April 24, 2016
Day 7 and 8: Watching the Past melt Away!
Michael Martin Murphey on the album. “Will the Circle be Unbroken,” with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band sings of the lost river. “Oh, lost river, I’m coming back to the pot-bellied stove where the firewoods all stacked.” It is a song of longing to go back to a life that was.
We spent most of yesterday retracing familiar steps to Mine 18 Blue Heron, Devil’s Jump, Stearns, Whitley City, Pine Knot, the old farm, and seeing an old friend, Madge. Nothing was the same. In 10 years many structures have burned, been abandoned, and people have moved on.
At Blue Heron Mine you can hear the voices of the miners as you step into shells of buildings dotted around the coal tipple. A train can bring you to this spot and take you back to Stearns. It is a marvelous ride back in time.
I kept thinking that life is like this pebble you throw into the water. It makes a strong hole in the water and sends ripples to the sea. As the ripples spread out, they fade, and then they are no more. The ripples are strong toward the middle and fade as they expand.
Most of my relatives in Kentucky and Tennessee have physical challenges like cancer, stroke, dementia, liver and heart disease. I wonder where they are in the rings of the circle. And I just had a cousin in Tennessee diagnosed with cancer!
Today we stopped by the famous Dayton, Tennessee, Court House where the Scopes Trial was fought. It is a long story, but a teacher, Mr. Scopes was not following state law that required that he teach that humans were created by the God of the Christians. I have visited the Court House in the past because it reminded me of my father.
The first thing we saw as we walked to the courthouse was a grove of trees. On each tree was a sign that said, “This tree witnessed the 1925 Scopes Trial.” My father, when he was around 12 or 13, stood or sat under these trees and listened to the arguments made for and against evolution also. It hit me hard! These trees are still alive and my father is not. He died when I was about 21 years old. But today I felt a link with him in a very special way.
The places my mother haunted when she was a child are melting away and the ripples are almost gone! Her one-room school house does not exist any longer! Even the pot-bellied stoves are gone!