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AfriGeneas Genealogy and History Forum

Re: FAMILY HISTORY MONTH CHALLENGE #1

I tried to think of what to write about from growing up in our house on Mile Lane. I woke up this morning and it was raining outside and I thought about the tin roof and this is what came up with this:

“A Rainy Day”
Mile Lane Memories©

Mile Lane consisted of nine houses. If you are coming from town, our house was the 6th house on the road. If you are going to town, our house was the 4th house on the road. Our first house on Mile Lane burned down to the ground. The houses were all on one side of the road. There was usually cotton planted in the field in the back part of the house and usually a cow pasture on the side. Yes, we did smell the pastor but not all the time. It was according to how the wind was blowing. The house consisted of a living room with a wood stove, a big eat in kitchen, a bathroom and two and half bedrooms.

When I rise in the morning the dew is still on the grass on Mile Lane. Someone in the family told us that it was unhealthy to walk barefoot on the grass when the dew is out, especially when you had a sore or a cut on your leg or foot. The dew may infect you sore. I don’t know if that was true, but back then, I believed whatever our elders told us. As I think about it today, I have to laugh about some of the “tales” they told us.

There are many memories in our home on Mile Lane. That house was where we got our first bathroom installed. Yes, we were the first and only ones on the road that had a bathroom. I remember the hot water tank sitting in the corner. I still haven’t figured out why the house had two doors on the front of it, just a few feet apart.

We had a tin roof. That roof produced so many magical sounds, especially when it rained or stormed. Hearing the rain on the roof was the most gracious sound you could ever hear. Boom! Bang! Rumble! Tap! Tap! Crack! Those are some of the many sounds I heard on Mile Lane when a storm was brewing. We had many stormy days and nights on Mile Lane. As I close my eyes now, I try to take myself back to hear that sound. When it rained during the day you almost wanted to go take a nap just to hear the sound. You could tell when the rain was coming. Yes, you could smell it. You smelled it even before the first drop hit the ground. Many manufacturers have tried to duplicate the smell through air fresheners, fabric softeners, diffusers and many other fragranced mixtures. That smell can not be duplicated and that smell is totally different in the country than it would be in the city. Back then you could hang your freshly washed clothes on the line and when you brought them in you had the most magnificent smell ever. You couldn’t wait to get those fleshly clean sheets on your bed.

Our house had a ditch in the front near the road. When it rained, the ditch would get filled up with water and it would last for a couple of days. Sometimes we could see crayfish after a rain. I only recall seeing minnow fish. We saw many turtles that became our pets. The ditch seemed to be really deep when we were growing up. I recall how we always tried to jump from one side to the other and sometimes we didn't always make it. I drove by that ditch last summer and it only seems like just a little scoop.

Playing in the rain and the after rain was one of our pastimes. We didn’t worry about getting our hair messed up. We only worried about our hair on Saturday nights when we were preparing for church on Sunday. I remember when my Mom told me that I could no longer play barefooted in the rain. When a young girl got her big “P” Day there were many things that she could no longer do. The word was that the rain would make you have cramps. Cramps or no cramps, I still wanted to go barefooted in the after rain water.

Sometimes the rain came with storms. I remember my sister’s grandfather going outside and taking an ax and splitting a piece of wood. If I can remember correctly, it was supposed to “split the storm.” I don’t know if it did or didn’t. I just know that eventually the storm was over.

Any typical night we could have a thunder and lightening storm. My mom would wake us all up out of our sleep. We would all pile in the car and then drive about a mile to my great grandmother’s house and sleep until early morning. We would have to get up around 6 am or earlier to get home and get dressed for school. At great grandmother’s house we all had special sleeping arrangements. I always got to sleep in great grandma’s bed with the good smelling sheets. Great grandma had an additional six more people in her house. That made it a total of eight people.

I still do not know why we always went to her house. Can you imagine, waking up in the wee hours, getting in the car (pajamas and all) and the family driving through the storm just to get to her house? Can you image six folks going down a country road in a little green Comet car in the midst of a brewing storm? We didn’t have a phone, but when we got to her house, the light was on waiting for us. We all knew the routine and went to our sleeping quarters. This happened with just about every storm that came with thunder and lightning.

There were so many things that the rain water produced. Sometimes we collected it and we used it to wash our hair. I remember those hair washing days. I hated them. Sometimes I wonder how our hair survived. We didn’t always have shampoo to wash it in. I think we used whatever would lather. Don’t even mention conditioners. We had them sometimes, and when we did, it was a luxury.

The rain also produced a wayside garden. We grew fruits and vegetables in our garden. Our garden usually produced really good watermelons. We spent many summers sitting on the front porch eating our watermelon. The seeds were spit out on the side of the porch on the ground. Little did we know that we were planting seeds for a new garden? The summer days were passing by and something started growing by the wayside of the porch. The seeds that we spat out were growing a wayside garden. Before the summer was over, we had our own little garden by the wayside of the porch.

Through the storms and the rains, I remember a few tornadoes. We could see them from a distance, but we never seemed to get any damage from them. They always seem to pass over our house. Those times were the more frightening times.

As I look at the last photo that I took of the old home before they demolished it, I can see that throughout the years the tin roof rusted. That roof carried the sweetest sound. The closest I have heard of the sound is when rain is hitting on metal awnings, but nothing can duplicate the sound that the rain made hitting on the roof of the house on Mile Lane Road. The storms came with thunder and lighting, but they also came with that sweet sound on the roof.

When the storms came, we had to unplug every electrical item in our house. We were not even allowed to keep a watch on our arm. Once a storm came and struck our television before we got a chance to unplug it. So, there we were sitting in the dark scared to death and not able to speak a word. We saw many rainbows back then.

As I close my eyes, I hear, Boom! Bang! Rumble! Tap! Tap! Crack! Umm, seems like another storm is brewing. I think back and wonder will we be going to great grandma’s house, or will be sitting in the dark not making a sound. Now I hear another sound. Yes, the sound of rain on the tin roof. It looks like we’re winging this one at home. Well, I think I’ll just lie down right now and take a nap to capture the sweet, sweet sound of the rain on the tin roof. Wake me up when it’s over…

Regina Burch Spencer
Mile Lane Memories©


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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