Saturday, August 27, 2005

Where I’m From

Submitted by Cowtown Patty

I am from railroads and long trains with mournful horns singing late at night through the rusty screens of open bedroom windows . I am from Schwinn bicycles with handle-bar baskets and sidewalk skates strapped to tennis shoes. I am from bellbottom jeans, sit-ins and a lost soldier’s name on a metal-tagged ID bracelet.

I am from two-laned blacktopped country roads, shimmering with heat waves from a burning Texas sun. From white clapboard houses with root cellars and chicken wire fences. I am from small town beauty parlors with pink and gold speckled naugahyde chairs supporting large hooded hairdryers - futuristic brain scanners from a cheap sci-fi movie. I am from player pianos, Jewel Tea pitchers, and a purple dragon-embellished tea set from Occupied Japan with the delicate face of a geisha drawn in the bottom of each tiny fragile cup.

I am from bull nettle stings, goat-head stickers that push through rubber flip-flops, and horny toads with blood-squirting eyes. From wild tangy plums and mustang grapes that leave raw remembrances on my tongue.

I am from playing music by ear, homemade hooch and Forty-Two. From strong determined men and women who earned a living with their backs and hands. I am from hand-stitched quilts made with scraps of faded workshirts and christening gowns, from pillowcases made of flour sacks adorned with flowery embroidery. I am from Willis and Sarah, from Joe Gus and Lillie, and a family tree branch that reaches to France.

I am from vines that sprout from my ears after swallowing watermelon seeds; from long ago Indians who buried the hatchet up on Santa Anna mountain. I am from the grandfather with the whispered mental illness, kept locked away in a small bedroom for fear he would walk too far to remember the way back home. From a Cherokee princess and living off the "Rez". I am from a great aunt in Tishomingo and a great uncle more cowboy than any Louis L'Amour wearer of spurs.

I am from hard-shelled Baptists who proclaim their faith waist deep in the cold Colorado river. From stiff cardboard fans on wooden sticks advertising Mr. Goodjoint’s Lumber Yard passed out each Sunday morning before service. I am from homemade macaroni casseroles hand delivered to mourning families; from tent revivals and Tuesday night visitations.

I am from the central prairies of Texas, the Louisiana swamps and a rich Creole heritage. From the Black Dutch people of northern Germany and the French countryside of Alsace. I am from truck patch vegetables like turnip greens, black-eyed peas and okra. From cantelope for supper with fresh green onions, red beans and syrupy sweet ice tea; from leftover cornbread crumbled up in a glass of cold sweet milk before bedtime.

I am from a father whose bad traits often overshadowed his good, but never let me doubt for a second that he loved me; a man who fought personal demons inherited from a tough poverty-ridden childhood. From a mother dedicated to see her children in a better place; instilling a strong sense of getting ahead and living the American dream. No gold or material riches, no vast acres of ranchland to inherit, but a family history of hard-dirt farmers who survived the Dust Bowl and the Depression with determination and humor to spare. No famous names nor infamous ones, no governors or kings; just a long saga of everyday people living everyday lives with extraordinary courage, love and stubborn Texas gumption.