Some of my earliest childhood memories took place in an old ramshackle farmhouse that we referred to as “Earl’s”, named after the man who owned the house, Earl Huffman. The house was located up Johnson Holler on Friends Run. I don’t remember any of the other places we lived before that, so my earliest memories take place at Earl’s.
Below is a photo of my brother Jason and I playing dress-up in mom's nightgowns!
I remember Mom setting up a table and chair on the back porch of Earls and feeding us breakfast in the sun. Me and my brother would eat our cereal at this table nearly every morning that the sun was shining. Mom always made sure we had neat little bowls to eat out of, a fact that isn’t lost on either of us all these years later. She and Dad always made sure we had the perfect childhood, probably stemming from the fact that Mom didn’t have one herself as she was placed in foster care at an early age.
Below is a photo of Jason and I at the breakfast table that I mention in the above story. We'd have breakfast here nearly every morning.
A sad memory I recall from Earls was we had a little brown puppy, whose name has been forgotten through the years. He was a playful little puppy and Jason and I loved him. One wintry evening Dad went out to get wood for the stove and the puppy followed him out, and when Dad’s arms where full of wood and when he started back inside, the puppy got under his feet and Dad unknowing stepped on him. Dad was then and is now a big man and of course the little puppy didn’t stand a chance. We all heard a yelp and that was that. I think it hurt Dad more than anything to know that he had accidentally killed our puppy. Of course, the next day we had a puppy funeral.
Yet another memory of Earls is that of the Chipmunk. We were walking around with mom one day and found a chipmunk that was “charmed” by our cat Sylvester. The chipmunk was in a daze and I’m sure ready to be lunch for Sylvester. Mom picked up the chipmunk and held it for a few minutes until it came out of the charming and then it bit her on the thumb. Of course, while mom was yelping in pain, Jason and I were laughing since we thought that was funny.
It was at Earls that I’m sure I got my love of the land and planting. One day while “looking” some Pinto beans for supper, Mom gave me some of the broken beans and told me to go plant them. I’m sure she was just thinking of something to get me out from underfoot, but I took her advice and went out to the garden, punch a hole in the ground with my finger and planted a bean in every finger hole. Lo and behold a few weeks later we noticed that my beans were growing. I don’t remember ever picking those beans, perhaps we moved before they were ripe but I do remember that they grew.
Below is a photo of Jason and I playing with our sticker books, this was taken about the time I learned my numbers and colors.
At Earl’s I also remember learning my colors and numbers out of the Sears Catalog. My brother who is 18 months older than me, was preparing for grade school, and he knew his colors, numbers and could read. I remember not wanting to be left out so I told mom that I wanted to learn them as well. She set me down on the couch with the catalog and showed me different colors and numbers, and then she gave me some crayons and told me to draw a green “1” on the wall. I did. Then a Red “2” and I did that as well. That is how I learned my colors and numbers, it was fun to learn when you got to write on the walls, a fact that I’m sure wasn’t lost on my mother. And all it cost her was a little paint.
Earl’s was up a holler than was full of rattlesnakes, you had to be careful when you got out to open the gate as there was, more often than not, a rattler laying around the gatepost. Mom and Dad would never allow us out of the mowed yard without them because of the snake problem. I don’t remember ever personally dealing with a snake while at Earls, but I do recall Dad and Aunt Tam killing them on pretty much a daily basis, but then again I was only 4 years old.
Below is a photo of Jason and I playing with our new "horses" at Earl's.
It was at Earls that I also got my cracked foot. I got a wagon somewhere, God only knows where… it could’ve been Rio Mall or the Dump, or perhaps a yardsale, but let’s suffice it to say that I got a wagon and was playing with it in the yard. I would ride in it and Aunt Tam would pull me around. I got the bright idea to roll down the hill into the road one day in my wagon. It was not a steep hill, but a hill nonetheless. Unfortunately for me, directly in my path was my Grandad’s truck. I knew I was going to hit the truck so I started flailing my arms and legs. I hit squarely into his truck rim, and unfortunately for me, my leg was between my wagon and the rim. I squalled and Aunt Tam came and got me and took me to the house. I remember someone jokingly saying “Well, we’ll just have to cut it off.” And they got out their pocketknife. I’m sure they thought I was putting on but it liked to scared me to death. Upon closer inspection, my grandad pronounced my leg broken, so off I went to the hospital. Sure enough my leg was cracked. Oddly enough, to date that was the one and only broken bone that I have ever had. That could lead into another story… the exploits of me in my cast, but I’ll save that one for another day.