Friday, November 23, 2007



[adapted from The Farm 1991, by Bonnie Simmons]

Memory is a gift from God.
It is amazing that the human brain
has the power to recall things past and gone
and bring them forward to the now.

Bonnie wrote of her adventures
and trips to The Farm on Refugee Road
in the days when it was a center of
the Ice Family as they were then.

We take the Brice Road exit
from the Interstate, and
turn toward the village
of Brice, which still exists.

We turn down Refugee Road,
just past the Electric Company,
and turn in the driveway
under spreading trees.

Mom stops our car in
the driveway, I step out
to take a good look,
drinking in the aroma
of familiar loved things.

Pull off your shoes and
run barefoot through
luxurious green grass!
This is country! - even though
the huge Metropolis
is surrounding us
on all sides.

The barn is straight ahead,
once painted a mustard yellow,
which has faded to
a pale tan.

A row of sheds
stands along one side
of the parking area,
toward the house which is
behind us, to our right.

To the left of the barn
are the remains of an orchard,
what is left of the chicken-house,
where White Leghorns once lived,
and a shed that housed a
family of ducks, bought to eat,
but kept as pets until
they grew old and died.

Behind the barn, what was
once a pasture is now
overgrown with spindly
trees and bushes.

Behind that now a swamp,
since drainage tiles
were damaged
by the Electric Company
in some of their digging.

We walk toward the house
onto the back porch,
go in the screen door
which bangs shut behind us.

We go down a hallway
with peeling linoleum
on the floor. Turn
the door knob and
step into the kitchen.

Grandma looks up.
She is chopping carrots.
She gives us a hug,
then goes back
to chopping again.

She is dressed in a
faded denim jacket
with her boots on.
Two kerosene heaters
provide the heat in
winter, and even though
summer seems to be here,
she still wears the boots.

Grandpa is sitting in
his chair, watching TV
with a book in his hand,
glancing down to read
a few more lines.

Behind the television
a dysfunctional door
leads onto a time-ravaged,
broken front porch.

The living room is dark,
rich in tone.
The door-frames
are original wood,
intricately carved.
In the place of
some doors hang
heavy, musty curtains.

Grandpa puts the coffee on,
placing just one spoonful
in the pot and boiling it
until it looks black enough.

In the downstairs bedroom
Western paperbacks line
three of the walls.
The bed was removed
some time ago.

There still is a cot in
my old room, where
my uncle slept forty years ago.
When the doctor came to
examine Grandpa the
day before he died,
he placed him on the cot
in that room.

I enter the "family room,"
used for special occasions,
always chilly because of
broken, airy windows.
An old stove -
which I have never seen used -
stands tall and black,
a pipe issuing from its top
that leads into the wall
and away to some
unknown someplace.

Sheet-draped chairs
face each other across
the room.
A dusty green couch
stands guard over
fragile games from
my mother's childhood.

An elderly piano, out of tune,
with broken strings and
clunking pedals stands
before a water-stained wall.

Old Mad magazines
and paperback books
line two walls.
The window-glass is
held together with
duct tape.

As my sister picks out tunes
on the old piano, I pick up
a MAD magazine from
September '66, sit down
in a sheet-preserved chair,
and begin to read.

But this is the Farm!
Its character is given
by the people who
have lived here.

It is an oasis of "folk culture"
breathing the years of
four generations or more,
and "in-laws" and "out-laws."
And familiar loved things.

R. D. Ice

The old house still stands after
many years have rolled by.
The patriarch of the Family
once lived there.

Change is part of life,
and change has come to us.
Someone else lives
in the house now,
things are not the same.

The old house has been
refreshed and refurbished
with a new roof,
a new foundation,
restored to its pristine glory,
a country farm,
but no longer ours.

We are the Old Ones,
and the Family
becomes more important to us.
Old times are treasured,
memories cherished,
of days faded and gone.

We look to the future!
New days lie ahead
and our children and
their children and
further generations will
build new memories
as they seize the
opportunities which
come their way.

R. D. Ice

I cannot go back. Period.
The Farm isn't there any more.
Time and change have moved on.

By age six I had lived in four houses
in four towns in two States.
In the summer of 1935
we all moved to the Farm:
Grandmother Rosa,
Grandfather K. C. Ice,
Juanita, my sister (a tiny baby),
and me, Rhoderick D. Ice.

McGarvey Ice, my father
stayed on in Vinton, Ohio,
to teach in the High School
for another two years.

I was so excited to go to school!
First grade at Brice Elementary!
There is a whole world out there
to learn about and to see!

Brice then was a sleepy little
crossroads town of maybe a hundred.
It had grown up around the railroad
which had a station at Brice.

The Methodist Church was
the life of the village.
We visited it (but I don't remember),
then we began attending the
Reynoldsburg Church of Christ,
about four miles away.

We were not farmers! But,
Brice was a farming community.
We lived on a gravel road,
and Columbus was nine miles away.
It could have been in another world.

Farmers thought of themselves as
business men, important people.
When Jim Leasure came to help
on our farm for a few days,
he was a factory worker, and
had a different outlook on life.
Jim attended the Fifth Avenue
Church of Christ in Columbus.

We eventually began attending there
because they had more children.
Grandmother would load us up
in her 1936 Willys sedan, and
we would drive nine miles to
Fifth Avenue on the edge of Columbus.

The Fifth Avenue Church was
rural in flavor, although many
were factory workers, but they
had moved from rural areas
to find work in the City.

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