Nannie Maude Reynolds shares memories and thoughts about Winston County’s past.
Sometimes at night when I cannot sleep memories of my childhood come flooding back. I can see the places and events as if they happened yesterday.
Scenes along the country roads in our neighborhood are as fresh in my memory as if I were seeing them now. The only paved road in my childhood was now Hwy 15. The county had a crew that worked the roads and the Supervisor of our district was Mr. Earl Woodward. One of the men who worked for him was Roy Hopkins. In my mind I can see the road grader with Mr. Roy at the helm as it plowed its way around the community. It slowly made its way and left the dirt roads smooth. In the winter the ruts in the roads were so deep the axles of the vehicles touched the ground and drug along in the mud. Many times folks had to get out of their cars or trucks and push them out of the mud.
Mr. Roy ditched the roads and this left a ridge of dirt along the edges of the road. We played in that dirt and also in the dirt in the ditch. There was no danger of getting ‘run over’ by a car because there were so few cars at that time. We walked almost everywhere we went and rode a wagon if the trip was longer. There are so many interesting things to be seen along the road sides. Children today will never know the pleasure of climbing a tree to find muscadines along the roadside.
They are a relative of the grape, they grow on vines, but do not grow in clusters and when ripe they are dark purple. The juice is sweet and luscious. They make wonderful jelly and could be had by climbing the trees and shaking the limbs to make them fall to the ground where we picked them up and carried them home in our skirt hems or our hat if we were wearing one. We also swung from the vines in the trees. Then there were the violets that bloomed so profusely along the route as we rode the bus to school. They were beautiful. The name of the plant denotes the color. It was such a deep, beautiful violet color. They were wild and grew in clusters. We called them “rooster heads.” I am not sure why we called them by that name. They were tender and did not last long in a bouquet.
In the summer the road sides were covered in the yellow flower which we called, “Black eyed Susans.”
Beautiful butterflies swarmed around them and bees hummed as they flitted from flower to flower. We picked them by the handful and made beautiful bouquets. I still see these flowers along the road sides and every time I see them I am nostalgic. There is another flower that is similar. It is yellow, hardier and has a bristly stem. I think it is the cone flower. In winter as we rode the school bus taking us to school, we saw ice spewed up along the road side ditches. I have often thought it looked like the pictures of castles that I had seen in books.
The spires of ice were of different heights and looked almost like a city skyline. The shards of ice between the red dirt made them look like crystal cathedrals. We often saw rabbits and squirrels as we walked. I never remember seeing deer back in the day.
Today, the population of deer is such that it is dangerous to drive on country roads at night lest one cross the road ahead of you. Lives have been lost due to the large population of deer in our area. I guess paved roads are a good thing. It sure makes traveling a lot more pleasant, but at times I want to get out and walk and look at the things in nature that God has provided. Sometimes it seems that we are so busy that we do not see the beauty that God has placed all around us. We need to look for the good things in life.
Editor’s note: Nannie Maude Dewease Reynolds has recently released her third installment in the fictional history of her family roots. Anyone interested may contact her at 662 724 4631 or 332 South Money St. Noxapater, MS 39346.