Saturday, January 18, 2014

maybe just my memory alone


As I've mentioned a gazillion times here within this blog ~ I grew up on the mountain on Scenic Highway.  As a kid, like most of the kids I knew, I stomped all over Lookout Mountain neighborhoods. 

I'm thinking of one road in particular today ~ Agricola Drive.  Most of it was a long stretch of dirt road back then that I'd walk or ride my bike down countless times forth and back.  Agricola wasn't a high traffic road, usually if I walked with pals, we could stroll right down the middle side by side without having to move to the shoulder in single file.

Agricola Road was a nice walk from my front door.  To take the long way, I'd just travel up Scenic Hwy until I reached Tuckahoe Golf Course and then take a horseshoe right turn onto Agricola Drive.  It was a little longer with a few uphills on the way.  When starting on Agricola Drive from the top, the golf course would be on the left.  My mind still sees the road as it runs by a little dump site right at the edge of the golf course.  Every now and then I'd go dump diving with a friend.

The dump was at the end of Hazel Drive.  That was where my shortcut would come out if I wanted to get to Agricola Drive quicker. There were no uphills to Agricola Drive, a really quick fun trip if on a bike.  I could zip and zig-zap my way to Agricola in no time.  I'd pedal down the hill in my front yard, on across Scenic Hwy, onto and across my neighbor's yard.  I really didn't have to pedal much.  We had some nice steep hills in my old neighborhood.   I'd cross over onto Red Oak Road and ride down to where the Condra's lived.  I'd take a sharp left up the Reese's driveway and pedal on through their flat backyard which took me to Hilltop Road.  I'd connect with Hazel Drive then to Agricola (close to the little dump).

Once on Agricola Drive, it was downhill all the way.  From the dump I remember the sharp curve in the road that ran by an old farm house.  Classmates, Karen and Rusty Morgan used to live there for a short time.  They had a sour apple tree in their backyard.  I never was invited in when on a visit, but was invited to play in their yard and partake of the fruit thereof.  The Morgans moved before we graduated elementary school.  It's been a long time but I still remember them.

After the sharp curve the Agricola straightened out for the rest of the way to Fairview Road.  There was a little cottage on the right where a little lady always seemed to be outside in her straw hat and apron working in her garden.  It was a small tract of land but she made use of every inch of it with flowers here and vegetables there.  It was very quaint.  It was about there that I could see the rear of Pearly and Ben's Store in the far distance.  Pearly and Ben's was my usual destination.

Almost immediately to the left of the little lady's cottage was a large pasture on the left that extended along down Agricola to Fairview Road. Pine trees lined the boundary of the pasture, dense vines and weeds covered the rusty fencing.  Sometimes cows could be seen scattered in the field.  Most of the time the field was vacant of cattle and full of weeds.

This was the eerie area of Agricola, because in the overgrown field was an old two story abandoned house.  The boards were rotten and dark.  The windows were vacant and black.  If ever there was a real haunted house, it was that house on Agricola.  If I were afoot, I'd quicken my pace.  If I were on my bike I would tighten my grip on the handlebar pedal a little faster.  I would never coast by that place.

I liked Agricola Drive except for that old house.  Anytime I walked by it, my heart would find it's way into my throat.  Once or twice I ended up making the return trip home a little too late for my liking.  I was on foot and did not like walking the way back up that road at dusk.  The house seemed to have moved even closer to the road.  It seemed to have a spirit about it, the blackness within the windows even blacker.

I had dreams of that place countless times as a young boy.  In the dream there was only one street lamp and the light from the street lamp offered the only safety for me.  Dusk would quickly turn to night and I had to run, run and run up that dirt road into the night if I ever wanted to make it home again.  There was no quick way, no safe way, no light for my feet.  I had to pass that old house and hope that I woke nothing that dwelt in it.  I ran as fast and as quietly without sobbing - only silent tears.  It was a horrific dream for a 10 year old.

The road now is paved.  Pearly and Ben's Store is gone.  The old house no longer in the field or in my dreams.  It's all very different there, but the memory is still very vivid.
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