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A Path Well Trodden

In 1953, I was five old years, living with my parents on Highway 74 west of Rockingham. That same year, my granddaddy deeded an acre of land to my parents to build their first house. At the time, the land was being used for pasture that joined my grandparent’s home off Highway 220 north of Rockingham.

Dad and Mom contracted a local builder to build their house. Dad worked at Carolina Standard, a local home supply and lumber company, and through the company, Dad was able to buy most of the building materials used to build our new house.

I was very pleased to be moving so close to my where my grandparents and my Uncle Everett lived. I had spent a lot of my young life on their farm while my parents worked.

Before the house could be built, the cow pasture fence had to be re-routed so the cows wouldn’t interfere with the new construction.

The cows didn’t like this one bit, because for years they used the same path that would have run straight through the middle of our new house to get back and forth to their feed barn.

Also along the white-sand path were several pear trees, a hickory nut tree, a large apple tree, white dogwood tree and several pecans trees which helped shade the path.

As our new house was being built, my grandma allowed me to walk down the old cow path and watch the carpenters. Wanting to see more without getting in the way, I would climb up in the apple tree and eat apples while I watched. I could always look back down the path and see my grandma peering out her kitchen window watching me while she cooked or washed dishes.

Back in those days, there wasn’t such thing as county water. Folks in the county had to dig or drill a well to have fresh water. My grandparents had been using a shallow hand dug well with a rope, well bucket and windless to draw up their water and sometimes in the summer it might go dry.

Seems my Dad talked my granddad into drilling a new thirty-inch well and putting in an electric pump to serve both houses. The new well and pump house were located just feet from the old cow path.

As a young lad, watching all this new construction and well digging was something to behold. Things I had never imagined were taking place right before my young eyes.

Before the year was over, we had moved into our new house. I even got my own room along with a new single bed. The hard-wood floors in the house shined like new money, while our new wood heater in the hall kept us all warm.

As time went by, Dad built what he called an out building along the old cow path and it wasn’t long before my aunt and uncle moved from West End, N.C., and built themselves a new house not far down the path from us.

With all this foot traffic, the old white sand path became well-worn and smooth. At night you didn’t even need a light to make your way along the path. Even both of my uncles who had poor eye-sight could walk and never leave the path.


Over the years, that same old worn- down cow path had seen a lot of happy days for animals, as well as people walking along its surface. At the end of the path was my grandparent’s house and it was a central location for our family to meet. If I had a quarter for each time I walked or rode my bike up and down that path I would have been millionaire today.

My friends and I built a horseshoe pit running parallel to the old path and spent many an hour throwing horseshoes under the shade of the pecan trees. I also had my basketball goal just off the beaten path.

I can still remember seeing my aging granddaddy making his evening trips up the path to the well house and getting himself a fresh dipper of cool water before he retired for the night.

On my twelfth birthday, I got my first real gun; a nice single-shot Remington .22 rifle. Ma, as I called my grandma, made it my job to keep the crows, blue jays and squirrels out of her pecan trees which lined the path. I can remember early fall mornings would find me slipping along the old path hoping to get a shot at one of these pecan thieves high up in the trees.

When I started driving a school bus, we were allowed to bring the bus home after we had run our route. I can remember pulling my bus up in our yard, putting it reverse and backing it just past the old path; knowing this was the correct spot to park my bus.

We all know for all the sunny days, there has to be a few cloudy ones along the way. And that’s the way it was along the path.

I remember one evening after I had run my bus route, I had just parked my bus. I saw my Uncle Everett making his way along the path towards me. I could tell from the look on his face that something was wrong! What he told me while we both stood in the path just about brought me to my knees. Seems my grandma had fallen and broken her arm earlier that morning. While she was at the emergency room with her arm, a chest x-ray had been taken and what it showed was not good. The doctors thought it might be cancer and they were going to have to operate.

Several days passed and Ma had exploratory surgery only to find out the dreaded disease had spread all over her body. They just sewed her up and sent her home with some pain killers.

About a week later, Dad brought Ma home and as they pulled in front of Ma’s house, I ran out the path to greet her but she was not the energetic and lively person I had known all through my young years.

Although I still made many a trip along the path to see my Ma before she passed, I never experienced the joy I had felt before she got sick.

Time marched on for a few years down the path, only to see the death of my granddad and my uncle. 

Today the old sandy cow path has grown over with grass. The apple and pear trees have long since rotted down. The old well has been capped off and is not in use. Several of the once beautiful pecan trees still stand, to give off some shade along the path. But the old white dogwood tree that my Ma had planted along the path years ago, put a tire around the trunk to protect it, and still blooms every year reminding me that my loving grandma is still watching over me.

As we look back at the paths of our lives, do they bring back memories that we would like to forget or memories of joy that will ever be imprinted in our minds till we leave this old world. It is my hope and prayer that we will all take the right path that will guide us to spend eternity with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.                                       


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