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Whit's Whittlin` Part 1by Whit Cromwell,
Between Times March 2006 page 4
Draw up a chair and lets do some `whittlin' and some `cogitatin' together. I'd like to share some memories of Yorba Linda since the days my folks Edna and Baker, pulled up stakes from a little farm in the backwoods of Northwest Mississippi, and moved all the way to California in the fall of 1922. “Cogitate” kinda reminds me of an old cow peacefully calm chewin' her cud, enjoying her days grazin', the second time. My—Our farm in Mississippi was about nine miles from Oxford (that's where the University of “Ole Miss” is situated)—you turn off east to our place, just South of the Hopewell Cemetery, which was across the road from Hopewell Church and School.
Hopewell wasn't a city, it was just a little community of small farms nestled there in the woods. The community still exists—that is the church and the cemetery, but the school has given way to a summer camp.
Many of my relatives are buried in the cemetery, dating back to the 1800s. The old country church is used by a few living in those parts, once a month, when a pastor comes to hold services.
Our old home has not been lived in since we left for California, so all you can see now is the shell, as most of the useable siding, bricks and the wood from the barn and the sheds are all gone—probably to repair some of the old homes in the area, or for firewood to kindle some fireplace. I really wish, sometimes, I hadn't gone back to see the “old place,” because the memories as a youngster were much sweeter and more beautiful than what I saw the last time I visited the site. Hmmm—I can still remember my dad plowing the fields, butchering the animals to take to oxford and sell—you see, he was a country butcher—yes, and also the country barber. In the winter, dad would get up real early and cut the meat and travel nine miles to sell his wares to customers in Oxford, on the square. When he came home late at night we used to stay up to watch him pour the coins and bills on the kitchen table and count the money by the big wood stove. Oh yes, Dad always brought some sticks of candy or some fruit to share. Those were special times. Dad would be so cold that his hands would be red and hurt as he held them close to the stove. Dad didn't have much formal education, but he was a good business man and a hard worker. Believe me, he was a good horse trader.
I'm so glad I inherited such wonderful parents. By the way, I went to school with my sister, Ruth, and learned to “read and write” in the little Country School. Mr. Lowrance was the teacher of all the grades and also the minister of the little church. Mom and Dad didn't ask us if we wanted to go to church, we went. I can remember dad taking me outside the church to “warm my britches” one time because I was standing in the pew singing, when I should have been praying. I wondered why Dad chose to leave Mississippi, all the loved ones, the farm and the peaceful woods, and he told me in later years that he thought there was more opportunity in California.
We left Mississippi by train from Oxford. Mom and Dad shed tears as they said goodbye to relatives. I did too, because after all, we were leaving grandpas, grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins by the dozens. I can still remember the smell of coal smoke, and the chug, chug of the train as we rattled away, headed for Memphis Tenn. to the north and then west toward California.
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