Many would look down their noses at the place where I grew up. It was then and is today affectionately known as “The Creek.” If you are from there or ever stayed there then you will know it even though I won’t name the town or even the state.
The Creek is a neighborhood of struggling working class folks. The houses aren’t large or fancy and most are simple frame homes. Some are filled to the brim with growing children where both parents have to work to make ends meet. Most of the yards have huge old oak trees dripping with Spanish moss and in the back or on the side will be a place designated for a vegetable garden which usually has something growing in it year round. There are clothes lines strung across the back yard where the women hang the laundry out to dry. It is a beautiful sight to see the large, usually white, sheets flapping in a summer breeze. Now you can buy and add to your wash all the fancy fabric softeners you want but you will never have the fresh clean scent you get from clothes hanging on a line and drying in the fresh air and sunshine. As a child you learn early that unless you want your fanny tanned you better stay clear of the clothes hanging on the line. If Momma finds tiny prints from your dirty little hands you will regret the day.
As I said all the neighbors who are physically able usually have a garden growing year round. The Creek people share what they grow; some might have collards, others peas, others beans and almost all have a tomato plant or two. They plant Marigolds in with the vegetables because it keeps the insects away without chemicals. The folks on the Creek were organic before anyone knew what organic meant. Now when they go to share they will say “C’mon on over and get you a mess of collards (or what have you.)” It is never “some” or “enough for a meal.” If you are truly from the south you know it always has been and always will be “a mess.” And the evening meal isn’t dinner it is supper and what most call lunch in the south we call dinner.
Neighbors watch out for neighbors and all keep their eyes on the kids. If a mom knows that both parents are at work at a meal time she will have her kids run over and tell their kids to “C’mon and eat.” On the other hand if any kid needs his fanny popped for getting into something he shouldn’t any neighbor that sees him will happily oblige. And the worse part, they will tell your parents so you get it again when you get home. We played baseball in the street, which was red clay, and a passing car slowed as the game stopped and resumed once the dust had settled. In the early evening we gathered under the street light and played hide-and-seek while our parents sat on the front porches and visited with each other. The older children usually helped the younger children find a good hiding spot and all looked out for each other. We were more like family than neighbors.
There will be more Creek stories in the future. It was a poor neighborhood but a wonderful place to raise children. We were taught to love God and thank Him for all our blessings. Parents might be busy making a living but they took time to listen to their kids and visit for a few minutes with their neighbors. Today people live beside each other for years and don’t even know who lives next door.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing some of my memories. As I’ve told you before some are good and some are bad but the good out weighs the bad. God Bless.