My childhood memories begin with our home, which was a stones throw from a small country road in the outskirts of a small town USA, Ware Shoals South Carolina. The drive way was semi circular and covered in sand. It was a very large driveway. Down to one side of the drive and to the side of the house ran a big grassy field which ran all the way to the back and bordered a different road than the one in front of the house. At the other end the drive connected with the driveway of a huge brick Baptist church that sat on top of a big hill. We had several trees scattered around the yard, each with a story of their own. The house was an old wooden country home covered in tar sheeting that was coated with a design to look like bricks. There were cracks in the walls and in some places you might even see a rag or blanket carelessly hanging out from the inside.
The house was put together poorly and you could feel the wind blowing through the cracks in the walls. We used an old iron pot bellied stove fueled by coal for heating and cooking. There were still burn marks where the pipe let the smoke out through the ceiling and during one of those cold winter days someone had put too much coal inside and caused the pipe to get red-hot all the way up to the top, accidentally catching the ceiling on fire. I was still to little to remember when this happened. My mom told me it was my older half brothers fault. I do remember vividly digging out pieces of coal from the snow and ice in the winter-time.
We had one water source in the house that was located in the kitchen. If you had to go to the toilet there was always a bucket in the bedrooms. The out-house is what we called the toilet. It was located about 100 yards behind the house down a trail into what I thought was a haunted forest. I do not remember using the out-house very often because the thing was leaning to one side and the hole you sat on would not let me sit down without falling in. I had to hang onto both sides to keep from falling into the mess of crap and maggots crawling down below. Mostly we just went into the edge of the woods with a roll of paper and squatted down somewhere. I remember my mom laughing when one time my grandmother had went to the woods to use the bathroom. Somehow my grandmother had sat down in the middle of a patch of Poison Oak and she scratched her bottom for a long time.
When my brother and I took a bath we used this huge metal tub filled with water outside. This was usually sat up beside my dad's barn that was covered with wire in the front for all of his chickens and pigeons. It was on top of this barn that I would pretend to fly my plane until my mom,if she found me would ground my plane with a belt to the backside. The big trees scattered in the clearing around the house always offered some kind of adventure. I remember several of these in particular. There was the huge black walnut tree that my dad had hung an old tire in to make a swing for my brothers and me. Right underneath this same tree on the other side from the swing sat an old T-model automobile sitting up on some blocks rusting. I learned to climb to new heights in the huge maple tree in the front near to the road. I also learned a valuable lesson; the higher you climb the further you fall. My special tree was an old cedar tree about 20 feet high. I could climb up inside of it and nobody could find me; ask my mom.
A little further away from the house in the back was the trail that led into the haunted pine forest. The pine forest was always so dark and I never went there at night. You could follow the trail through the forest past the out-house and it would pass by a small hand dug pond and then enter a clearing where my dad planted a garden every year.
My dad's family comes from a long line of farmers whom worked hard for a living. My dad never learned to read or write. He worked for 20 years in the cotton mill doing hard labor intensive jobs. Later he went to work for the state of South Carolina cutting grass on the sides of the roads until he hurt his back from falling off the tractor. He never had enough money to send my 2 brothers and I to college. I used to go hunting and fishing with my dad so we would have extra food in the house. My dad always had numerous hunting dogs. These were my pets until my dad would decide it was time to sell one of them or trade it for one better. We also had a garden every year of about 1 acre. My dad would plant corn, tomatoes, and beans mostly. These my mom would later put into canning jars for the wintertime.