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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Time's Winds (A Poem)

I don't feel like writing anything very often these days.  Poetry especially seems to come hard for me and I'm not quite the tormented soul I used to be.  Perhaps today was nostalgic or perhaps....

Time’s winds
Blow from dreams to memories
Then back to dreams again.

Billowing sails
Whisk us across an isle filled sea
As what was and what might be become one.

Beautiful beach
And rocky shoal both call to us
Serene voiced and thunder’s roar.

Siren’s Song
Always before us leads us onward
Beneath this clouded sky of longing.

Precious day
Pressed by night on either side
As we swiftly fly before those winds .

June 19, 2014
Frank Van Hoose

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Brother and the Possum

I wrote this in Word as I did  not have access to the blog at the time.  I won't vouch for the formatting but I hope the story is still there.

 My Brother and the Possum
I tell this from memory of the last time my brother related the tale to me. I cannot recall whether or not I have posted it here. So, if I have, forgive me as I’m getting older and us older people love to repeat our stories. Sometimes with alterations as our memories become more subjective.
From about early 1958 until September 7 of 1961 our family lived at a place called Spring Knob in (very) rural Southeastern Kentucky. We lived in a small log cabin which was the home of whomever was keeping watch in the forestry tower there. I have many memories of that place for sure. A lot of things happened there which were formative to my childhood.
This particular story is one I do not personally recall happening but was related to me by my elder brother. Not sure what year it was but I do remember my brother quit high school so he could complete vocational school prior to turning eighteen. He is twelve years older than I so this would have had to have been between 1957 and 1959 as those were the years for him being between sixteen and eighteen.
Spring Knob tower was on the top of a hill four and one tenth miles from Route forty. I will never forget this measurement as my Dad often quoted it in his stories. And, repetition is the key to learning, as we have all heard. There was a rutted out dirt road which lead from the blacktop out that way. They have built a lot of homes out in that direction now but then it was mostly deserted. I really can remember only one house that sat near the road and that house figures prominently into this story.
The reason I recall my brother’s age is because at the beginning of this tale is his habit of running from Route 40 to the cabin at Spring Knob after his ride from the vocational school dropped him off so he would have time to do some afternoon squirrel hunting.
It was during one of these runs this story begins. Recall that one house I said sat near the road. Best I can recall it was about half way so about two miles from the road and the same from our house. The occupant of this house was a well known moonshiner. I forget the name and that is not important to the story at any rate.
This particular man was very good at making whiskey. In fact, he bought used bourbon barrels from distilleries in central Kentucky and aged his home made liquor in them. Aging liquor in charred barrels is where the dark color and much of the smoky flavor originates.
On this particular late afternoon he hailed my brother on his way home from school and asked if he’s like some “char whiskey”. Being a member of my family (who never turned down a drink in our lives) he stopped in and sat drinking and talking with this man for some time. When he was ready to leave the man asked him if he wanted some apples and gave him a larger, brown, paper grocery bag full of them to take home with him.
What with the bag of apples and the skin full of whiskey I expect he no longer felt like running so he was walking on homeward when he saw a possum (OK, for the picky, O’possum) cross the road in front of him and climb up a nearby tree. He sat down the bag of apples and gathered rocks to throw at the possum to try and knock it out of the tree. He did not succeed (wonder why his aim was so bad?) and when it got too dark to find rocks he began throwing apples at the critter. Finally he connected and knocked the possum out of the tree. When it hit the ground, instead of running, it ‘sulled’ up. A trick of the possum to ‘play dead’ hoping to fool whatever is messing with it.
So, my brother picked up the possum by the tail and the remaining apples in the bag and headed on home. He said it was well after dark when he got home and everyone was in bed already. (One must remember we had no electricity at that cabin so dark mostly meant bedtime.) So, he sat the, much diminished, bag of apples and the possum down on the floor and went to bed on the sofa where he always slept.
He said he was awakened the next morning by our mother screaming and the possum sitting in the middle of our kitchen table.
As I recall he has not related to me what happened after this or I have just forgotten. Of the many things we could say about our childhoods in Kentucky the one thing we can never say is it was boring.

We Used to Be Like You

We know how you see  us
Grey hair or none at all
Wrinkles and age spots
Full of aches and pains
Endless repetition
Of boring stories
Told a million times
But, we used to be like you
Young and vibrant
Whole life ahead
No idea of mortality
If not exactly the same
We had similar problems
Similar dreams and goals
We rebelled against our parents
We coped with peer pressure
We faced hormones
And all they brought us
We hated school
We were bullied
We loved to sleep late
Our music mystified our elders
We dressed like  tramps
Our hair was a disgrace
We know what you think
Since we thought the same
No, we've not forgotten
What it is  like to be young
We've just lived through it
To be what you see now
But we never forget
We used to be like you.

Frank VanHoose
June 17,2014