May 13, 2009 Edition

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Rain rain go away

Dewitt Rowlett
Guest Columnist

"Rain rain go away little D.C. wants to play," Mom sang those words to me many times on a rainy day out at Possum Trot.

One redeeming thing about our little three-room house was the front porch with the cane bottom chair where I could sit and watch the rain.

Mom thought I was just being depressed about not being able to run and play out in the yard. Actually I just liked to watch and listen to the rain.

Like children imagining shapes in the clouds, I would imagine words from the sound the raindrops made in the puddles around that front porch.

Rain Rain, drip drip, no work today, too wet, hip hip hooray.

There was a large farm across the gravel road, owned by the Ashley family, we all simply called "The Ashley Place," and then due north of the Ashley Place's line was another large farm owned by the Harvey family we referred to as "The Harvey Farm."

I can hear my mom and dad speaking still to this day. Words I really loved to hear in the late spring and fall. In the spring we were chopping cotton and in the fall we were picking cotton.

"It's raining up on the Harvey Farm and its coming this way," they'd say. "Oh it's already on the Ashley Place."

That meant it was gonna be too wet to work for at least the rest of the day and if my luck held out maybe even the next day.

The old house is gone but when I am out in the Possum Trot community, I still like to stop at the old home place. I look across the road to the Ashley Place and onward to the Harvey Farm and I say the words out loud to myself. "It's raining up on the Harvey Farm and it's coming this way. Oh it's already on the Ashley Place!"

Yep I am a sentimental old rascal but somehow in that instant, standing in what was my front yard, I can feel my parents standing beside me smiling at the little boy so happy to have a day away from the cotton patch.

***

I saw something this morning I have not seen in many years. It was a reel and blade push-type lawnmower and behind it was an older lady who looked amazingly like my grandmother. So many years ago I would look across the field and see her out in her yard.

I was just driving by her house this morning but the urge to stop and help this lady was almost overwhelming, I was reminded of days gone by in the Possum Trot community where I discovered America and lived for 18 years or so.

I didn't stop; I probably would have scared the lady to death because people just don't do things like that anymore.

I thought of that day when I was around eight, maybe nine years old, I walked over to my grandmother's yard, took the mower from her and mowed her yard.

I had no thought of any kind of reward; I just thought that kind of work was too hard for a 60-year-old woman. No, really folks, kids actually thought like that out at Possum Trot back in the 40s and 50s.

It took most of the day to mow my grandparents' yard, but the big pecan trees kept it mostly shaded and I was so proud of how it looked as I finished each section.

I must admit the 50 cents my grandma paid me prompted me to come back each week for what quickly became "my job."

Fifty cents would take me to a movie on Saturday night and buy popcorn, snow cone, soda and a Superman comic book after the movie. It was a pretty good day's wages for a young lad.

Hmm, I wonder if they still make those old reel-type mowers? Nah, never mind, no thanks folks. I have a riding mower, I can do without the man-powered machine.

You see I am now 65 years old and in need of some help out in the yard ~ by the way ~ where are my grandchildren?

Dewitt Rowlett of Vilonia is a native of Possum Trot Community, five miles west of Swifton. He writes of his life in rural Arkansas and is gaining quite a fan club of people who are of the nostalgic persuasion. Comments can be sent to him through e-mail at deemar12@alltel.net.

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