‘Back in the Day’
By Bettie MacIntyre
Back in the day, before televisions, cell phones, computers, and sit-down family dinners. Lois can remember the quaint, friendly small country town nestled near the Elephant Mountains in Vermont, where she lived. From the main thoroughfare, turn at the depot junction and cross the railroad tracks to get there. Drive a few country miles past the town cemetery and up the steep curved hill. The only road through the little town that leads to the favorite swimming hole, in Lincoln Gap.
Most importantly, the great reminder, ‘The Lord’s Prayer Rock,’ with the noted prayer chiseled into an enormous boulder, as a reminder for the farmers not to cuss at their stubborn horses not wanting to trot up the hill with a loaded wagon on Sunday morning going to the church meeting. The houses line the main road have ‘so-called’ porches across their façade, known as verandas. Not because they’re highfaluting, but it’s an exceptional part of the home. That’s where families solve problems, gossip, have afternoon tea, nurse babies, sit quietly, read, or think. When the neighbors finish their chores, you can hear the rockers squeaking to a rhythmic tune. It wasn’t long before the creaking became unison as the neighbors rocked till nightfall on their veranda’s.
By the late evening, dew began to evaporate over the horizon. And the sun would slowly disappear beyond the South Mountains, offering muted shadows on the railing below. The soft breeze rustled the leaves on the old front maples, causing air currents to cool the fresh air. Sitting on the veranda, you would see the whirling wind whispering that the evening was arriving. And the wolfhounds howled as the day transitioned to moonlight. Now in her nineties, Lois is on the veranda sitting in motion on the green slatted rocker to the rhythmic sway, in solitude, and reflects on her youth. Her mind danced back to her young years, mom, dad, brothers, and her beloved Molly. She closed her eyes, her chin bent to the chest, and with the soft push of her black low-heeled tied shoes, the rhythm of the sway continued. She mindfully reflected to, back in the days.
Lois opened the book that her dad had given her many years back. She had jotted down short stories and poems on scraps of paper and stuffed them in her blouse. That’s when her dad decided it was time to give his daughter a journal. It became her coveted gift, and she treasured it throughout the years. He has passed, but the black marbled booklet has encased a treasure-trove of stories and poems that became a reflection of her living legacy. Throughout the many years, she had journaled poems, odes, and prose. As she looked through the frayed time-worn pages and read her treasured papers, she rubbed over the stained pages lovingly scribed many years ago. The stitched binding had loosened as she held it close to her heart and rocked to the sway, simultaneously feeling the grief and content, thinking of her dad, Oscar.
Oh yes, a learned girl of literature and a writer was what he had wished for her to procure—a teacher or, University professor. Lois closed her eyes, leaned her head back as she pushed her feet to keep the back-and-forth rhythm; if only she had listened to her dad, but again, staggering sway, and pondered over her youth, Molly, and the life that she created. Oh yes, she rocked on the veranda with her eyes closed, just thinking, and began to tear up.
One thing she had promised was that she would return to her beloved Vermont and the mountains. That is where she and Molly rode wild and free, her parent and brother, and she met Eddy, her greatest love. Oh, the lush mountains and how they call her name. Yes, they still whisper Lois in the wind, and the nostalgia of her by-gone days reminds her of the sweet memories that continue to run through her mind.
Minuscule suppression of laughter
sounds of the evening twilight.
The family gathered submissions,
all tucked in for the night.
Kindling piled in the wood box,
ready for the morning light.
Stir oatmeal for our breakfast,
kettle cooled off in the night!
Crackling fire warms the hearth,
mother and the family awake.
Gathered children from their sleep,
refreshed to eat and hurried in fright!
Grandmother starts in the pantry,
punching and patting her dough.
Old bread pans are all lined up,
ready for the oven to go!
Wafting aromas of baking,
a lifetime of magnificent smells.
Stored memories of the farmhouse,
And the old pantry with stories to tell.
Children in Fringed top buggy,
mother, driving the surrey to school.
Stops to pick up the neighbors,
for all to learn the Golden Rule.
Children are all attentive,
School Marm rings the bell.
All sit very attentively,
And being quietly and well!
Running and jumping at recess,
Swings swung gaily in the sun.
Then children line up for entering,
quietly entering one by one!
Spelling Bees and memorizing,
Part of the learning for all.
Village Smithy and poetry,
Recitals for children’s recall!
The old farmhouse was banked,
Around foundation with snow.
Helped to keep the cold out,
As Northern winds did blow!
Carrots, potatoes, and apples
all stored in the cellar below.
Vegetables and meat all in jars
fed the family all winter through!
Sit by the bank in the Springtime,
Listen for yesterday’s long.
It seems I can hear Grandpa’s Fiddle,
Playing Steven’s old-time song!
Hush, can you hear it?
Family all-singing oh so, divine.
Shut your eyes and hear the strumming,
listen to the heartstrings of another time.
Tears shed and roll downward,
Dreaming of past years of mine.
Perhaps if you listen carefully,
The spirit of past years you’ll find.
Now a gentle trudge to the future,
Modern extensions of time.
Quiet days in the future,
Rollback this gentle old time!
Take my hand go back,
Digress to time-honored ways.
Perhaps the dream of the future
stems from generations of long-ago ways!
‘Dedicated to Lois Mae Wheelock-MacIntyre, My Mother 1921 -2015’