Uncle Kent

Throughout my life, stories have been told whenever there was a gathering of people, no matter the occasion. Daddy and my cousins are the best story tellers. Here is a family story that was a popular one.

My sister Jennifer and cousin Jeff were young. Daddy and my Uncle had a small mule at the barn lot at Grandma’s farm. They put a saddle on it, and Jennifer and Jeff rode the mule with Daddy or my Uncle leading it around the lot. The two young kids enjoyed the mule ride.

At last, time had come to leave. My Uncle and Daddy took the saddle off the mule. My Uncle turned to Daddy, “Get on it and ride it around the lot.” Daddy wasn’t sure, but he did climb on the mule’s bare back. Before he knew what was happening, my Uncle slapped the mule on the rump; the mule ran off. Daddy was barely hanging on, the mule turned left, and he tried to turn it right. Daddy fell off to the ground, landing on his arm.

The fall knocked the breath out of him. As he laid on the ground, trying to catch his breath, little Jeff came running over, shook his head, and said, “Uncle Kent, you’re suppose to say, Whoa!” Daddy wanted to laugh, but he had no breath. He wished he would have said, “Whoa,” because now he had a broken wrist.

That line, “Uncle Kent, you’re suppose to say, Whoa!” has been repeated so many times over the years. I smile every time I hear or think about it, as it reminds me of the laughs and good times our family shared.

Summertime on Grandma’s Farm

All of us during our childhood could not wait for the last day of school, for our summer vacation to begin. Summers when I was young, meant I would spend days with my Grandma, my sister, and my cousins, playing all over cow pastures, Grandma’s yard, and my cousins’ house. Grandma and my cousins lived on 25 plus acres of cow pastures and a small lake in the middle. Their houses sat at the front of the property, a short distance apart. When I went to Grandma’s house early on a summer day, I would yell for Jason, wave to him to see if we could play. He’d ride his bike or go-cart and join me. The hours passed as we climbed trees or roamed through the pastures on make believe hunting adventures. We mashed poke salad berries to make ink, dipped a stick in it, and wrote on rocks or pieces of wood. We threw crab apples to see who could throw it the farthest or feed them to the cows. We even played on top of the LP gas tank, a great submarine, ship, or horse!

When my sister and I traversed to our cousins’ house, summertime meant hours of our favorite game: War. Jeff and Jason had a plethora of play guns: pistols, rifles, dart guns, cap guns. We split into teams, usually Jeff and Jennifer vs. Jason and me. It was a hide and seek, stealth mission game. One pair hid outside, while the other pair stayed inside the basement, no peeking! The goal was a surprise attack. If you were seeking, you wanted to find the others and shoot first. If you were hiding, you wanted to jump out and shoot before you were spotted and run back to home base.

One summer day, Jason and I climbed up our favorite magnolia tree to hide. Minutes passed. We sat on the branches, silent, waiting with our guns ready. Jeff comes walking up to the tree, looking around on the ground. I am ready to jump down, but Jason motions to me to wait. Jeff walked away. We stayed in the tree longer. Finally, Jeff came back around. That time, Jason and I leaped off our perch, landing on both sides of him. “Pow-Pow, we got you!” Victory for us! Jeff was totally shocked! We laughed as we recalled how Jeff had walked right under us, not suspecting anything.

Summer evenings, as the sun set, we ran around Grandma’s yard catching lightning bugs, placing them in a mason jar. By that time, our parents finished up working on the farm. Everyone gathered in Grandma’s driveway, sitting on tailgates of a truck or jeep or in chairs in the yard. I looked around feeling the warm coolness of a summer evening, feeling the joy of my family being together, a magical way to end a summer day at Grandma’s farm.

Grandma’s Farm

Everywhere was a Stage

Music and performing have been a part of my entire life. When I was young, everywhere was a stage. My sister and I had a small play piano in our play room. Jennifer and I pretended to have church services and lead songs. Then we performed shows. In our bedroom, we played Shawn Cassidy, Leif Garrett, Andy Gibbs, and ABBA on our small record player. Even to silly songs like, “One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying Purple People Eater” and “Disco Duck,” we sang and danced to an audience in our dresser mirror.

Outside, our small front porch was the stage. We practiced cheerleading. Jennifer loved to cheer.  She could do cartwheels; when I tried, I landed on my head and flat on my back. Jen did splits and jumps, and I just yelled loudly. No matter what, we performed outside cheering our Macedonia Wildcats to “Gimme a V, dot the I, curve the C, T-O-R-Y!”

The best stage award goes to Grandma’s outside marble table. My Grandpa had bought the marble and built an outside picnic table about eight feet long and four feet high. Yes, we had picnics and lots of watermelons on the table. However, we utilized it mostly as the grandest stage ever!

We climbed up and performed the most magnificent shows: Disco-Saturday Night Fever, HeeHaw, Greatest Gospel Hymns, Alabama. We enjoyed all kinds of music. We made up entire shows with introductions, singing, and dancing. Sometimes, our cousins joined us. I loved singing, “Thank God, I’m a Country Boy,” by John Denver with them. That song personified our times there on Grandma’s farm. In my mind, “We are Family,” by Sister Sledge, became our anthem, often ending our shows. There on that marble table, I knew I wanted to be a rock star, or Dolly Parton, when I grew up!