Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Family Roots Vacation!

I'll say it again! The trip my family took up through Hillsboro, Texas, and then on up to Independence, Kansas, was one of the best trips I've ever been on! It had a huge impact on me and I came back different.....somehow......but different! When my dad, Burhl McClung, was a four-year-old boy, he moved from Las Cruces, New Mexico, to Hillsboro, Texas, and lived on a farm. He met Clyde Nowlin at the age of four and is still friends with Clyde. My dad is now 86, so they've been friends for a very long time! Being fearful that I wouldn't be able to find the old McClung Family farm, my dad arranged for Clyde to meet us in Hillsboro to take us out there. We met Clyde at the Citizen's National Bank in Hillsboro, Texas, and he took us out to the farm. Clyde is a very sweet and gentle man. I was quite nervous at first to have him in our car with all of us - including the dog - but he quickly calmed my fears and I fell in love with his gentle nature. I can see why he and my dad are such good friends - they are alike in so many ways. Clyde was very kind to us that day, taking us all around the area and telling us stories that he remembered of my dad. That day will always be a very special memory for me. Someone needs to shoot me for not taking Clyde's picture. I was so excited by everything he showed us, it didn't occur to me that I should take his picture - and I didn't. I'm still kicking myself over that! Here is a big old Hackberry tree in the front yard of the old McClung Farm. My dad remembers this tree being in front of the house when he was a little boy living on this property - and it was a big tree way back then! The acreage of the farm was incredibly beautiful. It was a big open field with big trees in the background and it had what they call a "draw" on the property, which is where the land drops and there's a nice creek running through it where the animals loved to go to get water. Clyde remembered how he and my dad camped down there one night and a "norther" came along and they liked to freeze to death. Sounds awful, but he had a big smile on his face as he was telling us the story. I think they had fun anyway! They also fished a lot along this draw. Here's the barn that my dad grew up playing in. He has told me stories about this barn. He told me that as kids, he and his brothers and sisters used to take turns climbing up on top of it and then jumping off and trying to fly. They were convinced that they should be able to fly. No one ever did - and I'm sure it was a quick drop to the ground! I can't believe the old barn is still there. I wanted to go inside it, but there are new owners living on the property now and we were technically trespassing, so I just stood from a distance and took pictures.
Here's the entrance to the old McClung Family Farm with a big huge field in front of the house. The house that's there now is not the house that my dad lived in - and it's owned by someone else. The old house that I can remember was torn down. I went out there only once years ago when I was a little girl. I got the most peaceful, wonderful feeling just standing there looking at it and imagining my dad as a little boy playing in the fields and riding his horse through the fields. I've heard so many times how he used to ride his horse to school - which would be WAY COOL now if we could do that!
Across the street from the old McClung Family Farm is my Great Uncle Roy's property. We drove around back there and it is incredibly gorgeous. There's a sawmill down there, too, which my Great Uncle Roy owned and operated. The creek winds around that property, too. When my great grandfather died, he gave all of the property to his sons, one of which is my grandfather, Lee McClung. All the sons divided up the property. My grandfather told his brothers to pick whatever property they wanted and he would take whatever was left over - and what was left over is the old McClung Family Farm that my dad grew up on. I've been told that my grandfather was very good-natured, and my mother tells me that's where my dad got his good naturedness from. All of their properties were adjacent to each other, so they were near each other, but they still had lots of land in-between them.
Inside all of those trees in the background is the crumbling debris of an old church - the church where my grandparents, Lee and Virginia McClung, got married on December 23rd, 1915. It stood for years and years and then began to crumble, and finally a hail storm knocked it completely down, but the rubble is still there. I wanted to get some pieces of that wood (I'm incredibly sentimental and if a piece of wood is all you can get, that's all you can get, right?), but there was a barking dog nearby that acted like he was going to rip us to shreds, and I was afraid to step foot out there because of that. I thought it was so special to be able to see the site where my grandparents had gotten married. No doubt a small church way out in the middle of the country.
Here is the property where my dad went to school - the Arnotville School. It has a historical marker on it now. It was a one-room schoolhouse that had students of all ages attending in the same room. Clyde told me that he can remember playing marbles with my dad at the front entrance to the school. I would give anything to see that. Now it's just a big open field, but man, if that property could talk, can you just imagine the stories it could tell? I'd like to know where the horses were kept when the students rode their horses to school! I saw other farm properties, too, that belonged to my grandfather's brothers; and Clyde's property was nearby, too, sort of! He told me that on Sunday afternoons, all of the boys in the area would make their way to Clyde's family farm and they would play baseball, or whatever sport was in season at the time, out in the fields. An interesting story Clyde told me was that when he was a youngster and was delivering groceries, he saw a Whippet for sale for $35. He went home and asked his parents for $35 to buy the car - and, well, they didn't have it. He approached my dad and another friend, Ray Sawyer, and the three of them donated a third to the car and those boys shared that Whippet for a long time. They took turns driving it and maintaining it - and I have seen pictures of my dad sitting in that Whippet. They were all very proud of that car. When we took Clyde back to the bank so he could make his way home, it was really hard for me to watch him walk away. He is a precious man and it meant so much to me that he spent the afternoon showing us around. I realized, as he walked away, that he knew more about my dad than I do and he has known my dad much longer than I have. It broke my heart to watch him leave. Thank you, Clyde, for giving me the most special gift I've ever received from anyone - your time, your familiarity with the old McClung Family Farm, your memories, and your stories about my dad. It was all priceless to me and one of the most special days of my life.


Katherine said...

Ah, I love this post! He sounds like a very special person!!

dorothy said...

i sure hope you're making a MDS scrapbook of this trip. i'd buy that book!!!! what special memories you now have!!

-Susan- said...

Penny I had some time today so I decided to look at some of your past posts! I found so many treasures but I think this post is the real treasure chest. So thankful you shared this with us. What a gift you recieved that day! Hope you are keeping a journal of your life to pass down to your children and your children's children.