Danger called a couple of days ago to ask if it'd be convenient for a visit today. Of course, as you might expect, was my response. (Glad I wasn't traveling.)
He arrived early enough to have lunch with Bro, Buck, and Granny at Toot's. I'm thinking next time it'll be some decent BBQ, probably Stephenson's or Holt's Lake, if not Smithfield's or Swan's, but we survived, and Toot's is about the last place we can take Granny at this point. Not to worry, someone rearranged the dining rooms, and it took some negotiation to get Granny seated. However, once that was settled, she ate, and even slammed down the large piece of chess pie that I brought her. She giggled when I wondered if she'd remember what to do with this. Oh yeah, it was gone before I turned around.
After we sent everyone home, Danger and I went to Bro's even with Bro at work. I wanted to cruise around the bell tower and museum a little.
We started with the old hen house.
Please note that this is not the hen house Tink tied me to all those many years ago, and also note that I did not tie Danger to this hen house. Even after so much time, it just doesn't seem prudent to tie someone to a hen house and ask them to drag it to the woods. However, I'm sure Tink had his reasons, even if my mother did not understand them.
With the hen house behind us, Danger decided to ring a bell.
Ringing the bells this time of year presents a clear and present danger. Wasps. Not the red ones because they are hard to rile, but the yellow ones because they will eat you up just for the sport. There's also the business of the local constabulary taking exception to unscheduled bell ringing, but that's another matter. In this instance, neither danger presented itself.
Just so you know, the bell tower is forever immortalized, right down to the elevation. Tink and Addie were beside themselves then the federalies came out to install this marker.
This is the house that Tink and Addie built. Bro had lifetime rights to live in it, and I wonder if he could claim that right now, but we'll never know. Besides, it'd cost a fortune to heat and cool that thing now. Insulation didn't exist when it was built, and the foundation is piles of sandstone rocks that you can't see unless you crawl under it. Yes, this is the self same house that Tink offered me 50 cents to crawl under to fetch back a dead cat that was stinking up the kitchen. I wouldn't do it, and he made a production of telling me how the mostly blind fellow down the road had earned that 50 cents with a smile.
If you look closely, you'll see the back steps to the house. This is where Tink said Uncle Lon fell because he was drunk, and the ax he was carrying cut his neck. My mama tells another story, one in which Tink and Lon are arguing, and Tink pushed Lon down the steps. The coroner bought Tink's explanation, probably because Lon was the county drunk.
We called this structure a barn, but Tink and Addie called it a house. Tink was born in that house. It's full of snakes now. The two open spaces are where they parked the car and the truck. Think snakepit.
This pond did not exist when Tink was alive. It was built after all the land was sold out of the family at public auction. Tink was always thinking of the family like that, and he didn't want the corruption of money to burden us. We farmed the field in front of the pond. The pond stands where a large copse of woods once existed. I hunted in those woods, rabbits and squirrels. Tink never did appreciate me shooting his squirrels. He said he liked to watch them play in the trees. What you don't know is that he was blind. The pond and surrounding land now belong to the son of the neighborhood drunk. The boy made good in construction, and he's now on his second wife. The first one cost him a cool million to divorce. Truth.
For the record, Tink's estate settled for some over a million after Addie died. My inheritance was the half bottle of Mennen shaving lotion that Tink had not finished. Bro got a pocket knife, the one with the broken blade.
Out of curiosity, we open the well house. The roof is about rotted, but I lifted it without breaking too much. Danger took this picture. He was taken aback when I told him it was still a working well. During storms when we lost power for days, this is the well we used. A nylon rope and bucket are still there. We did not draw any water.
The electric pump for the well sits just behind the wall. I replaced that pump years ago using knowledge I might have forgotten now. Let's hope, anyway. My mother will tell you that in her opinion, which is not all that humble, the greatest invention in this world is the electric water pump. You spend a week pulling every drop you use out of a well, and you might agree.
For a year, I lived with Bro in Tink and Addie's house. I was teaching Physics and Computer Science at Enloe High School in Raleigh while studying for a Master's in Science Education AND teaching a pair of night classes in the community college. Despite all that, we could not afford the fuel oil to heat the house, and I bought two wood heaters from Lowes and spent my spare time cutting wood. In this next picture, you see the repair that someone did to the chimney after I moved. We needed a better flue, and I cut a hole with a hammer and chisel so we could install a sheet metal flue.
No, we didn't burn the house, but I'm not sure why not. Danger is pointing to the repair job on the chimney.
Tink and Addie's will left some over a quarter million endowment to support the house, bell tower, and museum. They also left a provision whereby the trustees could spend the principle of the trust for necessary repairs. Little or no endowment is left now. I doubt that surprises many people.
I'm glad a little good remains of that part of the world. These day lilies grew in abundance decades ago. Although they still stand and deliver, they do not fill the ditch as they did. Granny did not like these flowers. She called them grave yard lilies. Let's not tell her that this is another point on which we disagree.
At some point, Tink finally died. The neighborhood was devastated. We held his funeral in the Pleasant Grove Primitive Baptist Church. That's right, Primitive. No AC. It was summer. The was one rose on the casket, according to Tink's instructions, which were followed to the letter by Addie, who had said earlier that he looked so stern in the end. There's a running joke in the family quoting that line. Because of the devastation in the neighborhood, only three or four people attended the funeral, outside the family, and the men in the family had carry Tink to his grave. I stumbled going down the steps, and bobbled the casket. I suspect Tink's hat fell off.
Contrast that with my grandmother's funeral in the same building just a very few years earlier. That day, you could not get within a quarter mile of the church because of the people standing shoulder to shoulder wondering just how would this world continue with the loss of a living saint.
Decades earlier, I had been spending time with my grandparents during the summer. They were working under the shelter while I explored the stuff, and I found a marble grave marker. When I asked, they told me of Loa, their first born who had died as an infant. Grandmother had planted a magnolia tree because they couldn't afford a stone. Later, they managed to get a stone, but then the tree grew and pushed it aside.
The tree is now gone, and the marker has returned, sinking into the ground with Loa. I do not know who put it there.
So here I am, a visit from Danger in progress, and I'm dragging him through all this old mess. Why? To punish the boy? No, people need to know their history, both the good and bad, especially the bad given how so many embellish the truth out of reason and proportion. Does it stick? Does it make a difference? I'll let others be the judge of that.
I only offer a single observation. Not a hundred yards from that church, some many years ago, I held Danger's vision quest. During it, a something happened with a buck deer, a something that sounded like a SyFy horror flick. Later, we found the tracks, only to see that said SyFy deer was within a foot of him in the dark.
I caught endless grief for exposing him to that. Leaving him shaken, they said. My only response was that the circle was unbroken. He was, and still is, safe. That kind of talk doesn't fly all that far with white people. And mamas.
Fast forward a whole lot of life.
Check the upper right quadrant as you see it. Antlers. And yes, they are there for a reason. That circle was, and so it remains, unbroken.