"Weekly Rambling" -- Cousin Bill Reports on Decoration Day
"Have You Ever Heard of Decoration Day?"
Cousin Bill recently reported on a Memorial Day trip taken by him and his wife, Cheryl -- on Sunday, May 26th, rather than the expected Monday, May 27th -- to Elizabeth, Arkansas, a small backwoods town where the holiday is still called "Decoration Day":
We've had another busy week. It began with an early Sunday wake-up to make the three-and-a-half-hour, 162-mile drive to Elizabeth for the Decoration Day get together with the Hodges and Stephens clan. We saw more deer and turtle traffic than vehicular from Bella Vista to Eureka Springs . . . . Eureka Springs was asleep at 7:15 . . . the only sign of moving life was early rising tourists packing the local McDonalds lot and drive-through. Harrison was awake . . . . We stayed awake with a coffee . . . free at the Arkansas Welcome Center. By now, Hwy 62/412 was carrying more traffic as we approached Flippin, Cotter and Gassville . . . folks headed to Sunday School and pickups pulling Ranger boats towards Bull Shoals Lake and Norfork Lake.In my day, we hillbillies used to get off to an earlier start on the morning . . .
We made a brief stop for more coffee/soft drink in Mountain Home, then drove the remaining miles to Elizabeth . . . might mention we were among the earliest arrivals . . . two distant relatives manning the shelter house within the cemetery grounds, and greeting us with the all-important question . . . "Guess you've got good fried chicken inside that cooler?" The answer "No," followed by my "I'm Bill Hodges and this is my wife Cheryl." To which I hear, "Can't be, Bill Hodges is out there checking out tombstones." Took some talking but got 'em convinced there were two "Bill Hodges" in the world, cousins none the less. The convincer was sealed when I confirmed I was the son of another "Bill" who was Nora's eldest.I don't know why anybody would be off in a graveyard "checking out tombstones" -- those spots are already taken! But I'm pleased to hear they got their Bills settled. Otherwise, there might have been some feudin' . . .
Uncle Woodrow and Aunt Pauline, Aunt Virginia, Cousins Martha and Bob, Velna, Uncle Cran and Aunt Gay arrived shortly and more introductions ensued with other arriving relatives . . . all packing the requisite flowers, lawn chairs and coolers packed with good Arkansas eatings.I figured Uncle Cran would show up, there being food and all. I reckon Aunt Gay let him out of his man-cage . . .
We'd brought Molly, probably the first dog to sit inside the shelter house since the cemetery was fenced . . . and she was the perfect lady, not barking and getting petted by young and old, but figured by one relative as worthless when I advised she didn't tree squirrels. I courteously allowed Cheryl to go ahead through the buffet line (think she was about number 70 in line) and in doing so missed my chance for some good fried chicken breast. By the time I got in line (at the rear) the fried chicken was gone . . . so I grabbed some ham (four big slices), tater salad, cole slaw and three varieties of baked beans, ate and washed it down with some sugary tea (the label on the gallon sized jug said "unsweetened").Any dog that can't follow a squirrel up a tree IS worthless! Little wonder Molly was "not . . . getting petted"! And don't try to mollify me with her supposedly 'fine' qualities -- a faithful dog would have saved a place in line for her master!
I was just headed to the dwindling supply of desserts as an impromptu cemetery meeting commenced . . . although soon over, it ruined my chances of latching onto what I think was blackberry cobbler and for sure some Devil's Food cake . . . those getting stowed away in quickly closed coolers. I settled on some homemade cinnamon roll thingys (good) and some strawberry laced cake (excellent).Sounds like some folks didn't let that "impromptu cemetery meeting" stand between them and their unjust desserts! Surely none of our kin . . .
We enjoyed the eatin' and visitin'. The Hodges, Stephens and others are good folks and everyone that a-way is doing great. Uncle Woodrow looks like a million following his heart surgery . . . says he's out doing the goat milking morning and evening.Good to hear Uncle Woodrow's doing well and is even back to milking those goats! Keep at it Uncle Woodrow -- don't let anyone get your goat!
The get together was over around 1:30 and as we had the trip home, left about the same time as the Woodrows.Cousin Bill neglected to take any photos -- though he carried along a camera, but what for?! -- so I borrowed a photograph from the online site of a certain Victoria Lynn, who apparently hails from the village of Elizabeth and has written an informative piece worth reading, and also good for the photos of her own Decoration Day celebration a couple of years ago.
I wish I could have made the Hodges-Stephens memorial decoration and get-together, but Seoul is a bit of a stretch as far as trips home are concerned . . .