If I could save time in a bottle, The first thing that I’d like to doIs to save every day ’til eternity passes away, Just to spend them with you
If I could make days last forever, If words could make wishes come trueI’d save every day like a treasure, and then Again, I would spend them with you
How I wish I had been able to spend more time with my dad. I was only sixteen when he died from cancer and being an old-fashioned type of guy, he was the breadwinner and mom was the stay-at-home mom. We never really spent much time together. I remember him asking why I cried every time he talked to me. I didn’t know then and I don’t know today.
Dad sold car parts and had a sales delivery route around the county. I remember he once took me with him and we ate lunch in a restaurant. Only once. I remember he took me to church. The only time I remember he ever raised his hand to me was one evening when my brother and I were doing the dinner dishes. My brother was washing and I was drying and I kept putting dishes back into the wash water saying they weren’t clean (and in my defense, I remember they weren’t.) Dad must have had enough because he came into the kitchen and took his belt off and spanked me with it. I know it was only that one time. Back then it wasn’t child abuse, it was just considered discipline and it didn’t make me love him any less. I’ve never forgotten this. He wasn’t a bad father. He was a loving and Christian, if distant, father. (I have memories of my mom’s wooden spool too.)
The only piece of advice I remember him gave me was not to marry a man my own age. He said men needed an extra three years to mature, so be sure and marry someone older than me. I didn’t heed that advice because a scant two years after he died, being all of eighteen years old, I married my eighteen-year-old high school sweetheart. (I have a hard time now thinking of him being a ‘sweetheart’, he turned out to be anything but that.) , I’m sure if my dad had lived, he would never have allowed it and I probably would never have considered doing it. Why my mom allowed it, I don’t know, except she was still grieving and raising four children by herself. Seven years and two children later, I was a single mom with a dead-beat ex-husband who didn’t regularly pay his child support. Dad was probably right.
So where is all this going? I read a post on Facebook about a family who would memorialize their visits to a new place by bringing home a small vial of dirt they displayed in a cabinet.
Great minds must think alike. My dad grew up in Black Oak, Arkansas, a little blink of an eye just east of Jonesboro, Arkansas whose population in 2010 was 262.
About twenty years ago, when I was researching dad’s family, my son and I went to Black Oak. We had never been to Black Oak and I wanted to see the place where my dad was born and lived until 1944. In fact, I think dad only went back to Black Oak one time after he and mom married.
My great Uncle Sidney Johnson was a Justice of the Peace in Craighead County and when my Uncle Johnie married his first wife for the second time, Uncle Sidney performed their ceremony.
I wrote about my visit to Black Oak in my Shoults Genealogy post I Asked About Black Oak and how I pulled into a cotton field and dug several spoonfuls of dirt to take home for me and my brothers. It made me feel so close to my dad.
My “time in a bottle” is a small glass cruet that sits in my china cabinet and contains one cotton bole and dirt from the cotton field in Black Oak. I’m sure it wasn’t the exact place my dad stood and picked cotton, but it was close enough that my dad or my grandma, or even my grandpa, who died in 1937, may have walked on it.