Down Memory Lane: Obion River

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By Joyce Caughron Rhodes

Traveling down my Memory Lane happens most of the time while just relaxed, letting everyday happenings fade into the hum of the background. A time to relax and just reflect on the past. My mind goes from one memory to another. Just now, I was thinking of the Obion River. When I was in my early teens, my girlfriend, Carolyn “Carol” DeMyer and I walked to my Great-Aunt Blancheís home.
She lived about as close to the river as a person could. Her husband, my great-uncle, was a commercial fisherman and hunter, most of his life. Their house was sort of like standing on stilts, very high from the ground. This was because of the rising Obion River. Their house was kind of small but had a big porch on the front and of course, my favorite, a swing.
I love to sit on the swing with her and listen to the tall tales she would tell, about growing up as a child. now, Joyce, let me tell you…î This is the way she would begin. My eyes would get big, while I stared up at her, waiting for the excitement in her voice to begin. Aunt Blanche was not a very good housekeeper. She loved to spend all her time in the yard with her animals. I know of at least ten cages of various creatures she cared for, besides her monkey. The one that really fascinated me was the Myna bird. She talked to this bird so much; she finally taught it to say certain words. When the bird talked, you could understand exactly what it was saying. Her husband would bring in all kinds of game from his hunting and fishing trips and she could clean and dress it, just like a man.
Not only did she cleaned it, but cooked this wild game as well. She was really a good cook. I remember once she fried some turtle and I didn’t know what it was but as soon as she told me, I pushed my plate back.
I spent several nights, at different times, with her. This time, I was going to ride the Greyhound bus the next morning to visit my Grandmother in St. Louis. Aunt Blanche lived closer to the bus station so I wouldn’t have as far to walk the next morning. I was lying on her couch, half asleep and stretched my arm over my head. My thumb went into her fan that was on a table, next to the couch. Well, I was still able to catch the bus the next morning.
I spent the rest of the night on her feather-bed mattress, which she made herself from the feathers she plucked. Have you ever slept in a feather bed? Pure bliss. You feel like you’re sinking in a cloud.
Now, back to the Obion River. Carolyn and I decided we would like to go fishing. When we got to Aunt lancheís house, we asked her if we could use her fishing poles and one of their boats to go fishing. why, sure you can. Be real careful and don’t get too close to the bank and watch for snakes’ We didn’t know how to steer the boat. We were paddling wrong and going in circles until we figured out what to do. I don’t think we caught any fish that day and itís just as well. We wouldn’t have known what to do with them. I do remember, it was a beautiful sunny day and we could hear all kinds of sounds. We really had fun just floating down the river.
Carolyn is no longer living and every time I think of her, this memory of our fishing, is included in these thoughts. We never know what will trigger our memories or where they will take us, but I am so very glad we have them.

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