A Family Homecoming: Down on the Farm



It was a  quiet, cloudy evening with the moon shining behind the clouds like a silver oyster in 1945.  The darkness of the night settled over the barnyard of animals like a blanket of stillness only disturbed by the occasional hooting of an owl.  In the rolling, green hills of Distant, Pennsylvania sat the unpretentious  Shelton\Moore family farm.  The farm  with its old barn and house creaked from random gusts and  billows of wind that  swept over and through its aging foundation .The farm provided food, clothing, and shelter during the good times and the bad times. Tonight was a time for a family homecoming.  James and Mary Alice welcomed family with homemade hospitality.  Everything eaten that evening came from the farm, especially the jams and apple butter that was served with coffee as desert.

As the daylight hours dimmed, oil lamps were lighted and placed at the ends of a long, family table.  The smell of fresh coffee filled the air mixed with the aroma of homemade apple pie.   The flame from the lamps glimmered and  flickered while painting glowing reflections against the silverware and china.   As everyone  passed, and tasted  the desert; there was a mood of solemn reverence, a peaceful sharing, and an unspoken love between and among the family as they bonded.  As a prayer was recited that gave thanks for their daily bread; the children began to understand the importance of saying the right words, thinking the right thoughts, and living the right way.  These understandings were implied by the words and actions of James and Mary Alice.

Now it was time for storytelling, everyone was dismissed to the living room, where they sat collectively around the wood burning fireplace that glowed with red and blue embers.  The fired filled the room with warm caresses and dream filled thoughts of sleepiness.  The men walked over to the fire and lighted cigars before falling into a comfortable chair.  Grandpa brought an oil lamp into the room and placed it on the table next to his chair where the grand children sat around and listened to his tales.  The children sat on a planked floor that was  covered with cowhides and a bear skinned  rug.  It was the bear skinned rug that caught the inquisitiveness of Roger that evening.  “Grandpa, how did you get such a thing?”   He snickered and smiled, grandpa knew it was his cue to begin the evening of storytelling.  As the hours passed, the warm fire and the effects of a wholesome dinner had everyone in the mood for bedtime.  As Roger slept that night, he remembered that grandpa loved storytelling and loved his family.

As I hung up the phone for the evening, I paused to thank my cousin, Roger, for the story  of  his family memory.


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