My grandfather on my mother’s side built himself a house in El Dorado, Arkansas.
Walked away from his job with Lion Oil and became a farmer. He was not a farmer by trade or training. His father was a lawyer in Chicago at the turn of the twentieth century, a successful Irish immigrant, who passed while my Grandad was young. According to his draft registration card, in 1916 he was selling sporting goods in a store in Chicago and was the bread winner for the family. He went off to war, we’re told, and never went back to home.
Instead he barnstormed, we’re told, around for a while and settled in the oil business and then, like I mentioned, he left and became a farmer.
I’ll write about all of that other stuff at some future time. Right now, I’m looking at a photo thinking about that house and all the land around it.
By the time I knew it as a boy, the land was grown over with pines. Grandaddy was fading fast mentally and I was too young to ask the right questions.
So, I’m looking at this photo of a yard that I remember well, an old concrete birdbath in the foreground and a giant Magnolia tree in the distance. I remember summer there. I remember the tree. Running around the yard. Getting to drive/ride on the riding mower.
Sitting on top of the corrugated metal roof of the workshop shed rolling rocks down and watching them land on the gravel circular drive.
The screen door to the kitchen where there was a coca-cola bottle opener on the wall by the door and can opener mounted on another wall. Playing in the back room and pretending the floor was lava.
The window unit air conditioner whirring away. The piano we didn’t play. The table grandaddy made. The workshop that was too scary to go into. The ant lions in the sand outside the workshop doorway.
Sulfur on our shoes to keep the aforementioned ticks away. Tweezers and the hot end of burnt out matches cooking those ticks that made it past the sulfur off of our sunburnt skin. I remember summer and the sights, sounds and smells are burned into my memory.
Hot and glorious summers.
I do not for the life of me remember the scene I am seeing.