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Memories old and new

Laugh Tracks in the Dust
Milo Yield
Damphewmore Acres, Kan.

This past week has been one with wisps of nostalgia mixed in. It started on the Sunday before Memorial Day when ol’ Nevah and I drove back to the old stomping grounds of our youth — in and around Moran and Bronson, Kan. — to decorate family graves.

We took a route down there we usually don’t take. We went east to Ottawa, then south through Princeton, Richmond, Garnett, ending up at Moran. By taking that route, we discovered that Kansas is re-doing Hwy. 59 into what we guessed was a super-two highway. When finished, it will be a big improvement.

After decorating the final resting spots of our parents and other relatives, we spent a little time browsing through the Moran Cemetery. Sadly, we spotted the 2019 grave of a female classmate of mine. I think she is the first of the girls in our class of 1960 to go. Then in another row of gravestones we spotted the 2019 burial site of a student one year older than me. For sure, time marches on.

From Moran, we drove by the old homestead where I lived during my high school and college days. The trees in the front yard are huge and I recalled fondly how I planted those trees from bare-root seedlings left over from planting a windbreak.

While novelist Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again.” He wuz wrong. You can. However, he wuz correct in the sense that old home places do not look the same as you remember them. The main thing that changes with time are the trees keep growing and that changes the look of every place.

Before we left the old stomping grounds, we stopped at the Bronson Cemetery and found the gravestones of some of my favorite neighbors when I wuz a kid and young man. It brought back many fond memories.

We left Bronson headed north on Hwy. 3 and drove past the site of the old Limestone Ridge one-room school house where I once played softball on a visiting team from the North Fairview one-room school, which we passed a few miles north. Both old schools have been razed and are nuthin’ but empty pastures and childhood memories.

Just a couple miles further north, we drove pass what used to be the driveway to a ramshackle farmstead where we lived during my seventh grade. The driveway is now only a field entrance and is posted for no trespassing. When we drove over the Osage River, I recalled the drought of 1955 and how my parents and a passel of neighbors seined fish from the holes that weren’t dry and our moms canned the fish for us to eat that winter.

When we arrived at Kincaid, we drove into town and past the old schoolhouse where I played basketball a few times during my school years. I wuz surprised at how many folks still call Kincaid home because it’s close to 20 miles to any county seat town.

As we went west through Colony and headed toward LeRoy, we could see that we were headed into a nasty-looking thunderstorm. So, we decided to try and outflank the storm by heading north through the little town of Aliceville. I’d never been to Aliceville before, but I can’t say that anymore. So, I made a new memory.

That little blacktop went past the Wolf Creek nuclear power plant and we ended back on Hwy. 75 at New Strawn. We headed north to BETO Junction and we did outrun the worst of the thunderstorm — driving only through sprinkles.

It wuz a fun little trip — mixing fond memories with melancholy nostalgia.

•••

My second taste of nostalgia last week tasted like fish. All the crappie in my pond are small and the bullhead catfish are large for their species. Well, both were biting one evening and I got eight crappies and four bullheads.

But, rather than fillet the crappies, I scaled them and filleted the bullheads.

Then I invited my good friend Mocephus down to Damphewmore Acres for an old-fashioned fish fry where you carefully pick the bones clean or choke on them — just like Mo and I did when we were young lads.

We both enjoyed the meal, with good conversation as an appealing side dish.

•••

I got everything I wanted planted in the garden one day last week and it rained some almost every day since. All the seeds have sprouted except the sweet corn.

Now if we can keep dodging the nasty storms that have gone both north and south of us lately, I might get some fresh garden veggies this summer.

•••

My friend Willie Jay at Mt. Vernon, Mo., emailed me and said he needed a place to stay. I asked him if he’d been driven from his home by a storm.

He replied, “Nope, Milo. My wife asked me if she could have a little peace and quiet while she cooked supper. I said, ‘Yes, dear,’ and went over and turned off the smoke alarm. Now you know why I need a place to stay.”

•••

Overheard while social distancing: “I scraped the ‘My Child’s an A Student’ sticker off the bumper of my car.”

•••

If after the lockdown, you are given your choice of a dream vacation with your wife and family or a BBQ with your friends, which would you choose? Medium rare, rare, or well done.”

I’d pick “medium rare.” And those two little words are this week’s wise ones. ❖



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