“You had to walk to school?” Grace asked, shocked by my statement.
we walked to school most days
church too. We had cars back when I was
little, but most people couldn‟t afford them. We didn‟t have one for many years. In fact,
when Papa had to travel to Maryville, he took a horse and it took him three days to getthere. N
ow, when you go visit your Aunt Janie, it takes you less than an hour right?”
“Wow, three days is a long time, Great
ma. If we had to travel by horse, we‟d never get tosee Janie!” Brooke seemed to share in Grace‟s earlier disbelief.
“We didn‟t travel as
much back then as we do now girls. Life was harder, but we wereblessed in so many ways. Even though walking to school seems rough, it provided us withplenty of exercise. It also gave me the chance to bond with my sisters and brothers. Thefive of us walked to school together, and to be honest, we fought some along the way too,
but riding a school bus isn‟t the same.
“I think the closest home had to be the Walker residence, which was about a mile away. We
lived further down from them. A few times, we were allowed to take turns riding Penny, oursmallest horse, to school. We would stop and let her drink from the streams or the river and
the Jenkins‟ boy would bring her an apple from his farm. He had a fondness for horses.
“Once, a boy named Stephen Harrow
tried to let Penny inside the school. He didn‟t think it
was fair that she was outside while he was stuck indoors doing his reading assignments.
Stephen was the first boy I‟d ever met who was constantly in trouble.”
“Did he get Penny inside the school?”
“No, Grace, she wouldn‟t budge for him once he got her close to the door. She was a bit toosmart for that boy.”
“That‟s funny Great
ma,” Grace replied with a slight grin.
“Mom, do you know any facts you could tell the girls? They need a few things they
research when we get home,” asked Lucy, who was standing by the stove. She turned and
smiled at me as she continued to cook. I was so proud that my daughter was listening andoffering suggestions for the girls.
“The school was built in 1882 and it‟s
the same exact building that is there today. Do you
remember when your mom and dad took you girls there last month?”
“Yes!” the girls said at the exact same time.
“I remember the pictures you took for me. The schoolhouse surrounded by trees, their
leaves, an orchestra of orange and yellow against a clear blue sky, seemed unchanging. The
mountains stood tall and mighty, capped with the season‟s first snow, even though the
landscape below them was much different. When I lived near Greenbrier as a child, the landwas cleared for farmland. Now trees cover the area; evidence of us living there has slowlybeen replaced. When I was born, the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company ownedmuch of the area that makes up the Smoky Mountains Park. When I was about 10 yearsold, we left and moved to Knoxville. Life was quite different from that point on, but thegovernment wanted to make the mountains into a park that everyone could enjoy.