Growing Up in the Country
Levonda J. Selph
Growing up in the country was quite an experience. The closest neighbors were about a quarter of a mile away down the gravel road. The next nearest neighbors were two miles away. It was there that basically grew up alone, even though I had a sister six years older and a brother five years older. Neither my sister or brother wanted anything to do with me, since I was so much younger. Our neighbors who live closest had a girl my sister’s age and a boy that was my brothers age. I remember they always played tricks on me and did things that made me cry.
I hung out with my Dad a lot since he was my protector. When growing up my Mom, a stay home parent, favored my sister and brother. When I was in the first grade I got the mumps at school, I came home, and crawled up on my Dad’s lap. Sure enough, the next day my Dad had the mumps. Because he was older he got very sick, but we hugged just the same.
I was bussed to school to a small brick schoolhouse ten miles away that only taught grades one through six. After you graduated from the sixth grade, you were then bussed a further distance for high school. I never liked the bus rides, because the bigger kids picked on me.
From a very young age my sister, brother and I were taught the values of honesty, hard work and respecting our elders. Each day after school we all had our own chores that we had to do or get thrashed. When I was five I was give the task of chopping cotton as a half hand and my brother was the other half. We never got to keep our money, because the family needed everything we earned to keep going.
We did not have a car until I was seven years old. Once a month, on Saturday my Mom and Dad would go to a town about 40 miles away to get groceries. There they would meet other friends and relatives that lived too far away to visit very often. The kids were not allowed to go and we were left alone in our rural country home. I was in my teens before I got to go to town. WOW, that was fun, or so I thought.
My family did not miss church on Wednesday night or Sunday morning. In the summer the church would have picnics and pot lucks. I loved those events because I had someone to play with and I could run and chase other children my own age. The preacher really took a liking to me. He and his wife wanted to adopt me. Once my Mom and Dad let me stay a night with the preacher and his wife. However, that did not fly with me. I cried until they finally took me home before the night was over.
The memories of living in the country remain in my heart and soul even after all these years. I understand what the core values of a good life really are about. It is not about how much money you have or how you dress. It is what is inside a person, how sincere they are, and how hard they are willing to work without the expectation of the government taking care of you. It is about the love that comes from within a family that is bonded tight and would do anything for each other. As I look back on my childhood, I am so grateful that God bless me with a country family and home.