Friday, 09 April 2021 11:48

COLUMN: Country living at the Comer Place

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The Comer Place, Ellerbe The Comer Place, Ellerbe J.A. Bolton

When my wife and I got married many moons ago, we moved into a little house in downtown Ellerbe.

Neither of us had ever lived in town, except when my wife was small, her family lived in Lumberton for a while.

We both longed to live in the country, but we managed to stay in Ellerbe for three years.

Although we had good neighbors in Ellerbe, I just wanted a place to raise a garden and have my hunting dogs.

Around this time, Mr. Joe Comer was mayor of Ellerbe. Joe also owned an auto parts and mechanic shop located on Main Street, which was Hwy. 220 back then.

Although I didn’t know much about Joe at the time, we became good friends while I lived in Ellerbe.

I knew Joe had been raised north of Ellerbe in what is called the McFayden community. His dad was a farmer but had been tragically killed when his farm tractor rolled over on him.

Joe’s mom stayed at the farm for a short while but was persuaded to move to Ellerbe to be close to her family.

Meanwhile, I asked Joe if he would rent me his mom’s house in the country. To my surprise, he said yes and even allowed me to do some work on the place and took it off the rent.

The only thing bad about the place was it was surrounded by cultivated fields. In the fall, when the crops were in, the farmer would disc the fields. When the March winds came it blew sand all in the house so it would be everywhere, even inside the window sills. Why, it made me think of what it might be like living in a desert.

After we moved in, I was cleaning some stuff out on what we called the back porch. One of the things I found was a slop jar, or private john as some folks used to call it. 

As I loaded my arms full of stuff, I also had the slop jar swinging on one finger. I headed out the backdoor, and lo and behold, who should drive up but our preacher and his wife. They went right by me, went around the circle drive, and all the while I could see the smiles on their faces. Now I wonder what they were thinking? 

The Comer place had two small ponds on the property and I enjoyed wetting a hook once in a while.

Also on the property was a mule barn, a pack shed, tobacco barn and an old chicken house. The chicken house was where I parked my old tractor and worked on my go-kart.

The homeplace kinda looked like an oasis surrounded by fields. Although I tried to keep the yard mowed, there were overgrown bushes and trees all around the house. This provided a good habitat for rabbits, snakes and mice. Yes, I ran across a bed of copperheads not 30 feet from the back door. My bird dog got bit twice while I lived there, but I managed to save him both times.

Another time, right after a heavy summer rain, I was standing at the front door screen. I had my nose just about touching the screen wire, breathing some of the refreshing air after the storm. All of a sudden, a large rat snake that had crawled up on the outside door facing poked his head around the door just about an inch from my nose! Folks, if’n this won’t make you check your britches, I don’t know what will!

Talking about mice, we kept them under control except for one smart mouse. Why, that mouse dodged traps, wouldn’t eat the rat poison, and although I tried as hard as I could, I couldn’t get him to move out of the house. Our cocker spaniel would even chase him from one room to the other, but the mouse would always get away.

It happened one moonlit night that I had just come in from coon hunting. I was carrying my loaded .22 rifle in the back door when I spotted the mouse under the kitchen cabinet. My wife had fallen asleep in the recliner in the other room. I knew I had a clear shot at the mouse and I took it, right there in the kitchen. The shot quickly woke my wife and she hollered, “Have you lost your mind?” Well, needless to say, I sent that mouse to mouse heaven, but you know, we never did have any more trouble with mice.

Like I said, I bought me an old used tractor and did some gardening. Joe would come just about every day in the spring and summer to work his garden spot. We would strike up a conversation and he would tell me about some of his experiences growing up on the farm. I think he used this time as a stress reliever and just a quiet time to get away.

We stayed at the Comer Place for three years while my wife worked at Textile Motor Freight and I worked for the D.O.T.  We then purchased our own home near Rockingham, but I still have many fond memories of the Comer Place.

Today, the old house has been torn down and the land pushed off, but the land still remains in the Comer family. They have built a new barn and workshop. Hopefully, someday a nice new house will again adorn the beautiful landscape we called “The Comer Place.” 

J.A. Bolton is author of “Just Passing Time,” co-author of “Just Passing Time Together,” and just released his new book “Southern Fried: Down-Home Stories,” all of which can be purchased on Amazon. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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