My Grandma Price lived at the bottom of Howard Hill, next door to Bill Neighbor’s Grocery Store in the community of Sixteen. That alone was reason enough for me, as a kid, to venture out on it and to face the danger of falling in the creek every time I visited with her and crossing that “dangerous” foot-log.
That scary and long foot-log stretched across the creek, near the road by the old iron bridge located close by the Houston family’s house, less than a mile from the Howard Hill community, this side of Ruttle’s house…Joe, Delma and Helen’s.
It was a shortcut, my oldest brother, Price, tried to convince me, but never did, to Ma’s house, back years ago, when after school on Fridays we would hurriedly jump off Mr. Hall’s school bus, dash home, say goodbye to Mama and speed off to spend the weekend with our Ma Price.
I don’t remember the reason, but my sister, Inez and my brother, Sam always went to Ma’s house together and my oldest brother, Price and I were traveling partners. The first thing we did was greet Ma with outstretched hands to accept a nickel and scurry down the path from Ma’s house to Neighbor’s Store. As kids, we had tromped over time, over and over on each visit.
The little Bull Durham tobacco sack pinned on the bosom of Ma’s dress was always full of change, and kept us from looking Ma straight into her eyes with our hellos and “I love you Ma’s.” She would hug us tightly and always seemed just as glad to see us as we were to see her, and so was our Uncle Haywood.
Bill Neighbor’s Store was in a separate building from the Page family residence, a few yards, but Mrs. Lilly would always open up the store and patiently wait as we scooted up and down the candy showcase with eager eyes and a nickel to spend.
I wouldn’t see my brother, Price again until dark brought him in. He took advantage of every minute of daylight. There seemed to be so much to enjoy and entertain us at Ma’s house and Howard Hill, the community made up of the Price generation of kinfolk, all of whom I have so many good memories. There was Uncle Will Price and Aunt Della. Aunt Lela and Uncle Jess Taylor, Billie and Georgia, my cousins. Uncle Haywood who still lived at home. Uncle Grover and Aunt Bertie, Jimmie and Reba, Uncle Tom.
There was “My Aunt Pink” and Sis. The Clark family and the Grayson’s whom I thought were kinfolk and other cousins and Howard Hillers.
I remember spending hours seated at ma’s old pump organ not making a sound, my legs too short to reach the pedals, while singing “The Old Rugged Cross” at the top of my voice.
From Ma’s saved up newspapers, I would sit in the floor cutting our “Flapper Fannie” cartoons to take home to show Mama.
The Howard Hill Pentecostal Church was close enough to Ma’s house you could almost touch it, making it a bit easy for Ma to sometime attend services, although she was legally blind. She was a lifetime member in the old church…loved, known and addressed by just about everyone as Aunt Sally.
We grew up knowing she was also loved and pampered by Grandpa Maxwell Blunt Price who had passed away before we got to know him.
He was twenty years her senior. Ma was mother to Grandpa’s five children and their 4 children together…Dewey, my mother Flora, Gomer and Haywood. In all, a very close and loving family.
Ma’s house and land was sold in the early 2000’s to the Pentecostal Church after being owned by Bill and Annie Decker, both Jenny Linders who lived in it, and taking excellent care of for years while raising their family. Annie assisted and worked for Ma when she was a young girl.
I’m unable to do much today, slipping around with my fractured back and arm in a cast (informed yesterday that I would be sporting for six to eight more weeks) but things are never so bad that they couldn’t be worse. I’ve already graduated from my slick new walker to my Duro-Med four-footed, adjustable walking cane and in every prayer, thanking God I am right-handed.
Now, I admit, I’d worry all day on Friday in school years ago about the fear and danger of crossing that foot-log, stretched across the creek on the way to Ma Price’s house with my brother Price, but I knew once across that foot-log what awaited me.