did i ever tell you about shiloh church of christ?
i can’t find a picture of shiloh anywhere. one chapel sized room big enough for about 50 people and some side rooms; it looked a lot like this with the cemetery across a gravel road and the same metal archway entrance. while i have no pictures of the actual building the cemetery is still there.
my buddy goyo rode with me to new mexico and on the way i gave him a tour of where i grew up. what the picture doesn’t do is show you the air thick with arkansas mugginess and the mosquitoes.
here lies uncle scrub, known to me as paw paw. along with maw maw.
and here’s what’s left of the house i grew up in most of my life until i was 11.
when i was almost 10 i was carrying my little sister inside a yellow slicker under a heavy rain and slipped in the mud and fell as i was stepping up on the cinder block make shift side porch. i landed on her and her head took the first impact on the edge of the cinder blocks. i’ve felt awful about that for 50 years.
the house was stuck on a gravel road besides this house, my maw maw’s and paw paw’s house; about 50 little kid steps away. my little brother crawled in his night gown once, through the mud, all the way from our house to here:
he always wore a ‘sweet pea’ gown, until he was about 2, and it was all covered in mud. he was so motivated to crawl here because he loved aunt ethel. she lived with maw maw and paw paw my whole life. she was deaf and adored us all, but especially phil. she had her own way of signing and ‘spoke’ in breaths and sometimes stomps; and she was stomping mad no one was watching phil and he’d crawled all the way from our house to her’s. happy to see him, always; but ticked off that no one was watching over him. this is the only picture i can find of aunt ethel:
these two elite residences were home for most of my childhood. the gravel road played host to the trucks and cars of the few neighbors, mostly farming families; and in the summer time the dust thrown up as they hurried by ( i can hear the sound of 60 mph tires on gravel now; funny thing, memories) mixed with sweat on a child’s skin and you’d go inside with muddy clothes on the driest, hottest summer days. several years ago the shack my paw paw lived in, and where my dad was born… he thinks… was torn down. the last time i saw it was around 1974 and i took this picture.
But years later, my biggest shock on the goyo/mango run to new mexico would be that the road is now paved.
but it’s still got the same name. truth is, i never knew it had a name. our mailing address was always rt. 1 clarendon, arkansas. i don’t remember if this sign was ever even there when i lived on that gravel path.
it looked more like this when i was a small child.
but by the time we moved, the cotton was gone; replaced by soybean and rice. irrigation ditches; i’d swim in irrigation ditches. ice cold.
it’s funny to think about where you grew up and then all the places you go. very dr. seuss of me, i know, but from these old houses to shiloh church of christ; i must have ridden a few hundred times down that road; the gravel bouncing off the undercarriage of our cars like water echoing in my head even now. the chevy, the vw, the falcon; ah the 50s and 60s and gravel roads and clear nights where i’d look at the milky way never realizing i’d ever miss it. that little church where i’d learn about jesus and baptism and yet be oblivious to racism for many, many years. to what else was i oblivious? to what else am i oblivious?