Friday's Crossing Revisited

Tempus fugit (time passes).  Time is relentless.  It never pauses, detours, or takes a respite.  Seemingly in a very short interval almost six decades have passed since my legal address was in the Friday's Crossing area.  It occurred to me that both of the readers or my memories might be interested in a final Friday's Crossing Revisited after sixty years.  They say you can't ever go back, but I will make the effort.

Appropriately, perhaps, my initial visit back was preceded by my attendance at a good friend's funeral.  It seems that I am attending more funerals now.  Possibly this has some relation to my being an octogenarian.  After due consideration, I have concluded that the only thing worse than being an octogenarian is never having the opportunity to become one.  As I attend my friends' funerals the sadness is lessened by the fact that it is not my funeral.  There is no more exciting way to begin a new day that to check the obits and not find your own name.

Since my friend's funeral mentioned above was near my old home site, I decided to be frugal and conserve gas (nearly four dollars a gallon at that time) by adding a side trip to visit Friday's Crossing.  Since we have used the name Friday's Crossing as the area designation of my memories, it seem appropriate for the revisit to begin right at the crossing.

After sixty years, there has been no change at the crossing.  No new construction has taken place.  The same buildings are there, only sixty years older.  The current store building is the same as it was in 1950, and the metal-clad structure across Highway 75 has aged well.  If you look metal-clad in 1950, you still look metal-clad in 2008.  Actually the traffic on Highway 75 through the crossing may have been reduced by the paving of the county road connecting Center to Snead.

A I leave the crossing and head toward the old home site, the first thing I notice is that the road is now paced and has a name- Wilson Chapel Road.  As I proceed, the first change is Mt. Moriah Church.  In 1950 this was a very active Primitive Baptist Church in a white frame building.  Now it is a smaller brick church, called Refuge Church.  Amazingly, the outdoor frame ladies' toiled is still standing.

Very near the church the former D. L Kirby Country Store (a business later operated by Barwick, then by my parents Floyd and Lillian Weems) is no more.  The building has been demolished and only the feed building still exists.  The former prominent country store with its mingled odors of hoop cheese (yellow cheddar in the shape of a hoop), coffee, chocolate, kerosene, and cigar smoke is jush a memory.  Also just a memory is a loaf of bread for five or ten cents, a box of crackers for a nickel or a dime, hoop cheese for ten cents a pond, and a cooler (drink box) filled with a variety of five cent soft drinks.  For the outlay of a dime, a very healthy meal of a moon pie and a Pepsi cola was enjoyed by many.

Perhaps my most impressive memory of the store is the non-electric gas pump dispensing gas for nineteen cents per gallon.  The pump must have been about eight or nine feet tall with a glass cylinder near the top marked to show the capacity in gallons.  The gas was hand pumped from the storage tank into the cylinder, the five, ten, and fifteen gallon levels, I believe, marked with the actual numerals.  To put the gas in the vehicle, the nozzle was inserted in the tank and dependable gravity made the exchange.  I have a vivid memory of riding in Toll Bailey's pickup truck and stopping to but two gallons of gas while on our way to a basketball game at Susan Moore High School.  Another memory is of a kerosene tank in a shed on the side of the store building where you could buy lamp oil (kerosene) for fifteen cents per gallon.

Between the store site an Wilson Chapel Church in one area, the traditional farm hiuses have been replaced with a cluster of tired, aged mobile homes with more clutter than you want to see and a soccer field laid out to one side.

Wilson Chapel Church, with was Methodist by denomination, still stands with a sign that says Church of the Nazerene.  Its lumber exterior has been replace with brick.  The church is showing its age.

At this point I have reached the area shown on the map on page 19.  From this point forward, I will only remark about the changes to the farms that existed in the thirties and forties.

About a quarter mile east of the church I pass the former home site of the Peam Pearman family.  There was a farmhouse and, across the road, a barn and a blacksmith shop.  Everything is gone without a trace.  As a prominent member of new Home Baptist Church, Mr. Pearman helped hold the political elections, which were held at the church.

The next locale is the Brooks Farm.  The tenant house has been replaced by a large attractive house.  The barn and chicken houses are gone.  The main house, however, is still there and in excellent repair.  Alas, also gone are Mr. And Mrs. Brooks, their daughter and their three sons.

Just past the former Brooks Farm I make a turn right off Wilson Chapel Road with our old farm one-half mile away.  Surprisingly the road also has a name- Quail Run.  This seems very appropriate to me as the area is very rural.  While the road is very narrow, it also is paved.  On the way we pass what was the Snell Farm .  All the buildings are gone without a trace.  The entrance is closed with a large gate where the entrance was.  A business is at this location now.  The manufacture measuring sticks which are used to detect the depth of liquids in tanks.

Just beyond the hill on a road which, when wet, has very slick soil.  In the thirties and forties it was impossible for an automobile to climb this hill after a rain.

At last we are at the old Weems home site.  For twenty-five years my family lived at the farm.  They built a house, two barns, a chicken house, cleared at least twenty acres, and forced the reluctant sandy soil to support two adults and five children.  Today the original house and barn sites have been bulldozed flat.  The second house has been destroyed and all the land has been encouraged to return to its natural condition.  There is no evidence of any farming, not even a small garden.  The only evidence that the Weems family ever occupied the place is the chimney of the second house.  Please note the picture of the chimney.

While mother nature and not our effort put it there, one other reminder of our residency is the black walnut tree.  It is still there, and I noticed numerous walnuts on the ground.  The tall tree must be nearly a hundred years old (see photo).

While at the site, I attempted to locate the spring which for twenty0five years provided sweet tasting, clear water.  There is no evidence a spring ever existed.  I recall a dry summer trip to the spring to get two buckets for the kitchen.  As mentioned previously, I found a skinny, undernourished possum sharing the water.  With the spring gone I wonder where the possum and other wild animals obtain a cool drink when the earth is dry and hot.

The fields we worked so hard to cultivate are overgrown with a mixture of trees, briars, vines, and other plants.  The chimney is the only evidence of twenty-five years of effort and success.

Leaving the farm in a somewhat despondent frame of mine, I drove past the Self farm where once the land had helped support a couple and, I believe, nine children.  The entire area is now bare.  Once again there is no evidence they ever existed.  At one time they must have had a hundred guinea hens who laid hundreds of eggs in the springtime.  One of the sons collected guinea hens in the spring when there was such an abundance and sold them to the rolling store which came each week.  Even at twelve cents per dozen, over a period of time he acquired enough cash to enable him to leave the farm and find a job in Birmingham.  I believe he told me he had two hundred dollars.  Over the years he was very successful and now resides in a nice lake home.

The next farm site as I turned toward New Home Church is the Kent Farm.  The house still stands and is in use but the other buildings are gone.  The next farm, the Jennings-later the Smith farm-is also gone without a trace.

I'm glad the New Home Church site is almost my last stop for it has been improved tremendously.  The wooden frame building which was so austere has been replace by a beautiful brick structure with a cheerful white steeple.  The church yard where numerous mule reams were tied to trees is now paved.  The plain hard pews have been replaced with vanished cushioned pews.  The outdoor toilets are no more for the building now has indoor plumbing and bathrooms.  The appearance indicates that the church has prospered.

However, my sister who currently attends the church said they still have the same number of congregants, forty to fifty, in attendance each Sunday.

I left the church site with a cheerful outlook and proceeded to the former Bailey School location.  Nature is reclaiming the building area and play ground.  There is now a marker showing the location and history of the school.  In addition, we could see the girls' outdoor privy that was constructed by the WPA in the thirties.  I did not visit the privy but it still exists.

NEXT: More Bits and Pieces