A road trip to the Sandhills of South Carolina is required. Unlike most requirements, this one is given freely because of the summer days I spent with Aunt Lynn and her husband Uncle Gene when I was a young boy.
The year 1928 was not the best of times to be born, but Aunt Lynn’s parents and nine children managed through the Great Depression, even using it like a fire to temper their strength and resolve. She grew and married a local boy, Eugene Burch. They, too, farmed– cotton, corn, soy beans, corn, timber, wheat, and what ever else would bring them a profit. They also had chicken houses and that is how I experienced some wonderful summer days as their egg gatherer, cleaner, grader, and packer. But most of all, I remember those summer days as ones where I was given the responsible for me: The accountability of how I performed my egg duties, how I chopped my two rows of cotton as Uncle Gene chopped his four, and how I managed the other given tasks that, when done correctly, contributed to the farm’s success.
Aunt Lynn allowed me to grow during those hot summer days by giving me freedom that her older sister, my mother, could not. She shepherded me so that any decision I made seemingly was mine, but they were mostly hers. Her stern hand guided me as she fed me great meals that never seemed to lack anything a young boy wanted.
But every great summer day ended, and a ride for me with some local farmers who worked the 2nd shift in Plant 1, Cannon Mills, was found, and I returned home: A boy rich with memories of many achievements and adventures on a small, Sandhill farm.