Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tell me a Story...

Well, if that don't beat a hen a-pecking...

Just a hoot and a holler down the hill...

The squeaky wheel gets the grease...

If you grew up in the Ozarks you speak this language. You learn it from your parents and your grandparents, it makes sense to you because it's used often. Ozark dialect came with Appalachian settlers, carried to Missouri from the Tennessee and Kentucky hills. These were my people, emigrants from England who first settled in Boston.

My Dad was extremely proud of his family, his heritage mentioned often. His family were hunters who ate what they killed. The deer, squirrels and rabbits taken were used to nourish their bodies during the hard years of the 20's and 30's. He talked about picking persimmons, wild grapes and greens, growing potatoes and even grinding the corn they grew into cornmeal. It was a hard life for his parents, both teachers in the small Peel Arkansas community, they grew tobacco as a cash crop. As lean as times were, he described his life to my brother and me as rich. They had everything they needed and the beauty of the Arkansas hills made for a happy childhood.

Daddy used to tell me stories of his childhood at bedtime. I'd beg him, "Tell me the one about the bull!" He'd laugh and say that I'd heard that one a million times, didn't I want to hear something else? No, no... I wanted to hear about the bull trapping him in a tree after he and Uncle Walton took the shortcut across a neighbors' field. His brother ran like the wind with the bull at his heels. Daddy was younger and his short legs just couldn't keep up, he ended up in the middle of the field with the bull looking straight at him. He was barely 10 but his decision to high tail it up the closest tree was a good one! The scrubby little apple tree offered little protection from that bull, really mad since his domain has been entered. Daddy skinnyed to the top of the tree and the bull repeatedly snorted and butted the tree. I could imagine this all, just how scared I would have been!

The story did have a happy ending, the bull eventually calmed down and walked away... happily munching on grass giving Daddy time to climb down and make his way to the other side of the fence. I'd lay there listening to every word and then think about it a long time after the lights were out. It made a big impression on my little girl brain. About how brave my Dad was and how if I was ever in the middle of a field with a mean bull to look around for a tree to climb. More importantly, I felt safe in  my bed cause I knew my Dad would protect me from the bad things in life. He did, and today on what would have been his 90th birthday I'm remembering him for all the good things that he meant to me and to so many people. Leaving those memories with us makes this a day to celebrate!

“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.” James Arthur Baldwin (American Essayist, Playwright and Novelist, 1924-1987)


  1. That's the kind of things he should be remembered for, Joy...all the GOOD!...:)JP

  2. Our fathers were the same age. My dad would have turned 90 February 6th. I miss my father when I'm watching most New England sports.Which is all the time. You wrote a lovely tribute to your dad.

  3. I love posts like this! What a great picture.

  4. Memories - how they linger. Wonderful post about your sweet daddy.

  5. Love your story. Makes me think of the stories my father told me. Have a great day

  6. cute story. aren't good memories just the best thing in the world? i imagine your father is having a wonderful birthday, not with cake and ice cream, but i'm sure he is happy you are honoring him by your sweet stories your telling of him.

  7. Who of us as parents didn't enjoy trying to find the perfect gifts to delight our children on birthdays and Christmas? But the gifts that really matter are the times we sat down and told them stories ...stories about our own youthful adventures or even stories about that grandparents that we enjoyed hearing when we were kids. My grandmother had wonderful stories and at the urging of my sisters and me, she recorded several cassette tapes full of stories about her own youth and our father's adventures when he was a boy and even about certain adventures we put her through when we were kids. She's been gone over ten years now but her stories will be passed down. I hope they will teach our grandchildren to love hearing and telling stories too.

    Love the background 'music' you chose for this post, Joycee ...songbirds acapella.

    : )

  8. Ahhhh, this one struck a cord with me!

    My people came originally from Tennessee to Christian County Missouri in the 1850's and they did talk the same way.

    I still think of Mom and Dad on their birthdays. Dad's is coming up in April. He would be 97.

  9. I forgot to tell you I absolutely love the new picture. I have some fence that looks just like that!
    Do you have jonquils in bloom already?

  10. Joycee, Wonderful post. Love the daffodils.
    xo, Cheryl


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