In particular my maternal grandparents, Bill and Ruth Thomas
My memories have made that wee curtain into a thin and frayed veil
Although my grandparents are now shadows in my memory, they are still with me as more than whispers in my heart and soul
I welcome them — these gifts from beyond
When my mother was growing up (in the Great Depression) my grandparents had a home and a business in Corona, New Mexico. Which at the time had a railroad station and was a throughway onto bigger places.
Granddad’s business was a gas station and garage.
Will built it with his own hands, and he built the house they lived in.
Grandma planted Heavenly Blue morning glories on either side of the front porch and they put a white picket fence in front of the house.
The back yard was just fenced in.
Anyway…one of the stories I keep remembering fondly is the tramps would ride the rails into town jump off and then look for places to eat or live or just hang out until jumping back on the train.
Or the people moving from the Dust Bowl broken and frequently so discouraged to almost seem dead, having to stop because of vehicle problems.
My grandfather never believed in giving a man a hand-out or credit. If you couldn’t pay or were desperate he always had you work — sweep the floor, help to do ‘something’. He would tell Danny (my brother) and I: “A hand-out never gives a person self-respect. Always, always give them self-respect THEN help them out. And when you help them out, it’s okay to give the shirt off your back, because it always, always comes back to you in a different way.”
Now, back at the house, just up the road a short way, and not far from the railroad tracks, Grandma always kept a big pot of soup on the wood stove. If a person came hallooing at the front gate, either she or Momma would ask the person in, dish up a big bowl of soup sit it in front of the person with a hunk of buttered cornbread.
Then the person would doff their hat (for almost always the person was a man) say: “Thankee, Ma’am, sure is a fine meal.) And move on out the back gate heading toward the gas station to see Mister Will.
Now, since most activities were in the back of the house and through the iron gate back there Momma and her family never really went to the front of the house. But one day Momma had walked down to the garage and decided to come back to the house through the front picket fence gate.
When she got there she was surprised to see lines scratched into the pickets next to the front gate line which looked like this IIII IIII IIII
Running into the house she brought her mother back out who just stood there non-plussed. Not knowing why or what it meant she sent Momma down to the Garage to get Will.
When Will got back and looked at the fence he broke out in laughter. “Well, I’ll be,” he declared…”Now I understand why we get so many folks eating soup.” The drifters marked the fence letting folks know here is a good place to eat and where to get a small job.
Memories…a small tear in the veil from beyond,
From my heart to your world,