I don’t know how many times in the last couple years the phrase, “I wish I would have asked…” has gone through my mind. I wish I would have asked…I wish I would have asked my Grandma to tell me about Grandpa. I wish I would have asked my Dad to tell me about his childhood. I wish I’d asked my Mom more about growing up on a farm. But now, sadly, the opportunity to ask those questions is gone, gone forever as are all of them. It’s a shame that when we are younger, we don’t give much thought to what type of life our parents lived before they became our parents, after all to us, they are our parents and grandparents, nothing more. Their whole life is defined by being our parents and grandparents, right? I realized about ten years ago what I had missed out on by not wanting to know more. I’d often wondered about my dad’s childhood. He never talked about it and about the only thing I knew was that his father, my Grandpa John had died when he was a young boy and shortly after World War II started, he and his mom and siblings, Mable, LeRoy and Johnie, moved to St. Louis from the tiny farming town of Black Oak, Arkansas, in the northeast corner of Arkansas just outside the Missouri Bootheel.
If you are of my generation, you probably know the name Black Oak, Arkansas, not for the town, but for the 1970s southern rock band, best know for it’s tune “Jim Dandy to the Rescue. ” The band originated in the town of Black Oak, Arkansas and its lead singer was Jim “Dandy” Mangrum, a name that is proliferate in Craighead County. Black Oak also made the big time in James Grisham’s novel “A Painted House”. Grisham, a native of Black Oak, set his story in 1952 in the cotton fields of Black Oak.
Come back to my blog often and join me as I journey for my roots to Black Oak and beyond.