Yeah, I grew up in town on the corner of 3rd Street and Wharton Road. You have to realize this though. Our home was the third house built in what was called Turner Addition. So really the town or suburbs grew up around us. My point is this. I always had the opinion that pretty much no matter where you lived in Cadiz and Trigg County in the 1960’s, you were growing up in the country. I liked to think like that anyway. You see, I had rather to have been considered a country boy than city folk for some innate reason.
As I grew into my teenage years I began to discover my inner country self by working on farms throughout Trigg County. As it came to be, I wouldn’t trade my experience of working on Trigg County farms and spending time talking with the good farmers of Trigg County for anything. Sit back in your favorite chair with a glass of iced tea and I will tell you a few stories that relate to you my country side. I would wager a guess that you will know most all of the folks that I mention. They may even be your neighbors. You already know that I can’t do this in one part so prepare yourself for a series.
My first connection with farms did not involve work. My first farm experience was through family. As a young child I can vividly remember going to Pa Perry’s in Wallonia for family get-togethers. Now I am not sure if get-togethers is proper English but that is what we called them. Pa and Grandma Perry lived pretty near the end of Perry Road on the North side of Wallonia. The house seemed like an absolute mansion to me when I was a little kid. With a front porch, upstairs, yard, barns and even their own gas pump. Pa and Grandma Perry were actually named Early and Pansy Perry. Pa died in 1965 when I was only five years old. Even though I was young I can clearly remember Pa and recall some specific memories of his Wallonia farm. One such memory happened at the dinner table during supper. As it came time to eat, Pa Perry said, “Let’s bless the food before we eat.” With that Pa began to say the blessing. As soon as he was done, my big city cousin Steve from Louisville burst out with some incriminating information on Cousin Jay Witty. Steve said, “Pa, Jay had his eyes open the whole time you were saying the blessing.” The family looked to Pa for his reply and it came quickly. With wisdom Pa said, “Now Steve how do you know Jay had his eyes open.” Big city Steve quickly realized he had just convicted himself along with Cousin Jay.
Another memory from that mansion in Wallonia include games of army with my much older cousins Craig and Winston Perry as well as the aforementioned Jay Witty and others.
Fishing in Muddy Fork Creek stands out as a good memory as well. I will never forget the year they were impounding Barkley Lake and thousands of bass ran up into all the little creeks and streams. There were people going to the river through Pa’s farm and literally taking out all the bass they could pack. I remember seeing two men with a stringer of fish tied to a stick. It took both of the men to carry the stick at shoulder height with the stringer of fish reaching all the way to the ground. The fish were so thick in Muddy Fork that it looked like a trout stocking at Casey Creek.
Speaking of fishing, I will never forget fording the creek on a tractor or in a truck to get to a field on the other side where we caught perch with a cane pole. Man that is a good memory. Think about it. Me and my daddy, a cane pole, some perch on the stringer and not a worry in the world.
Sorry. By the time this hits the paper it will look like this story went on seamlessly. It did not. When I got to that last paragraph I could almost feel my dad taking me by the hand, leading me to the pond, and standing by my side as he delighted in my success at catching what he called perch. I was overcome by a wave of happiness at that memory only to be followed by a bigger wave of depression knowing how badly I would like to go through that same field with dad once again to catch just a few more perch. That sadness led to an interruption of my writing as I tried to make my memories my treasures.
OK back to the story. Each summer at Pa’s eventually turned to fall which is the season my last memory comes from. This memory is the one where all the grandchildren, me and my cousins, would run the length of the yard and jump off the retaining wall that elevated the yard into a gigantic pile of leaves. It seemed like we fell for several feet before our fall was cushioned by the leaves.
You know something, I took a drive down Perry Road the other day. The house which used to be full of family, love and life is vacant and in ill repair. Strangely, it also isn’t near as big as I remembered it. The yard is a lot smaller too and the drop from that elevated yard is only a couple of feet. The memories however, of my Pa Perry’s farmhouse, will never be diminished in my heart and mind. It will forever be a special place.
OT: Heard many great comments about the folks featured in my last column, Dan and Jean Thompson. I didn’t realize how many lives they had touched.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Mike Wright is the former head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.