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Expressions of Yesteryear

I think most grandparents seem to possess
A language that is all their own.
Mine remembered their growing up days
When there was no telephone!

When young I’d walk to Grandma’s house
Which was not very far away,
And when I’d knock on their back door
She was often heard to say,

“Well, lift up the latch and walk in…”
But there was no latch on her door.
It could only be locked from the inside
So I knew she meant something more…

She explained that back in her childhood
And folks lived ‘way out from town,
There were no chimes or buzzers
Rather, simple contraptions found.

A small rope hung out through a hole
Tied to a latch inside by the door,
And if you saw it from the porch
You could enter where lots of love was in store.

And if my visit was rather brief
Grandma would say something like this---
“Did you come here after a load of coal?”
Confused, I still figured something amiss.

Then one day when I visited longer
She explained that expression to me.
This is how folks got their fire again
In the days before gas and electricity.

You went to a neighbor with your firepan
And asked for some glowing coals.
But you didn’t linger long in your task
With food to cook and a family that was cold.

Sometimes my visit would end near noon
And Grandma would say, “What’s your hurry?”
Then Grandpa would ask me to “put on the feedbag---
You needn’t rush off in a scurry!”

So I’d stick around for a home cooked meal,
Maybe corn sticks and turnip greens
Along with mashed potatoes and sliced tomatoes---
These were wonderful times to me it seems…

At times in the evening I stayed too long
And Grandpa would sleep in his chair…
His chin drooping down to rest on his chest
And I stared at his snow white hair.

Grandma would turn her old radio off
And put all her crochet away.
Then turn to me with a rather deep sigh
Saying, “It’s nigh time to hit the hay.”

When small, these expressions made no sense
And I knew we were not in a barn!
Still, I associated it with going to bed---
Was this what they said when back on the farm?

Back then, going to bed was like “bedding down”
And some mattresses were filled with hay!
This phrase often heard in the country
In those early days this was their way.

Grandma and Grandpa are both deceased
Yet they left me a great legacy.
They lived out their days loving the Lord
Serving others and walking humbly…

Charlie Covington
November 19, 2017
Arlington, Tennessee