There was only one traffic light in town, and if by chance you blinked your eyes, you would have missed the little town of Garfield completely. When our family lived on the outskirts of Garfield, we thought it was the greatest place on earth to live, but we never had anything else to compare it with because Garfield was all we knew back then as children. Each day was a new adventure. There was always the family dog with us, nipping at my ankles, and my sisters, as we walked over well-worn paths searching for tart blackberries and sweet wild plums…we were always hungry.
The sun was warm on our freckled sunburned faces and our feet felt wild and free as they were not confined to store purchased shoes during the summer. Mama seemed to always be hovered over the cookstove preparing fried chicken and chocolate cake. It would be twenty years later before I could experience Italian food or tasty, fried shrimp and other seafood because our dad was strictly a hardcore southern gentleman who would never venture away from the food he enjoyed as a child and grew up on. We spent a lot of time on the front porch shelling butterbeans and peas during the day and at night watching the moon and stars while daddy frightened us to death with his believable ghost stories of ghouls and headless creatures.
Clocks and timepieces were never used - everyone went by sun time. The old timers could tell you almost to the minute when it was dinner time or it was six o’clock in the evening and time to knock off for the day. Our dad could smell mama’s fried chicken from across the cornfield and never bothered to check the sun’s position in the western sky. He had a gut feeling it was time to go home because mama’s fried chicken was calling him. After supper, night was closing and the dishes were washed and dried, and the chickens had gone to roost. You could almost hear the green corm grow as it snapped, popped and cracked in the corn field nearby.
Toward the west, the silent silver moon hung over Garfield, giving natural light for Franklin Toole and Claudia Johnson’s mercantile stores to close for the night. After all, tomorrow will be another day. We went to bed early that night just to hear the soft summer raindrops on the tin roof, and to dream of going to the maple hole the next day, where the water is cool, refreshing and extra special for swimming and celebrating the 4th of July with a picnic on the ground.
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