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Uncle Rufus and the Essay

Dear Uncle Rufus,

My teacher told us to write an essay about what life was like when our great grandparents were young. Since Great Granddaddy is gone and you’re his brother, I thought you might help me out. What WAS life like when you were young?


Leroy Ledbedder

Dear Leroy,

I had to reach way back in mah mem’ry, but I was able to pull out a few thangs ‘bout how we lived long ago here in the holler.

So, whut was life like when I wuz young? I could tell you how me and yer great-granddaddy used to walk two mile to school ever’ day. I could tell you thet we had to do chores after school, like milkin’ the cow, feedin’ the chickens an’ cleanin’ out horse stalls. Ma and Pa kept us so busy we wuz too tired to get into trouble. An’ I guess that wuz a good thang.

At night we all gathered ‘round the kitchen table an’ Ma read out loud to us while we et popcorn. Them wuz good times.

Chil’ren played diff’rent back then. We played baseball at recess an’ the girls played dolls till they got old enough to whisper secrets to one another. Too bad them youn’uns today got they faces glued to the screens on they phones. They hardly know how to carry on a conversation with somebody whut’s in the room with ‘em.

They’s lots more I could tell you, Leroy, but I got to thinkin’, mebbe yore teacher is lookin’ for somethin’ else. Mebbe she’s wantin’ to know ‘bout whut mah boy calls culture.

I had to dig deep in mah haid ta think of this word mah daddy used, Leroy. It’s accountability.

We had accountability back then. If a man got sick or hurt an’ couldn’t work—why, the neighbors dropped by and chopped his fahr wood or brought a pot o’ soup for supper. We looked out fer one ‘nother.

On the other hand, if a man was too lazy to work and his fam’ly wuz ‘bout to starve, the men from the holler got together an’ paid him a visit. They let him know if he didn’t start bein ‘sponsible soon, they’d pay him another visit, and make him wish he had. Like I said, Leroy, we looked out fer one ‘nother.

Us young’uns wuz taught to respect older folks, not like them today whuts gettin’ in people’s faces and yellin’ stuff that don’t even make sense. If I said somethin’ bad ‘bout our teacher, or ‘bout our preacher, or even the president, Pa would send me outside to get a switch.

Do ya know whut mah son just read? The liberry in his big city ain’t chargin’ fines fer overdue books no more. Now, how do they think they’s gonna git folks to return stuff when they ain’t getting’ no penalty fer keepin’ it? I guess the big shots runnin’ the place got so much eddycation their common sense flew out the winder.

And thet’s mostly whut I ‘member ‘bout the good ol’ days. Wish we could go back to ‘em, when all I had tah worry ‘bout wuz how to spell Mississippi an’ how to keep the cow from steppin’ in the milk bucket.

Hope this helps yer essay. Write an’ let me know what grade the teacher gave ya. Here’s a little secret: take her a apple; it gets ya on her good side.

Yours truly,

Great Uncle Rufus

How about you? Though you may not have lived in the holler, you may have recollections of the good old days. Feel free to comment below.

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