Volume 3, Number 8
Sunday--was always my favorite day on the old Homestead in the Ozarks, as a boy. It was a "special day" for all of the farm inhabitants--sun shone more friendly, bird song, coming from all directions, sounding quite special and bursting happy. The King of the Roosters, perched on the gate post in front yard, telling all within range of his voice, that he owned the "Whole works", and was very handsome.
The horses, turned out to pasture for the day, a hard week's work over, kicking and rearing in a fierce mock battle, ending it with a race across the lush green pasture. They enjoyed their hard-earned freedom. They too, knew it was Sunday. Roll, eat, too stuffing, soak in the quiet glad day, which was theirs, to do as they pleased.
Guinea hens chattering, and at times taking wing, swift as a pheasant-- that they are, from one field to another, or perhaps to light in the Concord grape arbors that were a purple and green glory. They were welcome--there was enough for everybody.
A long line of fat Mallards waddling and chattering on their way to the pond for the day. The drakes dressed in iridescent green, their wives in neat brown, coddling and bowing to their handsome lords, predicting a happy day, with much fun, swimming and diving, to the cost of many pollywogs, bugs, and like luscious tidbits for ducks.-Sure, it is Sunday--Don't need a calendar to tell that. Why, everybody knew it couldn't be any other day. Could be felt--in the air, sun, and general goodwill, radiating over the whole place.
Turkey cocks strutting and gobbling in proud stiff poses, kings for a day, their neat alert ladies in their dust bath, coyly admiring. Even the hogs had come home from their range, and were sprawling around in the rail fence corners, grunting their content, and well being.
The "first bell" is heard, clear, sweet, and calling from a mile and a half away, in the belfry of the old white school house, where Sunday School and Church were held each Sunday. All the district's people from "grampas Grammas, through all the ages to babies in arms or 'buggies' ". Boys in their Sunday Clothes, maybe new--but always neat, clean, and well mended. Girls of all sizes, pretty in their rustling starched ginghams and calicoes. Gay, fancy ribbons on blonde, black, brown, and gold hair, that was in pigtails, to buns and rolls.
They came by trails and roads, through the sunny, quiet and pleasant woods. Some riding spring wagons, with kitchen chairs in back for seating the youngsters or, better, a hay-filled wagon bed. Others, in rubber tired buggies, surries, and hacks, wheels shining, black and glistening, from the washing in crossing the creek.
"Young bucks" and their girls, ahorse, double; girls in the saddle, and their beaus behind. Still others, afoot. All meeting in front of the schoolhouse in time, before second bell, to swap gossip, renew friendships--smiling, talking in low friendly and contented voices. Happy with all the world and their neighbors--sincerely glad to be together. The youngsters speaking to each other shyly, embarrassed a bit in their Sunday finery, but proud of it too--not acting at all as though they had been in school together all week in this same building. They were different people entirely, with a different personality.
A casual onlooker would not suspect that those same youngsters had passed "notes" around in school last week--from overalled and barefooted swain to calicoed and also barefooted, princess--and reverse--perhaps getting a sound whipping with a hickory switch for their doing so. A more observant person would soon notice that, despite their being grouped as to sex and age, they were not entirely strangers to each other, as their actions might have you believe. Sly glances, smiles, nods, and blushes could be noticed, fleetingly, here and there. They were, every one, very concious of each other's presence, but would be hanged, individually, before they would admit it.
Their parents, mothers and fathers, older brothers and sisters, were also grouped according to age and marital status. Mothers' talk was, in most part, of children, babies, present and expected, with some dressmaking, quilting, and general work, of common interest, weaving a pattern through it--all with lively good humor and good will.
Dads were going over crop prospects for the year. Prices of beef, hogs, and
poultry. Also other neighborly common interests, as to health of the individuals,
progress of the sick, and allocation of turns in "setting up" with the
more seriously ill, taking their turns seeing to it that there was always some
one on duty until no further needed.
Older brothers, talking girls, hunting, fishing, and their work. Boisterous, and sometimes aggressive, with perhaps a bit of jealousy at each others success with the fair sex. Older sisters, talking of beaux, past, present and ones hoped for. Clothing, coming local gatherings such as "Dusk to Dawn" shindigs. Literary society Meets, singing, prayer meetings, and who was going to take whom. All of them happily chattering away at the same time. How they unscrambled and made sense of it all, I will never know, but it seems that they did.
Second bell. All inside, quiet and orderly -- still in groups, through Sunday School and Church, to home, more solemn and thoughtful, a bit more quiet, but entirely happy.
They spend the afternoon visiting in their homes, or with their friends and neighbors--all going home in time to "feed and milk" before dark -- calm, well content.
The week days, too, are fine, and busy, but with a perceptible difference -- they are not "Sunday".
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly