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Tenacity is within the genes

My recent experience of struggling each day to work my way back from a hip injury is giving me such an amazing respect for the profession of physical therapy and the process the put the patient through to awaken the various muscles back into performing their previous automatic duties. The experience made me reflect on a story of the tenacity of my grandfather and inspires me each day to press on.

The leaf swayed hanging on to the lonely limb tightly.  As if, to say to the world “I am not done and you are not going to make me fall down no matter what you throw at me.” All of its fellow leaves had given up the ghost blowing in whatever direction the wind desired them to go. Some managed to find a resting place at the foot of the majestic oak tree to spend the winter becoming the woodland blanket upon which the rain would fall before soaking into the ground.
My Grandad sat quietly on the porch staring at the leave bobbing in the wind.
He had come back from a tremendous stroke that took the wind from his earthly sails. The man who seemed would not bend to nothing could now barely lift himself from the chair in which he sat.
On this fall day though spying that lone leaf seemed to fortify him more than anything that anyone had to bolster his spirits. He stared endlessly watching its fight and as the fight struggled on from one day to two, to a week, his personal strength seemed to grow.
He managed each day no matter how the wind blew or what elements forced themselves past the mountain homestead, he walked himself out to the porch to spend some time sitting, later leaning against the porch post, and then standing as upright as the years would allow. He was always looking off towards the oak tree and its one hold out to the whims of the world saying nothing that revealed the focus of his internal thoughts.
As the winter came on strong, he would rise up and with his cane in hand, he eventually walked off the porch and towards that mighty oak tree going as far as he felt comfortable then returning to the porch. With each trip he got closer to his goal and he soon reached the tree looking straight up towards the hanging leaf.
There were a few times he would take one hand lean against the trunk of the tree and with the other lift his cane as far as he could trying to hit the leaf that centered his focus. He was just shy of reaching it and he would eventually tire and return to the warmth of the fireplace inside.
The light covering of snow did not even dissuade him to making his trek to the oak and returning home and with each passing day he grew stronger.
By the first signs of spring, he no longer limited his walking to just the tree and he was taken on even more of the activities that made his day sing around the farm.
It was on a spring day that the tree had refilled all its limbs and the greenery made it full and majestic. Grandad could no longer see the lone leaf from the porch so he decided to make another trek to see what had become of his now old companion who he fought alongside against the world’s elements.
As he reached the tree, he looked upon the ground to find it to no avail so he turned his gaze upward and amongst the lush green leaves there it was – one brown leaf still holding on to its place amidst the green youngsters around it.
Grandad’s face seemed to change as his face fought back the effects of the stroke moved to show a smile.
He raised his cane, almost in a sense of a salute to the lone leaf, then turned and walked down the trail towards the valley store. Emboldened by the lone leaf, he was figuring to hold on to his place in the world and stand as the man he was inside, no matter what nature threw against him.
We need more people in this world who work to overcome what they face finding the inner strength that God placed within each of His creations.

Uncle Dud Doolittle and the rickety ladder

I am sitting on experience overload as we all are dealing with the nationwide pandemic shutdown and my local region is reeling due to tornadoes and flooding. So, I am turning us to a bit of levity to raise the spirits:

My great Uncle Dud Doolittle was an entrepreneur extraordinaire who operated the little general store at Flintville Crossroads.

Now Uncle Dud was as swift as could be. He stood about five-foot-five and was wiry as a well-strung bed frame.

His circular Ben Franklin spectacles offset his gray hair, and he was seldom seen outside his wool, dark green-striped suit and favorite gray beaver hat.

When working in the store, he also wore a black visor on his head that looked odd because it made his bald spot shine as he worked below the store’s light bulb.

With the variety of folks who made his store a regular place to be, he was always finding himself in unique and unusual situations.

Folks were always eager to give a hand, especially Cousin Clara who made a drop by the store a daily ritual.

It was a quiet Friday afternoon in July of 1948. Uncle Dud stood on a rickety wooden ladder putting a shipment of canned peaches in his favorite pyramid display. As he drew his task to close Cousin Clara came in saying, “Sure is hot out there.”

She noticed a can lying below the ladder so she walked over and stepped under the ladder to pick it up. As she raised up, she knocked over the ladder sending Uncle Dud to the floor.

“Doggoned it,” Dud said. “I told you before to stay away from that ladder. Don’t you know it is bad luck to walk under a ladder?”

“I didn’t know you were superstitious,” Clara said.

“About the only time I am superstitious is when somebody like you walks under a ladder and deliberately sends me to the ground,” he said.

“Do you believe it is seven years bad luck to break a mirror?” Clara asked.

“No sireee! My Uncle Corn Walter broke a mirror, and he did not have a bit of bad luck,” Dud said.

“Why didn’t he?” Clara asked.

“He got bit by a rattlesnake and died two days later,” he said.

Throughout the conversation, Dud remained as he had landed on the floor — standing on his head.

“Why are you still like that?” she asked.

“When I stand on my head the blood rushes to my head, but when I stand on my feet the blood don’t seem to rush to my feet,” Dud said. “I didn’t know why, so I wanted to just stay here and think about it a minute or two.”

“Why, that’s easy to figure out in your case Uncle Dud,” Clara said. “Blood can’t go in to your feets because your feets are full, but it can go into your head cause your head’s empty.”

(The characters of Uncle Dud Doolittle and Cousin Clara are the property of Peach Picked Publishing in association with Katona Publishing and are used by permission.)

My Own Chicken

When I was just a little boy on the farm, I spent much of my time fascinated by the baby animals — a young colt, a calf, baby chicks and ducklings.
When I was big enough, my grandmother said it was time I had my very own chicken.
Since becoming an adult, I have learned to appreciate the importance of chicken — fried chicken, baked chicken, chicken fricassee or chicken casserole. While traveling as a singer from church to church, you can’t help but become accustomed to it.  Everywhere you go some nice lady always comes with a great big platter of Southern fried chicken for you to eat.
But as a child, I had not really connected the fact that little baby chicks grow up to be dinner.
Since we lived in the suburbs of Atlanta, Grandma said when I was ready she would give me three eggs and hopefully one would hatch.
To get ready, we had to order an incubator by mail to replace the warmth of the hen. The little yellow hatchery looked like a small spaceship.
After getting set up, Grandma picked out three eggs for me on our next trip to the farm. I remember coming in each day and gently turning the eggs so they would be heated evenly on both sides from the bulb in the bottom.
I watched those little eggs patiently, knowing that one day soon I would have my very own baby chick.
After a while, two of the three eggs decided it was time to get out of that spaceship and began to break through the egg.
I will never forget my excitement as each little yellow being came into a new world. Of course, for me it was hard to tell what they were going to be when they grew up. With the names I gave them, “Roscoe” and “King,” it worked out well since they both turned out to be roosters.
I did my best with the help of my folks to nurse those little chicks into adulthood.
They stayed in a little box in the kitchen and were fed and watered until they got big enough to go outside.
In our back yard, they made friends with my dog “Track,” and the trio had a fine old time running about. Of course, I think Track had more fun than Roscoe and King. He always seemed to be doing the chasing.
I am sure the neighbors were not overjoyed by the addition of the chickens to our subdivision, but as long as they were quiet, the chickens were welcome.
As roosters will, eventually they began to raise the sun with their crowing.
While we never had any complaints, I know the neighbors would eventually tire from their early morning alarms. So, Roscoe and King got to go on a trip to Grandma’s farm.
It was tough to let them go, but I did, and they seemed much happier running around the barn yard with all the other chickens.
I did get to visit them from time to time. Of course, I did receive some ribbing from my aunt Bessie in her letters on how good they were at last Sunday’s dinner.
It was much later when my mother Pearl and her friends, Mary Burgess and Nettie Fischer, decided that they would cut some corners and save money on the food budget. They decided to buy a bunch of chickens for a dime a piece, kill and clean them and put them in the freezer so we would have plenty to eat. As a little kid, I watched all the hard work the ladies put into this process. I watched as the chickens did their dance as they lost their heads. After seeing the little critters running around the yard, I just did not have the heart to eat a one of them. I guess I just pictured them as being Roscoe and King.
The experience taught me a tremendous amount about the responsibility of taking care of little ones. Perhaps the same is true of people.
Wouldn’t it be a nice world if everyone realized the importance of providing constant care and guidance to their little ones until they can run with the other big people and take care of themselves?

Family ties won’t be broken

The importance of one’s family connections is something that I believe we are losing in America.
With each generation there are fewer individuals who live close to their extended families, unlike the days when grandma and grandpa lived just in the next room or uncles, aunts and cousins were a short walk down the road.
Many Americans today do not really know the members of their extended family. We spend a few awkward moments together at funerals, family reunions, Christmas and Thanksgiving gatherings and then off we go back to our own lives.
As families build lives miles away from their home many grasp the anonymity of their new surroundings with fervor, often dreading when a distant family member might drop in, disrupting their lives.
Despite the fact that my parents chose to move away from their homes to build a life for themselves in Atlanta, I grew up in a home where our door was open to members of both my mother’s and father’s families. It was not unusual for there to be cousins stretched out on quilted pallets sleeping on the living room floor; uncles rummaging through the refrigerator for green dill pickles as a late night snack; aunts blanching red tomatoes from the garden in the kitchen; or distant kin moving in for an extended stay while they looked for a job or planned a new start.
Because of the time I spent with these people growing up, I feel a much closer connection to them; the shared experiences make chance meetings and gatherings less of a strain today.
It was not unusual for my Mom to get up and start cooking a batch of turnip greens, cornbread and some fried chicken, while cleaning the house from end to end. When asked why she was doing it, she would say “so and so” will be here directly. Sure enough, after a while they would knock at the door. My Mom has a second sense about that. With no forewarning she knew some relative was on their way.
Sundays were a big visiting day. It was not unusual for Uncle Harvey, Aunt Lois and all their kids to load up in the car and be knocking at our door before dinner. Sometimes Grandma Allie and Grandpa Jesse would come along for the ride.
Us cousins would spend the afternoon playing as the folks caught up on all the family news. We might ride over to the airport to watch the planes land or go downtown to sight see. We would eat dinner, and then whomever was visiting would load up in the car and head back up to the mountains of Georgia or Tennessee.
I remember one trip when Uncle Harvey and family came down to see Joe Don Baker in “Walking Tall.” Of course, us kids were not old enough to go to the drive-in and see it so we had a sleepover instead, while most of the adults took in the hit movie.
Just like their visits there, we also visited regularly. Despite the distance it was like we were one family experiencing life together rather than living separate lives and putting up with one another for a few hours at the holidays.
God has called many of those family members for an extended stay at his house. While they are absent here, the experiences still live within me, giving me a sense of the extended family even if there are fewer of them now on this side than there once was.
The stories they told of relatives I never knew made those people alive to me. Through those stories many of my characters come to life on the page in columns and in scripts.
As each holiday rolls by, take the time to experience more than just the ordinary. Help create an experience that will last for yourself and your children throughout the lifetime. It is the shared moments of life that will make the basis for what we know as family.
If we as a country do not work to strengthen our families individually, what will the future hold for the American family as a whole? I guess we will be a country of individuals seeking a group in which to belong. We can only hope those groups aren’t exclusively on social media.

Feudin’ — it’s all in the family

A few months back I met a new friend at a political rally, when I heard the name, I found myself just having to share with him that unfortunately, we could not be friends because we were feudin’.
The young man, of course, had no clue of what I was talking about, so I went on to share a bit about my family history and one of the many historical feuds within the family tree.
When we hear the words family feud, we think of the game show, but in many areas of the mountains the words had a much more serious and sometimes violent meaning. Folks around the world have heard of the Hatfield and McCoy Feud but what about the Swafford Tollett Feud?
I have written many a column about the idyllic happenings of my mother and grandparents in the valley below the Gravelly Spur Mountain. The now peaceful Sequatchie Valley north of Pikeville, Tennessee was the scene that a feud carried on from the Civil War until the 1890s and by some accounts truly did not completely end until the Great Depression.
Many years ago, I met a distant cousin, the late cousin Thomas V. Swafford who had written a book entitled “The Swafford-Tollett Feud.” I learned so much from he and his book shooting straight about the good and the bad, the positive and the negatives of more than 50 years of ill will, court battles, moonshining, gun fights, beatings, burnings and intimidation.
Swafford said in 2007 that many might not wish the stories told.
“A few people may say this book should have not been written,” he said. “They may say it opens old wounds and even that should be swept under the rug and hidden from future generations.”
Several in the previous generation probably preferred to let the tales die in the dust and be washed away by time. That is understandable, many of us prefer to gloss over the misdeeds of those behind us and polish the tarnished memories away.
At the root of the feud is often what we see in the movies and on television, money, revenge, property rights, and even a difference in beliefs. Swafford’s research points many of the early differences to one family aligning with the Confederacy and the other aligning with the Union. What makes it more difficult is the families were intermarried so cousins were feuding with cousins.
Some tales credit the beginning of the feud to be the 1863 murder of John Tollett, Jr., 72, who was tortured and killed by raiders supporting the North during the Civil War of which Aaron Swafford was believed to be amongst. Tollett was said to have a large amount of gold stored away and the raiders tried to make him give it up.
From this one Civil War period murder came decades of fighting.
I could tell you about the big election shoot out led by the Tolletts against the Swaffords and how many people were killed and injured or the logging incident lead by the Swaffords against the Tolletts.
There were many others featured in the book that show the violence moving from one generation to another and affecting other valley families and the law as it begins to take a more active role in trying to control some of the unruly behavior of its participants or their descendants right up into the Great Depression.
Of course, feuding killing wasn’t like regular murder in those days. Swafford quoted one lawyer’s comment that: we take into account whether the victim deserved killing, when he was asked why so many murders go unpunished.
It apparently was very difficult to yield a guilty verdict when the death occurred between two well-known feuding families.
Swafford wrote back then that “I am happy to report today the Tolletts and Swaffords are not only neighbors they are truly friends,” he said.
Personally, I was glad to hear this from my distant cousin. You see I am neither a Tollett nor a Swafford descendant, but I am cousins with both families with our family leaning towards the Tollett side in the feud as best I can tell. Those old suspicions and distrust flowed so deeply into the family beliefs, even I knew of them as a boy and was cautioned as a man to be cautious of dealings with the other family. I really never understood exactly why until I read his book because the stories were kept quiet. I was glad to bury the old feud in my mind by learning more but it never hurts to remind folks that it happened, so we can learn not to repeat the old mistakes.  I am pleased to say, my new friend and I didn’t restart it either.
Besides, I only have one bullet in my shirt pocket left from “In the Heat of the Night,” no need to waste it a feudin’ — you never know when Bubba might need a hand again.

A laugh saves us every time

When I find myself frustrated with the things that come my way, there are always two places I go. First, I go to the word of God; secondly, I go to God’s gift to the world — comedy. God must have a sense of humor; just look at all the great things he gives us to laugh at.

When I was little, I always looked forward to “The Red Skelton Show.” When the network finally took it off, I remember being very upset. I remember literally rolling in the floor and laughing, ‘til it hurt, at the routines and characters of this master entertainer.

As a musician, the craftsmanship of musical comedy by Victor Borge still fascinates me.

These skilled conveyors of mirth made me and millions of others laugh without bad language, lewd comments or off-color humor.

So many people have made me feel better in my life with just a few minutes of their artistry.

The situation comedies that I have seen a thousand times still can take me away and lighten my heart, shows like “The Beverly Hillbillies.” The network did not envision the impact those characters would have on America and the world. I am blessed to know Donna Douglas “Elly Mae Clampett.” She and Buddy Ebsen, Max Baer, Jr., and Irene Ryan have brought me endless hours of feeling good.

Irene Ryan’s “Granny” became so much a part of my childhood that her real life passing affected me as if she was a member of my family. I still have the newspaper clipping in my Bible after all these years.

She had worked a lifetime enjoying many successes, but it was not until God opened the door for her to play “Granny” that she lifted millions around the world out of their problems for a few minutes a day. I just have to think about some of the outlandish things that she, the Hillbillies and their support cast did to bring me out of the doldrums.

Saturday nights at seven at our house were the “Hee Haw” hour. It would be impossible to list all the wonderful cast members of that show.

Grandpa Jones, Minnie Pearl, Junior Samples, Archie Campbell, Gordy Tapp, Roni Stoneman and the entire cast could take the corniest routines and bring them life. They made Saturdays at seven something to look forward to.

I would be remiss not to mention the comedy talent of all the cast of “The Andy Griffith Show.” Don Knotts’ unique ability to take the simplest sentence or reaction and make it funny is an amazement. If there were comedic actors like that today, new television comedies might be worth watching.

I enjoyed “Frazier” too; those actors truly are superb with the material the writers give them, but I still would rather see Andy, Opie and all the gang.

I was once told that as an entertainer it is our job to take folks away from their problems, whether with a three-minute song, an hour-long television show or a live appearance.

I hope that my walk down memory lane with some of my favorite comedy people may have helped you think of something that makes you laugh, and thus makes you feel a whole lot better. I know I do.

The Christmas Doll

The winter of ’34 in the valley below the Gravely Spur was an especially hard one. A Christmas snow had blanketed the valley, making travel through the mountain passes treacherous, even if taken by foot.
With one false step, even those who knew the routes by heart could find themselves slipping into a snow drift hiding a potential fall.
However, for most of the children of the valley the snow turned it into a winter wonderland. Pearl, Ruby and the Wood boys were finding whatever they could ride to go sledding down Turner’s gorge. At the bottom of the gorge lay a pond formed from Frog Leg Creek which was covered in a thick coat of ice almost strong enough for skating. No one had any skates so they would simply slide across on the soles of the new shoes they received when the crops were sold.
While the children were unaware, most of the parents of the valley knew that the reality of the year had left them all in dire straits.
Toys at Christmas were largely a luxury in the valley. Even the well-to-do families were having trouble this year. The customary apple, banana or piece of peppermint stick candy that most of the children found in their stocking might be missed this year.
Pearl had sensed the concerns of her parents and with six children and four share-cropping families to help, she knew her father was doing all he could that year.
The unexpected snow however made it difficult for anything not already on hand to be brought into the valley.
Still Pearl hoped that she might find a little something for her Christmas morning that she could call her very own.
As she was sliding on the ice, she listened as the Wood boys laughed about what happened to what they got the year before.
“I can’t believe what George did to our present last year,” Woody said. “We got a whole string of firecrackers to split between us boys and he nearly run us out of the house with them.”
“He got up early Christmas morning and found them. They had this long string running through connecting them, so he took that loose and was counting them and splitting them up so we all had the same amount,” he said. “He threw that long piece of string in the fire. That thing jumped back out right in the middle of his pile. You should have seen George when those firecrackers started going off in every direction. They even jumped up in the bed with the rest of us and got everybody up in the house.”
But in spite of the snow, Santa would be making his usual stops at the Gravelly Spur no matter what. Because of the terrain, this year he would only make one stop in the valley and all the neighbors would go by Christmas morning and pick up what he had brought for the valley children.
Santa’s helper in the valley was Rev. Ben Smathers, who waited patiently Christmas Eve for Santa’s arrival. As the families came to Big Lick Church Christmas morning, he would then, one by one, distribute the gifts and the community would then gather for a celebration of Christ‘s birth.
Christmas morning, Pearl was up early, anxious for the trip to the church. In her stocking she found an orange and a stick of candy. When the family arrived at the church, she joined the other children in line at the tree and stepped up to Rev. Smathers. He placed in her arms a little blonde doll in a woven basket lying upon a blue cotton pillow.
“It is so beautiful,” she said. “Is she really mine?”
“Yes, just for you my dear,” he said. “So you take good care of her.”
As she looked in the eyes of her new friend, Pearl beamed with the joy of Christmas.
It was not stacks of gifts which made her eyes glimmer and her face shine with the light of the season. It was one simple gift of her very own given by the heart of a pastor who knew without his help many children would do without that Christmas.

Warsh and wear

Today most folks don’t give a second thought if they get their clothes dirty to go and change into another outfit.
In the valley below the Gravelly Spur, an abundance of clothes in the closet was not something that most folks experienced.
The Woods boys, like everyone, were often faced with limited things to wear. Little Woody had only two pairs of overalls and two shirts.
After working in the fields two days in a row, both pairs of his overalls and his two shirts were stained with red dirt and mud. He came to his older sister and said “I haven’t got anything to wear to school tomorrow.”
She took him into the bedroom reached into the closet, pulled out her extra dress, and laid it on the bed.
“Get that on and I’ll wash up your overalls.”
Little Woody didn’t have much choice in the matter it was either put the dress on or run around in his all together. So out of the clod covered overalls and into the gray colored dress he slipped.
So even though it was late in the day, she pulled out the washtub and the warshboard and scrubbed them overalls from rusty brown to a faded blue.
She took them out and hung them to dry on the clothesline, as one would normally do.
As the family went to sleep that night, the temperature dropped way below freezing. When the family slowly made their way out into the kitchen wiping the sleep from their eyes with the rooster’s crow, little Woody’s older sister sent one of the other boys to fetch the overalls while she cooked.
He brought them in frozen solid, straight as a board. He stands them in the corner taking a bit of delight in the feat.
Woody is standing there in her gray dress and says “What are we going to do, I can’t were those to school and I am sure not wearing this dress.”
She took the overalls and shirts and placed them on chairs by the fireplace and within just a short time the overalls and shirts had melted into something looking like the occupants had simply disappeared. She quickly ironed one of the shirts.
Woody could not wait to get out of the dress and as soon as the overalls were warm enough and before the iron had hit them, he was into one of the pairs and out of that dress.
While the experience might not have been so bad for little Woody if his older brothers did not see the whole thing as an opportunity for some good old fashion ribbing once they got to school.
When the Moss brothers asked the Wood boys what they had done the night before each mentioned some adventure they had but one of them had to say, “Woody didn’t do anything. He was afraid to come out of the house cause someone might see him wearing sister’s dress.”
Needless to say this was enough to get Little Woody’s blood to boiling and with a little more agitation its safe to say that clean pair of overalls picked up a little schoolyard dirt as the kidders found themselves on the receiving end of his frustration.
Good thing his sister washed both pairs of overalls or he’d been back in that dress all over again.

A leaf  of strength

The leaf swayed hanging on to the lonely limb tightly.  As if, to say to the world “I am not done and you are not going to make me fall down no matter what you throw at me.” All of its fellow leaves had given up the ghost blowing in whatever direction the wind desired them to go. Some managed to find a resting place at the foot of the majestic oak tree to spend the winter becoming the woodland blanket upon which the rain would fall before soaking into the ground.
My Grandad sat quietly on the porch staring at the leave bobbing in the wind.
He had come back from a tremendous stroke that took the wind from his earthly sails. The man who seemed would not bend to nothing could now barely lift himself from the chair in which he sat.
On this fall day though spying that lone leaf seemed to fortify him more than anything that anyone had to bolster his spirits. He stared endlessly watching its fight and as the fight struggled on from one day to two, to a week, his personal strength seemed to grow.
He managed each day no matter how the wind blew or what elements forced themselves past the mountain homestead, he walked himself out to the porch to spend some time sitting, later leaning against the porch post, and then standing as upright as the years would allow. He was always looking off towards the oak tree and its one hold out to the whims of the world saying nothing that revealed the focus of his internal thoughts.
As the winter came on strong, he would rise up and with his cane in hand, he eventually walked off the porch and towards that mighty oak tree going as far as he felt comfortable then returning to the porch. With each trip he got closer to his goal and he soon reached the tree looking straight up towards the hanging leaf.
There were a few times he would take one hand lean against the trunk of the tree and with the other lift his cane as far as he could trying to hit the leaf that centered his focus. He was just shy of reaching it and he would eventually tire and return to the warmth of the fireplace inside.
The light covering of snow did not even dissuade him to making his trek to the oak and returning home and with each passing day he grew stronger.
By the first signs of spring, he no longer limited his walking to just the tree and he was taken on even more of the activities that made his day sing around the farm.
It was on a spring day that the tree had refilled all its limbs and the greenery made it full and majestic. Grandad could no longer see the lone leaf from the porch so he decided to make another trek to see what had become of his now old companion who he fought alongside against the world’s elements.
As he reached the tree, he looked upon the ground to find it to no avail so he turned his gaze upward and amongst the lush green leaves there it was – one brown leaf still holding on to its place amidst the green youngsters around it.
Grandad’s face seemed to change as his face fought back the effects of the stroke moved to show a smile.
He raised his cane, almost in a sense of a salute to the lone leaf, then turned and walked down the trail towards the valley store. Emboldened by the lone leaf, he was figuring to hold on to his place in the world and stand as the man he was inside, no matter what nature threw against him.
We need more people in this world who work to overcome what they face finding the inner strength that God placed within each of His creations.

The trip to town

I remember as a boy, I always looked forward to Saturday when I was visiting with my grandparents. That meant we would be taking a trip to town. It could mean some time in the 5&10, the grocery store or a stroll around the Courthouse Square or visiting with folks at the farmer’s market.

Going to town was special and meant the folks would put on their best clothes and their best manners.

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