Memories linger, waiting to be called up by a photo

Published 1:09 am Sunday, December 8, 2013

Today has been one of those filled with reflections of the past, beginning early in the morning when I was looking for a certain photo and stopped to look once again at some I had forgotten about.

Going through old photos brings back all sorts of things, even looking at the background and remembering places that are no longer there. One was taken in front of an old gas pump at the store at Sheridan that has been gone for a long, long time. Memories abound for our family around that store.

When I was a teen, I ran for FFA Queen and at the time, the winner was the girl who collected the most money. It was the FFA fundraiser for the year. Every day after school I would go to the store and sit there with my little metal container, waiting for people to put money in so I could win.

That store was the center of the neighborhood, and just about everybody one knew would come in sooner or later — sort of like going to Wal-Mart now! Nickels, pennies, dimes and quarters — it all added up. Because of the kind people who came in that store after school and after work, I won that contest.

Another photo that caught my attention was one taken in my grandmother’s yard in Bogalusa when I was just a very little girl. I can actually remember being there when the photo was made, but I don’t remember who took it. Little things linger in our minds just waiting for something like a photo to kick them back in again.

After lunch, I took my rake and some Christmas flowers and went to the cemetery. Some people find it strange that I like cemeteries, but I do. First, I cleaned up around family graves, including raking the leaves from the little plot where my parents, daughter and granddaughter were laid to rest. As I placed the bright Christmas flowers, the memories loomed very large.

Then I walked around to other gravesites of uncles, aunts, cousins and others, recalling many fond memories of their lives and how they had touched mine. My twin cousins, Ray and Roy Smith, are there, and every time I walk by I remember the good times we had playing together.  

Other cousins I knew and loved are also there, their markers revealing their life and their death. One cousin was buried the day before and the funeral tent was still standing.

Since I am related to most everyone there, I spent a good while going from plot to plot, thinking of each one and sharing memories — sometimes speaking aloud. I loaded my rake and went home with memories of so many still in my mind.

I rested awhile and then started supper. Pork chops and gravy, peas, buttered biscuits and good cane syrup. The syrup was sort of like dessert, since I hadn’t planned any other.

It has been a while since I have tasted good syrup made from homegrown sugar cane. So when a family friend and fellow church member, Glen Hartzog, mentioned that he and some friends had just finished making syrup, I was all for a quart jar of that great southern delicacy. It is so good! And while eating biscuits and syrup, another “sweet” recollection appeared.

As children, a snack for us would often be a biscuit left over from breakfast with a hole in the center made with our finger and filled with syrup. If we made the hole too deep, the syrup would run out of the bottom of the biscuit down our arm and drip off our elbow.

It was the peanut butter and jelly sandwich of our day. Since Mama made biscuits every meal in those days, the snack was pretty plentiful. I don’t remember where the syrup came from, but I know my family didn’t make it — probably bought it. In later years I remember Mama buying Blackburn’s Cane Syrup at the grocery store.

Things happen to all of us on a daily basis to jog our memories and bring back many of those precious days that have passed and will never be again.

I find most of the time I can remember those old times much better than those that happened yesterday or what I am supposed to do tomorrow.

It apparently comes with aging.

Retired Lifestyle Editor Bob Ann Breland writes a weekly column and may be contacted at bobann_b@