March 08, 2009

Uncovering the past


I constantly tell my kids stories about life around here, what growing up in this place was like.... In telling these stories I often relay stories that I have heard from my father. One such story involved a rock.... And today that rock came back to life for my kids...

James, Patrick and I were out and about on the Kawasaki mule. We had taken a ride over to the old chimney that stands where a plantation once existed. During the ride I began to tell them about all the things around here that are hidden from view, but hold a deeper meaning and connection to our own past. James, Patrick, and I stopped to check out the chimney. We crawled all over it and checked out the stones that were piled next to it. Foundation stones and bits of the chimney are my guess. When I was around nine or ten myself, I spent some rather interesting lost afternoons poking around there with a metal detector. I located several interesting items.. Horse shoes, nails, bullets, hinges, forks, knives, tons of things... I kept them in two old paper grocery sacks I had gotten from my mother, for years they sat in my closet. When Julie and I were married I tossed all the stuff out..
Pretty bad move...

I told them about how the land all around here is terraced. It was done when this was all plantation, so the crops would not wash away in the rain as it's very hilly here. I showed them the chimney and we talked about what it must have been like when the place was in full swing. Crops, barns, livestock... I then dug into my own education and reading experiences telling them about life on a southern plantation, and the truth about slaves in the region. It must have been something to see. We also stopped to check out an old tree some beaver had set in to a while back.

James and I began to talk about what it would be like to be an archaeologist like Dr. Grant from Jurassic Park. Hey.. he's five... So the wheels began to turn in my mind and I thought of something that we could investigate in true Dr. Alan Grant style, minus the dinosaurs of course...

I told him that we would undertake our own dig..

I began to tell him a story of how granddaddy had left a piece of his history here. There was a huge rock near a stand of holly close to my grandparents house. When my dad was around ten to twelve, 1945 to 1947, he carved his initials in the rock while they were playing... The specific reasons behind this are still a bit of a mystery....

I knew the approximate location of the rock so we ran home, loaded up on all the required equipment archaeologists should have, brushes, dustpans, a compass, a knife, a gun, and a little composition book for notes... We traveled over to the area of the rock and began our search. After a little while I located it and the dig began in earnest. The weather cooperated being a rather perfect sunny day with low humidity. We worked up a sweat as we cleared the rock of pine straw and moss. When several areas of the rock were uncovered and we were failing in our attempts, we were ready to accept defeat and head home in low spirits. Then James suddenly asked, "What's that dad?"...

It was a deep groove cut into the rock.. That was it!!! We both grew in excitement as we began to uncover it. We were tossing moss and straw like two old prospectors running across a new vein of gold in a mine thought to be tapped out... Dirty, sweaty smiles mixed with laughter punctuated the uncovering process.. We brushed the dirt away as best we could and James began to take notes. I ran back to the mule and got the camera. We spent the next hour or so making notes, taking measurements, and snapping pictures for further analysis. If you can't tell, the initials are DP for Delmos Perry.. my dad.

I talked to his brother a little while ago, my uncle Thomas. I asked him if he remembered the details surrounding my dad carving in the rock. He said, "Lord god Clay, that was so long ago and we were always into so much stuff, there ain't no telling what was going on that day..."

We had a really good time uncovering a bit of the past this afternoon.. To learn about and see the evidence of the malfeasance of their granddaddy is pretty cool to say the least.. It gave me valuable time with the kids and a good reason to get them out of the house. And I always love the opportunity to tell them stories from their own past, because if I don't.. nobody will.... And those stories are just too damn good to go unrepeated...

6 comments:

The Angry Georgian said...

That's just awesome. I wish I had something like that.

boo said...

What a wonderful afternoon ya'll had. It's amazing how those little pieces of our personal histories creep back in, and make new memories built on the foundations of old.

james said...

aarcheologoel ainkuhoxj vgmwtypzaxxx xsjdbfqwroo7

(parental translation: i had a good time being an archaeologist with you today dad, can we do it tomorrow?)

Junebug said...

What a great way to spemd an afternoon.
I know James had fun taking motes.He showed me when I came home.He told me he had fun finding gdaddy's stone.
He said he wants to make a stone with his name (imitials) on it too.
Who knows maybe some day he will!

Just me... said...

I have to agree with AG.. That is wonderful!! To have that for you and your boys is just marvelous.. :)

wendy said...

You know how I feel about a good story to tell.

This is just great, Clay. What wonderful memories you are creating.

Stories for all to tell later..