Days Gone By - stories from the past

To Grandmother’s house we go – this story will take you back in time to visits with Grandparents!

To Grandmother’s house we go

by

Ben White

Many fall weekends, our family, Dad, Mother and three children, would catch the Trailways bus and go from downtown Birmingham to Pinson, Alabama. It was about a 16 mile bus trip. Our family did not have a car so that was the only way for us to get there unless someone came to get us.


After we got to Pinson, we would usually walk from where the bus let us out to Grandmother’s house on the farm. That was about a 2 mile walk. Mom and Dad would take turns carrying the suitcase and the three of us children would run and play during the long walk.pinson, alabama

It was a long hard walk

To us it was fun, but to Mom and Dad it was probably a long hard walk. Now that I look back on it, I would have been very tired of carrying a suitcase that far. But they did not fuss about it.

We visited during the fall for things like Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas because that was when my sister and brother were home from school. They were deaf and that was the only time they were out of school. Each of them became deaf due to a childhood illness.

My sister, was deaf because of really bad ear infections when she was a little child. That type of illness is treated with tubes in the ear of little children now. On the other hand, my brother was deaf because he had whooping cough as a 16 month old child. The constant coughing caused his eardrums to burst and gave him nerve deafness. They both went to and finished their schooling at the Alabama School for the Deaf.

Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind

Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind

The visits to Grandmothers were always fun. We got to play in the barn, ride the horse, feed the cows and chickens and play in the corncrib. When it rained we had chores in the barn that took care of keeping us busy. Restack the hay and make room for more or run the ears of corn through the grinder to get the kernels of corn off the cob.

When it was not raining, we got to feed the chickens, pick up the eggs and slop the hogs. We also were indoctrinated into the farm life by watching as a hog was killed or a calf was slaughtered. Then we watched as the meat was prepared for smoking in the smokehouse.

Smokehouse

smokehouse

Sometimes the sausage was made from the left over roasts, etc that came from the pig. The sides of beef were prepared and hung in the smokehouse too.

We help plow the fields

During the summer, when we were all out of school, my brother and I were able to help plow the fields. He would hold up the plow, keeping it in the ground and I would sit in the forks of the plow (sometimes on a big rock to keep the plow in the ground) and guide the horse as we plowed the fields. Then we were able to plant the crop or whatever it might be for that particular field. When we had finished plowing the field, we took the gear off of the horse, Maude, and rode her back to the barn.

If she was really tired, she would head for a low tree branch and scrape us off as she went under it. Then we would catch her and lead her to the barn. Sometimes we would catch her in the pasture and ride her to where the cows were and drive them back to the barn for milking and feeding.

We helped with the chickens

We got to help with raising the chickens. Things like cleaning out the chicken house, feeding the chickens their worm medicine and the likes. One of the fun things to do was to catch chicken snakes. We put an egg in a box with a hole in one side, so the snake could get inside to swallow the egg. Once it swallowed the egg, it could not get back out because the egg was too big to take through the hole. We caught many snakes that way and then skinned them for their hides.

We went to the creek for fun

It was particularly fun on Saturday to talk Granddaddy into taking us to the creek so we could go swimming. I didn’t know how to swim, but Granddaddy threw me into the water just deeper than I was tall and watched me as I splashed or squirmed around in the water. He showed me how to dog paddle and finally, I learned how to swim.

The creek was call Turkey Creek and it was not too far from his house to the creek. What was fun was to do this on a really hot day. Boy could you get cooled down in a hurry.

Turkey Creek, Pinson, Alabama

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You could tell when you had been at the farm all summer, as you could then walk around outside with no shoes on and not hurt your feet.

Things like the hay stubble where you had cut the hay field no longer hurt your feet and you could walk on the gravel without a care because your feet had toughened up. It was always fun to go to Grandmother’s house.

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About Benjamin T. White

Ben White was raised in Birmingham, Alabama. He was a Birmingham News Carrier from 1949 until 1957 in the Forrest Park area of Birmingham. He served in the US Air Force from 1962- 1986 and retired as A Lieutenant Colonel as a Communications Electronics Officer. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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16 comments

  1. Lucy Jackson

    Great childhood memories, where in Pinson?

  2. Lucy Jackson

    And is anything still there? Who were your grandparents?

  3. Lucy Jackson

    I grew up in Calera. ,I relate

    1. Lucy Jackson, I also grew up in Calera in 40’s and 50’s

  4. I just read this wonderful account of growing up in Alabama. We too swam in Turkey Creek in the 40’s. We lived in Trussville. My Mother would take my brother and me, along with our neighbors, Mrs. Lawson and two of her children, and we would have a picnic. Our Mothers couldn’t swim so we would put them on truck innertubes and float them around. I remember there were petrified logs on the sandy bottom of the creek. It was like a fairy land. What a wonderful time and place to be a child.

  5. My mother taught at the Alabama School for the Deaf. She often spoke of the children who lost their hearing due to diseases. I’m so thankful that we have vaccinations to prevent many of those diseases now! Did you learn to sign?

  6. My Aunt Glennice Hicks used to teach at Talledega at the School for the Deaf. I’ll bet she taught your brother!

  7. Cynthia Stack Harmon

    my gm always came to visit via the bus

  8. Tom Marriott

    Went to visit my grandparents in Decatur on the bus every summer!!!

  9. Gayle Stephens Farris

    Loved this wonderful story……..especially this time of year. Thanks Donna Causey.

  10. Carol Reid

    Brings back a lot of memories from my early childhood. We went by bus or train to visit my
    grandparents. Going to Birmingham by bus for a day in town was a great treat to us children.

  11. Janice Whitley Drinkard

    I loved this but the thing I loved the most is he said we were able or we got to do chores, not we had to or were made to. That was beautiful to me and tells me that the author actually loved his childhood.

  12. Belinda Woods Stevens

    I rode on Greyhound buses to see my dad and grandma . Most of my family lived in Akron Alabama. Such beautiful memories

  13. I used to go on Granny trips to Pinson as a child. We got to ride in a car but I remember seeing the “michelon” man and this big sign of a dog with a moving tongue eating its food as we rode through Bham. That was our cue that it was just a while longer to get to Grannys. We played with our cousins in the pine thicket, went to see my uncle’s baby goats. Memories that stand out are my grandpa’s Prince Albert cans of tobacco and watching him roll his cigarettes, the creepy ‘storm pit’ that was. a necessity to my weather fearing Granny, swimming at the Blue Hole, etc
    I think I may even be distantly related to this author as I know we have some Whites from out there in our tree. It was a fun to visit Granny.

  14. Janey Whitten Sabel

    Walk down memory lane…TY!!

  15. MY WIFE GREW UP IN BIRMINGHAM, AL , HER NAME IS BETTY EASTER CLARK, SHE , HER MOTHER & SISTER WENT FROM BI’R INGHAM TO AMORY, MS TO VISIT HER GRAND PARENTS, MR JOHNY RITTER & MS ZORA RITTER, WHO LIVED JUST NORTH OF DOWN TOWN, MR RITTER HAD A MILL THERE & MADE CORN MEAL. (BELIEVE THE TRAIN FROM BHAM TO AMORY WAS NAMED SUNNYLAND) ON THE FRISCO RAILROAD.

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