Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mo and Loretta (Off to the Farm)

Alright – the sun is gorgeous here in Philly today, and I am feeling outdoorsy. How about we head out to the farm? You know what I mean: vicariously, through the seniors’ stories!  In hearing Mo and Loretta’s childhood stories, you know what I realized? A farm is never just a farm; a place is never just a place, but a frame with which to remember experiences and people. Ultimately, talking about the farm is just a way for Mo to remember his dad and grandfather, and a way for Loretta to remember her grandpa. Happy Father’s Day!

Mo McCooper
May 6, 2010
Pheasant and Rabbit

In Ireland my Grandfather was born in Tyrone County, where all boys learned to fish and hunt while following “the dogs” to surprise the prey. Among my fond memories my Dad is explaining to me the special talent of Pointers, Setters, Retrievers, and Springers who lived in kennels behind our family bar.

With a child’s bow and arrow I’d walk way behind the men who would be reaching to fire their rifles at growling pheasants or wild rabbits or squirrels startled of by hiding the “BIRD DOGS”. This was very serious business. Usually 3 or 4 cars or pickup trucks took dogs and men a few hours west from Philadelphia to Chester County where the Pennsylvania Dutch farmers would allow us to hunt on their land. Sometimes they would invite us in for lunch which was always more food than I ever saw at a dinner table anywhere else, plus dessert including pumpkin or rhubarb pie and ice cream.

I love those people. In writing this I realize that no other kids were ever with us. I never realized how incredibly lucky I was. Later a sixteen year old boy came along but that’s a story for another day.

Loretta Gaither

June 10, 2010
Remembering Grandpa

I remember when I went to my grandpa’s farm at twelve years old, and tried to help him pick tobacco. I picked it the wrong way, only picked the top, without the stem, and my grandpa could not sell it. I felt terrible, but Grandpa said it wasn’t my fault.

I liked to go down South. There was a smokehouse and an outhouse. The smokehouse had meat and ham. The food was better down South. Breakfast was a whole meal: gravy, homemade grits, and biscuits, and I said, “All this food, you call this breakfast?”

My grandpa died when he was 95 years old.