Last Saturday I took a drive to a place very dear to my childhood memories – my grandparent’s farm on Sand Mountain. When I was a kid I remember spending time there and it was like a whole new world compared to my normal life in the city. The farm consisted of a farmhouse, barn, several sheds, a couple of garden spots, two ponds and lots of animals. In fact, I learned a very good lesson early on during one of my visits to the pasture – when you fall into a cow patty it’s best to get up quickly and find a garden hose. In my memory the farm looked something like:
My grandparents were actually only the second private owner of this land since they purchased it in the 1940’s from the Dean family. Prior to the Deans the land was owned by a railroad company who had purchased it from the US government. The farm actually sits on the old Cherokee boundary line which separates Cherokee hunting lands from those of the Creek.
My dad remembers that the old farmhouse which was built by the Dean family in the late 1800’s, still stood at the time my grandparents purchased the land. It had a dog trot down the middle much like many farmhouses of the 1800’s. My grandfather, with some help from his father and brother, used the wood from the old farmhouse to build the barn in the picture above, as well as a new house. This “new” house is the one I remember as a child.
There were seven of us in the immediate family and when we all came to visit, things were a bit crowded in the small farmhouse – not that any of us ever noticed. My parents, brother and I all shared one bedroom and there was only one bathroom for the entire house. My dad remembers this bathroom being added. When he was growing up there was only an outhouse.
I distinctly remember the winter time when the glass of our bedroom would have a coating of ice on the inside by the time I awoke each morning. Summers were full of outdoor activities like making ice cream floats and learning how to lasso a june bug. On occasion we’d even get to take a walk in the woods off the side of the mountain. A walk like this would yield great finds for a kid – an empty turtle shell, bird feathers, and maybe even an occasional arrowhead.
By the time I was a teenager, my grandparents sold the farmhouse and moved to the small apartment in the back of their country store. They kept the land itself and it is still owned by our family today, but things look quite different…
The bottom photo shows how nature has reclaimed anything familiar. Instead of open farm land on both sides of the road, now fully mature trees find a home. The top photo is the same view as the barn photo above, except now the barn has fallen in and is no longer visible.
Seeing something from your memories in such an unrecognizable state is bittersweet.