Kids are back in school and yellow buses run up and down country roads night and morning.
But the bus no longer stops at my old home place. One look will tell you why. I drove by the old place a few weeks ago and was stunned and saddened by the visage that greeted me. The ash trees in the front yard were dead and bark peeling from their massive trunks. Likewise, the majestic oak that witnessed countless visits by family and neighbors no longer offered shelter from the sun, it’s barren branches also in decay.
The house, though still standing, was surrounded by tangles of shrubs and hosts of other dead or dying drought-stricken trees. It was hard to imagine the countless family pictures taken in the yard, the laughter of grandchildren wafting on the summer breeze, the lowing of cattle in the barnlot or Dad in overalls and blue shirt standing by his Ford pickup, reaching into a pouch of Red Man.
It was not the place I and my brothers grew from boys to men, but the graying corpse of what remains of memory.
For 20 years — from 1957 through the spring of 1977 — Hamilton boys bounded out the front door every morning to catch the Fair Grove school bus. In our early years it was just one of three — Elkland and Marshfield also ran our county line road. I and Russell were the first to catch the bus daily after moving to the farm; my kid brother Stephen was the last, until his graduation in 1977.
I distinctly recall Dad commenting how strange it seemed that fall to hear the bus coming, then barrel on by.
These many years later I don’t know if any buses run Route UU. All the kids I knew along the road are grown and gone. Many of the old homeplaces, too, if not corpses, are aged reminders of another time.
As Scriptures remind us, “To all things there is a season.”
Gone, too, the season of the Hamilton boys on Route UU.
Copyright 2023, James E. Hamilton; email firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of his works in Ozarks RFD 2010-2015, available online from Amazon or from the author.
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