On October 13, of this year at exactly 3:15 p.m., my 5 year old granddaughter, Mallory Ann Williams arrived at Granny’s on the front porch of our old family home, 501 Louisville Street, and plopped down in the old white swing. “I’m so happy to see you this beautiful fall afternoon, and let’s the two of us go on a journey down on the old railroad track and walk on the rails of the past.”
“We are going to collect colorful leaves that have fallen in this bag we’ll take along with us, and other treasures we just might find along the way.” Mallory Ann said, “Let’s go walking, Granny, let’s go now!”
“Before we start, let me show you a water color painting Granny did of this very railroad track in 1984 which is 26 years ago on another fall day. We are going to walk several miles to we get to this spot that I painted.”
“Mallory Ann, I remember packing up all my art supplies that beautiful morning, and I got inside my car and went over to the railroad tracks right by our Starkville Fire Station Number One, and set up my outside art studio right in the middle of the tracks just before you come to the overhead bridge on University Drive.”
“I hope that we can almost hear the mournful sound of a train whistle that Granny use to hear sometimes early in the mornings and late at night growing up right in this very home we are standing in this afternoon. We could feel the vibration of that train as it rocked and rolled on by down only a few feet from this old home. You know, Mallory Ann, I really do miss those train whistle sounds and feeling the vibrations of the big old train as it passed right down the road. Maybe one day the train might return back to these Starkville tracks. I hope so. This painting I have is a now a memory of our past. I suppose we could call it a hanging memory on a wall, and this afternoon Mallory Ann, you and I are about to create our own precious memory. Are you ready to go?”
We crossed the busy Louisville Street as we dodged several big yellow school buses to get to the other side of the side walk. We begin to spot lots of fallen leaves, and Mallory Ann said, “Granny this one looks just like a heart.” We went up a little incline and then down a little hill towards the tracks. I spotted a hub cap, and told her about a painting I did once called, “Hub Cap Hill.”
“Mallory Ann, it was a cute pink house that belongs to a lady named, Johnnie Miller way down on the Craig Springs Road going toward Sturgis. She had hub caps all around her house, and I just loved getting to paint it years ago. I’ll show you this painting when we get back home again. Since we only have a bag to keep our treasures we find along the way, I’ll come back tomorrow and get that old hub cap. You know I have been collecting old hub caps, and this one will make number 11 for my collection. We’ll put things that we can easily carry in our bag as we walk along the railroad track.”
Mallory Ann spotted her first discarded pop drink can, and she said, “Granny, you know I am a Daisy Brownie Scout, and Moma is our leader. We are suppose to collect the tabs off the tops for a project for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis. I see one right there, let’s get the tab off of the can and put it our bag. Look at the rock there and see those diamond looking pieces in the black and white rock, it is so beautiful. Is the sunshine making that rock shine so much, Granny? What is this heavy long rusty looking thing that looks like a nail?”
I told her that it was what I call a railroad spike that hold the rails down and on to the wooden pieces between the tracks. With the red, yellow, dark purple, brown, and orange leaves we were placing in a big zip lock bag and these heavy metal pieces, our bag was beginning to have its own weight about it.
We kept looking downward at our feet to each and every piece of wood as walked along trying hard not to fall. Suddenly Mallory Ann fell right down on her two knees. I leaned down to check on her right knee. It was not bleeding, and I rubbed it softly, and assured her that she would be just fine. I then told her, “hey, this was just bump on your knee, and life itself is made up of bumps along the way each day we live. You know we just get up and brush ourselves off and keep on “keeping on with our life!” We are like Grandaddy’s little gray truck, we just “keep trucking along every day we live!”
We talked about the four seasons of our year. We heard and saw a couple of dogs along the way. One was a Basset Hound with his long ears dragging the ground as he peeped outside his cute little dog house in his backyard. We saw thrown away flower pots, and tiny purple wildflowers mixed in with the pretty orange spider lilies along the way. We stopped and looked up at the blue sky without a cloud in sight. It was an absolutely perfectly beautiful October mid-afternoon.
We felt as if we were the only two people in the whole wide world living as we walked along on the tracks. I left both my watch and my cell phone back home. We just wanted to enjoy our moments together without a sense of time. We wanted to enjoy every second, minute and hour that we were spending together as a granddaughter and Granny. It was our time! Time is the most precious gift we give.
We walked past Rosey Baby and The Grill Restaurants. We were getting towards our destination, the Fire Station Number One, and the very spot that I had painted 26 years ago.
“There it is, and see it goes to infinity. Our track seems as if it disappears underneath that over-head bridge which goes over University Drive. You know we drive on top of that old bridge all the time, and this very track is right underneath our car.” Remember Granny’s painting I showed you before we started our adventure? Are you getting tired and hungry? “
Mallory Ann said, “Yes, I’m sorta of hungry now, and can we go to the Book Mart Cafe, and get a chocolate chip cookie and real Coke in the red can, Granny?” We left our rails and walked on to a sidewalk. We had suddenly left our special world just the two of us, and came back to the real world of people, cars, and school buses passing by us. We walked right by Bell Building Supply, and she spotted another thrown away pop can, and this pop tab made her tenth one to add to her Daisy Brownie Scout project. We added this one to our now very heavy bag.
We waved to Gwen Sisson, Lifestyle Editor who was sitting in her office chair by her big window at The Starkville Daily News building.
Mallory Ann said, “Watch me, Granny jump over that pot hole!” We kept going until we crossed over Lampkin to Layfayette Street near City Hall right past the Karate building. Mallory Ann peeped inside, and saw her little friend, Tyler practicing his karate. Into the Book Mart we went, and Carolyn Brown Abadie leaned down to give Mallory Ann a big hug since she had been her swimming teacher out at the Oktibbeha County Hospital. Carolyn said, “I brought my little Pug dog today to work, want to pet him?” We headed back to the cafe, got the chocolate chip cooked heated and cold real red classic coke can, and headed upstairs to the area where Mallory Ann knew there was a children’s little table and chairs to sit in. I slid in one of those chairs with my feet folded up, and Mallory Ann enjoyed every bite of her half cookie she ate. She wanted to save the other half for her Moma to eat. We wrapped the left half cookie carefully up in a napkin, and I noticed that Mallory Ann used her top as a napkin to wipe off the melting chocolate chips on it. Oh, well, the chocolate will all come out in the wash, why worry about small things that happen. Agree?
We both were feeling tired and exhausted. I saw Mallory Ann begin to yawn. I thought back about our entire afternoon. It had a feeling of nostalgia about it. I had told her along the way as we walked about her grandparents and her great, and great-great grandparents. We had smiled, laughed, and giggled together. We had bonded as simply a darling granddaughter and a Granny. We had shared the most valuable thing in this whole wide world which is TIME spent together. I said, “Here comes your moma, Elizabeth, to give us a ride back home, are you ready to go home?”
Mallory Ann looked up at me with her sparkling brown eyes, and said, “I had so much fun, Granny, can we do this again?” “I love you so much Granny, and thank you.” “Don’t forget to go back tomorrow where we first started and get that hub cap to add to your collection in the back yard by the garden house.”
I looked down at her and said, “yes!” I leaned down and hugged and kissed her on her cheek, and told her how much I dearly loved her with my whole heart and soul. Then I told her that we together had created instead of a painting, we had been on a journey and an adventure as we took a walk on... “Rails of the Past” and we had created a precious memory to keep deep in our hearts forever.