*This is a reposting, but I am hoping to hear more "Where I'm From" stories from new readers. If you care to participate, please leave links in comments, or email to me.
Where I’m From
I am from railroads and long trains with mournful horns singing late at night through the rusty screens of open bedroom windows . I am from Schwinn bicycles with handle-bar baskets and sidewalk skates strapped to tennis shoes. I am from bellbottom jeans, sit-ins and a lost soldier’s name on a metal-tagged ID bracelet.
I am from two-laned blacktopped country roads, shimmering with heat waves from a burning Texas sun; from white clapboard houses with root cellars and chicken wire fences. I am from small town beauty parlors with pink and gold speckled naugahyde chairs supporting large hooded hairdryers - futuristic brain scanners from a cheap sci-fi movie. I am from player pianos, Jewel Tea pitchers, and a purple dragon-embellished tea set from Occupied Japan with the delicate face of a geisha drawn in the bottom of each tiny fragile cup.
I am from bull nettle stings, goat-head stickers that push through rubber flip-flops, and horny toads with blood-squirting eyes; from wild tangy plums and mustang grapes that leave raw remembrances on my tongue.
I am from playing music by ear, homemade hooch and Forty-Two; from strong determined men and women who earned a living with their backs and hands. I am from hand-stitched quilts made with scraps of faded workshirts and christening gowns, from pillowcases made of flour sacks adorned with flowery embroidery. I am from Willis and Sarah, from Joe Gus and Lillie, and a family tree branch that reaches to France.
I am from vines that sprout from my ears after swallowing watermelon seeds; from long ago Indians who buried the hatchet up on Santa Anna mountain. I am from the grandfather with the whispered mental illness, kept locked away in a small bedroom for fear he would walk too far to remember the way back home and from a Cherokee princess just living off the "Rez". I am from a great aunt in Tishomingo and a great uncle more cowboy than any Louis L'Amour wearer of spurs.
I am from hard-shelled Baptists who proclaim their faith waist deep in the cold Colorado river; from stiff cardboard fans on wooden sticks advertising Mr. Goodjoint’s Lumber Yard passed out each Sunday morning before service. I am from homemade macaroni casseroles hand delivered to mourning families; from tent revivals and Tuesday night visitations.
I am from the central prairies of Texas, the Louisiana swamps and a rich Creole heritage; from the Black Dutch people of northern Germany and the French countryside of Alsace. I am from truck patch vegetables like turnip greens, black-eyed peas and okra, and cantelope for supper with fresh green onions; from red beans, syrupy sweet ice tea and leftover cornbread crumbled up in a glass of cold sweet milk before bedtime.
I was born to a father whose bad traits often overshadowed his good, but never let me doubt for a second that he loved me; a man who fought personal demons inherited from a tough poverty-ridden childhood. I am from a mother dedicated to see her children in a better place, instilling a strong sense of getting ahead and living the American dream. No gold or material riches, no vast acres of ranchland to inherit, but a family history of hard-dirt farmers who survived the Dust Bowl and the Depression with determination and humor to spare. No famous names nor infamous ones, no governors or kings; just a long saga of everyday people living everyday lives with extraordinary courage, love and stubborn Texas gumption.