Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Part 2 - ROADS

(Note: The image of the horse above is not too unlike Ole Red. Red was a solid red Kentucky Saddle Horse (now called American Saddle Horse) except that he had about a dozen white hairs in the middle of his face and a white left rear hoof. He was 11 days older than me and we grew up together! )



Our house is located four miles north of Millry Baptist Church on the Millry-Isney Road.. The road name has been changed to Washington County Highway 11 / Sam Wood Road. The road was unpaved until 1960 when the county cleared, graded and paved the 6 miles from the school to the Washington-Choctaw county line, 1 1/2 mile to the north of our house.

The old road had several spots that became treacherous to get through after a season of rain and being torn up by loaded log trucks. This was really evident during winter months. The Aunt Ella Hill, Dipping Vat Level, Farrier Hill, Flim Jones Hill and Hattie Craig Hill were some of the bad spots over the years. I guess Farrier Hill was the worst, as it was very steep about midway, had a slight curve near the bottom and had very dense, gumbo clay along the top that would hold water for months. Not only was it hard to get up in wet weather but it was very hard for loaded trucks to pull since it was so steep. Some of the trucks that had only six wheels (only one rear axle) and hauled short logs had to be turned around and backed up the hill to keep the front end from coming off the ground as it did while trying to go up forward.

Once, Joe had a load of Mr. Ira Holston's Sugar Cane and a wooden barrel on the tractor wagon. While he was going down Farrier Hill, the loaded wagon began to push the tractor sideways. All he could do was to knock the tractor out of gear and "let 'er fly" on down the hill. He finally stopped at about the creek bridge, and had to go back and pick up all the cane and the barrel that fell off the wagon.

Of a summer night, what few cars that ran the old dirt road in the forties and fifties could be heard for distances up to two miles. Just by the sound of the motor, I could tell what make vehicle it was, in most cases whose vehicle it was and, sometimes, whether the driver was drunk or sober. The latter was determined by hearing how hard the car was hitting bad bumps in the road.

Dunbar creek, which runs along through our land and is the property line in some places, the Providence Church branch and the Becky Grimes branch would flood and run over the roads if there was a heavy rain. Once in a while the flooding would be so severe that the bridges would wash out. Also, the creek would rise up into the Creek Bottom and Big Flat (Fields on the place).

If the roads were virtually impassable and the school bus couldn't get through, those were the days we "hoofed" it the four miles to school. Once, there was about two inches of sleet on the ground. We all walked to school to find that there would be no school for that day or the next. Guess what! We had to make up those days on Saturdays. That seemed to be cruel and unusual punishment!

A couple of noteworthy items about Daddy's tenure as a rural carrier (More on this later). Every time there was a considerable amount of rain, a couple of places in the roads got so bad and boggy that no one could get through with a car. When this happened, there was a colored man, named Washington, at one place and Mr. Price Singley at another, waiting for him with their mule teams, ready to pull him through the mud to get the mail through.

Another time, Daddy knew there had been hard rains all night, so he left home before daylight to get to the Post Office before the creeks flooded. He said that when he got to the Farrier Bridge, across Dunbar creek, water was about six inches over the bridge. As he drove across the bridge, he felt it shake. Later, it was discovered that the bridge had floated downstream about fifty yards and lodged against a tree on each bank so well that the county graded a road around to it, and it was used there until a new bridge was built a couple of years later.

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