There was a long gravel road down to Granny’s house and over to our house which later became Uncle Larry’s house.Not just the small gravel wrapped in the fine dusty grey dirt but the big sharp white rock pieces that could split your knee cap open when you fell from your bike. I did split my knee cap open a few times and elbows and palms of my hands. It was all good, because I loved that road. It was like freedom to me being young but having somewhere to travel, somewhere to go and explore for the day. I loved my life, but wasn’t aware that not everyone had a road to play on that was only traveled by grandparents and other extended family members. Sometimes a group of “church folks” would come a “visitin’.” But the majority of the day that road was mine. I didn’t know it then, but I do now.
We played for hours upon hours upon hours along that road. We raced up to the Highway 51. I wished it could have been 100 Highway. Everyone talked about that Highway. It was curvy and people had died on it. It was famous, but no, we just lived next to Highway 51. Who knew that someday that road led to where I live now for most of my big kid and adult days. My Uncle who never left Adair county lives down that highway, up and down a few hills from where this road to Granny’s was, where I spent these growin’ up days. We knew better than to get too close to the Highway, but up to the edge was fair game.
As you came down the road you could stop at the trailer house that was once an Aunt and Uncle’s house for a bit, then another Aunt and Uncle lived there, and maybe a cousin that wasn’t married yet, then I can’t remember from there the many inhabitants of that first stop.
Next you passed a cottonwood tree to the right down a slope to the burn pile. We spent many an hour stopping by the side of the road to roll down the hill. We didn’t care about ticks and chiggers. Finding them was the mom’s and our Granny’s job at the end of the day. The grass was cool and plush with clover. No real stickers like here in the red dirt part of Oklahoma where I live now. Never found a four leaf but I sure looked a lot. Made chains with them too. Necklaces and bracelets and wreaths for my hair. I don’t remember being taught how to make them. We just did it.
Farther down the road it branched off. If you went straight you would end up in the Grandfolks driveway next to a Rose of Sharon bush. I loved the smell of the blooms and the pretty flowers that budded. Now I wish I knew who planted it. It meant a lot to me growing up. I’d jump off the front porch or pull other crazy shenanigans from the height of the front porch and run smell the Rose of Sharon blooms. That’s just what I did over, and over and over.
Now here is where the road curved a bit and led to the house where we lived for a few short pieces of time. Then my Uncle lived there and put up a fence. It never looked the same after that. But out in front of that house was a sun lit field. It looked big then. Now, not so big. We played ball in that field and sometimes church folks would come over and play a round of softball. Well, I was little and just remember watching wondering if I’d ever get big enough to play.
We rode bikes down that road and up to the highway and back and marched and skipped mostly barefoot. I don’t remember wearing shoes ever as we went back and forth, back and forth until time for supper. We lived outside and on that road. I have many memories of that time.
I went back a few years ago to see it after my family’s land next to the junk yard was sold where these houses stood after Granny and Granddad had passed. The road wasn’t really a big road like it had seemed when I was 6. It was more of a very long curvy driveway, but it had been full of wonder and learning and jagged rocks. What do kids that age do now while growing up? Where do they spend their time? I was blessed. Most of my best memories came from an old dirt road.