which
was unusual. Several of us kids gathered by the front fence, peering
down the road, trying to figure out who was coming. We waited with
anticipation for the car to come into the yard. When we saw that
it was Aunt Isabelle and Uncle Dolphus, along with their kids, we
were filled with excitement.
never lacked for someone to play with as we always had a brother
or sister, but to have company, now that was special. As the adults
went into the house, the cousins stood around talking with each
other. We had a lot to tell these cousins of all there was on the
farm that was so much fun.
we had eaten lunch and the grown-ups sat down to catch up on all
the news, several of the older kids decided to go out in the woods
to explore and show off. As we were standing around bragging about
all the things we had on the farm, one of our city cousins decided
he couldn't let all this bragging go on without a challenge. Curtis
took out a plug of Uncle Dolphus' tobacco he had conveniently borrowed
for just such a time. He shared the tobacco with the boys, and they
stood around chewing and spitting, trying to look worldly wise.
Finally, I decided I should try some so I could look that way too.
Curtis, happy to oblige, tore off a piece and handed it to me. I
put it in my mouth, trying to hide how bad it tasted and how it
was burning the inside of my mouth. I chewed it for a few minutes,
spitting along with the boys. But then I began to feel sick. I became
so weak that I had to lie down under a tree until the rest of the
kids were ready to go home. To get enough strength to walk home,
the boys pulled some palmetto fronds and had me eat the tender ends.
I have never had any desire to chew tobacco since. Although I did
share some rabbit tobacco cigarettes with the boys from time to
SEVEN "THE CHURCH"
were special as we all got dressed up with the best we had and went
to church. It was a small non-denominational church and Brother
Myers was the pastor. Grandma thought a lot of Brother Myers. He
worked in Dade City, as did she, and he gave her a ride to and from
work. He had to go a considerable distance out of his way to pick
her up and take her home.
At church, we sang songs, listened to him preach and did a little
socializing. Once when Grandma went to church with us, I remember
watching her doze off and start snoring while Brother Myers was
preaching. I thought it quite funny at the time, but now I understand.
One time as the congregation was singing, I sang out with gusto.
Brother Myers took note of it, bragging on me, he asked if I wanted
to come up and lead the second verse. I agreed, and up I went to
the front of the church. The piano began to play and early into
the verse, I came upon the longest, most difficult word I had ever
encountered, and I stumbled all over it. I think it was something
like, "consternation". I was embarrassed, but Brother
Myers tried to smooth it over by commenting, "Even adults have
trouble with that word."
Excitement rippled through the kids in the congregation that Sunday
as we heard Brother Myers announce that we were going to have a
revival. We worked like beavers, cleaning up the church yard. The
next Sunday morning as we came to church we were all filled with
eager anticipation to see what this preacher would be like. We were
not disappointed. He was a great big guy with a young, pretty wife,
and he played the guitar for special songs they sang. They liked
kids and paid attention to all of us. There names were Jimmy and
Nancy Portwood. We did not want to miss one night of the revival
after that first Sunday.
Another thing that delighted us with Jimmy Portwood was he brought
loud speakers and mounted them out by the road facing in both directions.
He wanted the neighbors to hear the singing and preaching, hoping
they would come to see what was going on. Well, this did not set
well with Mrs. Miller. At school she let her opinion be known, especially
to those who attended the Non-denominational Church. She did not
think that loud singing going out all over the neighborhood was
a good idea at all. It must have been loud if she could hear it
all the way to her house, as it was a good distance from the church.
But as kids, we thought it was great. Were we excited!!.
during the services that week, Brother Myers announced that next
Sunday we were going to have dinner on the grounds after the morning
service. That Sunday morning as Brother Jimmy Portwood preached,
I must confess that I do not think our thoughts were always where
they should have been. Sometimes we delighted ourselves with visions
of all that good food, the fun of eating outside, and playing. And
we were not disappointed. After the service, we could hardly wait
for all the food to be put out on tables under the huge oak trees.
Finally, the blessing was asked, and we began to eat. Wonderful
fried chicken, cakes, potato salad and other delicious food, but
the one I remember best of all was the banana pudding. And the good
thing was we could eat as much as we wanted. (The picture taken
of the people of Darby was at that dinner on the grounds.
EIGHT - WONDERFUL DAYS OF SUMMER
long, hot summer days were made for fishing in the sinkhole or swimming
in the pond. We would go out in the backyard and dig a few worms,
or go out in the pasture and catch grasshoppers. Get a sturdy limb,
tie some twine to it, attach a hook, and we were set for hours of
pure pleasure. The sinkhole had an endless supply of brim or perch.
I learned to scale the perch and brim and skin the catfish as good
as any of the boys.
times, we hitched up the mule and went for rides in the woods. If
we were able to come up with a few cents, we walked the more than
five miles down the long graded road to the store to buy cold drinks
and perhaps some candy.
who had a lifelong love of airplanes also had a very inquisitive
and imaginative mind. When he could get enough money he would buy
a model airplane, spend all the time to put it together, then set
it on fire to watch it burn as it headed for the ground. That summer
he decided to build a real airplane. Every waking minute, he was
out in the barnyard working on the airplane. He used whatever materials
he found on the farm to build it with. When I wrote of this in the
1980's Mart gave me this list of the materials he used. He used
a two-by-four for the fuselage, plywood for the tail section, and
some leather straps he found in the barn for hinges for control.
He found some barrel staves and used them for wing ribs, and the
front and rear spars were made out of a piece of one-by-four covered
with tar paper. Not having any wheels, he took two barrel staves
and made runners. Virginia's chalk board became the seat, which
she said really upset her when she found out. For control cables,
he used some twine from Grandma's rug loom. He said he secured everything
with nails and if the nails would not hold, he tied it together
with some of the twine.
had decided to use Daddy's old 1936, four cylinder, International
truck to pull it with to get it airborne. One day when Mart was
gone, Jim and Bill decided to test fly the airplane. They thought
better of using Daddy's truck to pull it with, instead opting for
the mule. All of us ran out to the barnlot where the airplane had
been built to witness this event.
boys caught the mule, put on the bridle and traces, backed her up
to the airplane and attached the traces to it. One of them held
the mule by her halter and opened the gate while the other one slapped
her on the rump. This startled the mule and she lunged forward through
the gate, airplane in tow. As it started through the gate, both
wings caught on the gateposts, and as the mule tried to keep going,
the airplane folded in a heap.
We all stood there in shock, then doubled over with laughter at
the sight. When the reality of having to face Mart began to sink
in, there was a lengthy discussion of what story to tell. Later,
Mart said he realized that God had stepped in. He said if he had
been in that airplane with one of the boys pulling it with Daddy's
truck, it would in all probability have torn apart. The tar paper
would not have withstood the force of the wind and the plane would
have flipped over and over, and no telling what would have happened
to him. I have become convinced that God has intervened in the lives
of many little boys.
had to fill the long, hot summer days either with fishing, swimming
or inventions of our making. Jim and I discovered a large pile of
bricks out from the yard in the pasture. At one time there had been
a syrup mill there, but it had long since fallen down. Jim and I
decided to build a little city using the bricks. We played for days,
building little houses and roads and using our imagination to give
life to this little city. We talked about how hundreds of years
later, people would dig up this city and wonder about the little
people who lived there.
day Mama told all of us that we were going on a picnic. We thought
this was great that she was going with us. We swam many days, but
just us kids. She packed some sandwiches, and we walked to one of
the ponds on Uncle Ernest's place. It was some distance from his
house, but was a beautiful place, with some shade trees and grass.
It also had some marshy areas, with tall grass and weeds. We swam,
ate and rested on a blanket for a good part of the day. Before evening
I realized I had a good case of redbugs. My stomach, thighs, the
backs of my knees were covered with red, itchy places. I had so
many redbug bites that I had a fever from them.
NINE - AUNT BILLIE, LEAVING THE FARM & THONOTOSASSA
time after we moved on the farm, Aunt Billie married Uncle Ernest
Croft. They were our closest neighbor, which was about three quarters
to a mile away. As we lived at the very end of the road, we passed
their house twice every day on our way to and from school.
time, Aunt Billie took several of us kids and went to Highway 52
and Highway 41, which was called Gowers Corner. I do not remember
there being any particular reason for us to go. However, by the
time we started home, it was dark, I mean really dark. There was
nothing, no buildings, no people, on Highway 52 all the way from
Gowers Corner to Darby Road, which was about ten miles.
started down Highway 52 towards Darby Road, and after having gone
a little ways, the car sputtered and stopped. No amount of twisting
the starter, praying or anything else would get that car to start.
We all got out and began to discuss what we should do. Aunt Billie
suggested that some of us stay with the car, and she and some of
the others would walk to Darby Road where the small store was. As
she talked with us, trying to decide who would stay and who would
walk, she found it an impossible decision. The night was pitch black,
there were no lights for miles. If she stayed, all of us wanted
to stay. If she went, all of us wanted to go.It
was finally decided that all of us would walk to the store, which
I'm sure was already closed. Anyway, the whole bunch of us struck
out walking and talking, but staying just as close to Aunt Billie
as we could.
day I went to see Aunt Billie. She was baking a cake. As I watched,
and we talked, she said it was easy to bake a cake. I showed an
interest, so after she got it into the oven, she wrote the recipe
down for me. Some time later, I went into the kitchen at the farm
and saw that Mama had started a fire in the woodstove to cook supper.
I found the listed ingredients, put a cake together and put it into
the oven. I watched it, and when it looked good and brown, I took
it out. Later when we cut it to eat, we found that the outside was
done, but not the inside. I never have figured out how they were
able to regulate the temperature on a woodstove to cook cakes.
next school year, I went to stay with an aunt and uncle in Green
Cove Springs and went to school there. I stayed until sometime in
January. One day Aunt Ida told me that they were going to take me
home. I liked staying with Aunt Ida, Uncle Rynsey, and cousin Mariam,
but I did get home sick and welcomed the news. Shortly thereafter,
I got my transfer papers from the school, put my things in the back
of the truck, and we started on the long trip to Darby. After riding
for hours, I recognized that we were nearing Darby. We turned on
Darby Road and drove the five or six miles to the school.
you ever heard of the kid who goes off for a while and when he comes
home, finds his family has moved away? It seems the family had moved
from the farm while I was gone, a fact I was unaware of, and my
aunt and cousin were not sure where the new house was. So we went
to the school to ask some of the other kids. Mrs. Miller, sensing
this was an important event, let the rest of the kids out of school
early so they could go home and visit with the company. We turned
around and went back towards Highway 52, past the Non-denominational
Church for a mile or so to the new place where the family lived.
I was very glad to be home, and had fun at the new place, but it
was not the same as the farm.
had to take the long bus ride into Dade City to go to school so
had to leave for school earlier than the rest of us. I remember
one time he skipped school. As the rest of us were walking down
Darby Road to school, we spotted him some distance off the road
in the bushes. We sang out, "We see you, Mart.We're going to
tell on you." It was hard for any of us to get away with anything
as there was always someone around to catch us. During the summer
after the end of the school year, we moved from Darby to Thonotosassa.
I remember Daddy took the boys to Thonotosassa before the family
actually moved and had them plant peas. By the time we moved, it
was apparent what they had done. The pea bushes were in thick clumps
throughout the field. To get through with planting, they had put
many more peas in each spot than was necessary. My fond memories
of living in Darby have remained with me all these years.
my fact about the first grade is incorrect, change it.....People
remember best the immediate circumstances in which they were involved.Do
you remember which grades had two students?....It seems to me there
were two grades with only two students....If mine had five and yours
had five, that is nearly half the student population.
only older student I can recall was Gorden Peterson, who was tall
and lean. Maybe there were only a couple of students in Jim's and
Bill's grade....Seems like Ruth Bellamy went into Dade City, but
she may have gone with us....
keep remembering a few minor details that I left out; one was that
Ethel McKendrick drove to church with her new baby on one shoulder.
The reason I remember it is, Mama commented on it. Also, it seems
when I watched Aunt Billie making the cake, she was in the trailer
which by that time had been moved near the Croft house. And when
we had the revival and dinner on the ground, it seems that is when
the retarded girl came to church with her mother. Seems I heard
later that her mother died and we wondered what would become of
her. They lived just south of the church....Do you remember her?
I also left out the Onxy Hole (Onyx Myers, daughter of the preacher),
but I believe she ran into the hole at the corner of Darby Road
and Ernest Croft road while I was in Green Cove Springs....and I
just heard about it....Maybe some of the rest of you can give the
details of that.......Going to a small church now, it seems to me
the Myers must have done all the cleaning and mowing, raking for
the church....It was always done, never thought about who did it....I
do seem to remember using the funeral home fans to cool ourselves......Oh,
Well, I have enjoyed reliving all the good times I had at Darby.
I do not have any other pictures from Darby......My distances and
proportions are not always accurate....I now think the distance
from the farm to Uncle Ernest's house was only about one-half mile.....It
is in the mule & rattlesnake story, if you care to change it.....Of
course Jim had to run all the way across the pasture too, which
was some distance.....The reason I don't think it was more than
one-half mile is we lived just under two miles from the school,
and it was a pretty good distance to the school once we got on Darby
Road..........I don't remember telling Dylan that story when I was
first writing it, but I must have as he has mentioned it several
times....Maybe I can get the school picture taken in Green Cove
Springs sent before you get to that part of the story.......it is
near the end.......RA.