This old abandoned cemetery is out on a farm road behind our house in Texas. It’s something I’ve passed by a thousand times and never really given much thought to. It’s run down, dusty, and the grave markers and headstones have faded, and corroded from the weather.
Weeds have grown around the graves and the walls have cracked. Still, there’s something beautiful about it.
But something made me stop the other day and take these photos. It was something about the clouds that day that caught my attention, and I loved the way that they were framed by the mission arch in the black and white photo below.
UPDATE: As featured in Superbowl XLVII on February 3, 2013, here is the beloved Dodge commercial featuring Paul Harvey’s speech, God Made a Farmer:
On Ram Trucks’ website, it says a donation will be made for every video share on Facebook and Twitter, in effort to raise $1 million to support FFA and “assist in local hunger and educational programs.” Share it!!
ORIGINAL POST: (make sure to watch this one too – it’s the full speech with some really cute, funny parts about farmer’s wives)
Anyone who grew up on a farm or knows someone tied to the farming industry can identify with this incredible speech from Paul Harvey at the 1978 National F.F.A. Convention. Hard work, strong values, long days and a commitment to the land and everything that lives on it: this pretty much sums it all up, and reminds me why being raised on a farm has been such a privilege.
From Farm Videos: We have been told that Paul Harvey gave this speech at the 1978 National F.F.A. Convention and liked it, so we developed the video with pictures of friends and family. It is a positive message for the non farming audience as well as a thanks to our farmers. This video is dedicated to farmers, both past and present who have endured to provide our safe, affordable and abundant food.
Anyone who knows me well also knows this story. I bring it up each fall around beauty pageant season. It’s one of my first memories, and better yet, it’s my very first memory of being mad at my dad.
We used to eat all of our family meals at an olive green Formica dinner table. The underside of the table was ugly, cracked, unfinished particleboard which I recall well from all the time spent crouched underneath it, decorating it with my best artwork. I patiently scraped my scratch-and-sniff washable Crayola markers across the rough surface and I thought about what a better surface the adobe hallway walls would be for such a masterpiece.
Our house at the time was small, a hand-me-down home smack dab in the middle of the farm that had been my great grandparents’ then my great aunt and uncle’s. And just like the house, the table, the couch, and just about everything else in it was also hand-me-down. Including my high chair. So I sat in this high chair — just like my older cousins before me had — at this table — just like the wrinkliest people I knew at the time once had.
It was suppertime, and tonight we were having pork chops (yum!), mashed potatoes (yum some more!), and wait… what the heck were these green things…? Mom and Dad sat down around the table with me just like we did for all of our meals. Mom was probably asking Dad about his day… talking cattle, hot weather, the usual. And while they chatted, I poked, I prodded. I sniffed, and I sliced one of the mystery beans in half with my spoon. I smashed it around a little bit, and flicked it to the other side of the plate. Dinner moved along as usual – Dad got up for a bowl of ice cream, mom started clearing the dishes while I polished off the last bit of my taters.
“Eat your lima beans, sweetie,” Mom said. “The Miss America pageant is going to be on soon and you don’t want to miss it!” I shoved a spoonful of beans in my mouth as quickly as I could. I had been practicing my pageant walk in Mom’s pink and white polka dot strappy heels all week for this. But as quickly as the beans went in, they came right back out. These were bad. Something was wrong with them…
This photo was taken in 1942 – it’s my great grandmother assessing hail damage in the cotton fields after a big storm. It was just three years after the Great Depression and our country was still struggling to recover from a more than 25 percent rise in unemployment. Farming and rural areas had been hit hard and were hanging on by hope as their crop prices that had dropped by nearly 60 percent.
My great grandmother was a tough-love kind of gal. Widowed twice and known for her penny-pinching, she was a woman of contradictions. In a time when women didn’t call the shots, she rolled up her sleeves and fought her way through to keep the farm alive, kicking and screaming. She was a devout Christian woman who cursed freely and loudly in the front yard of the church after the sermon. She was the type of woman I always imaged slinging a shotgun in her right arm while balancing a baby on her left.
She had a houseful of help – a cook, two maids and a caretaker for her second husband, all in freshly pressed black and white uniform dresses (that I would pretty much give my crooked right pinkie to have and be able to wear on Halloween nowadays). I used to sit on the countertop and watch the staff cook up a storm. Maybe my mom wasn’t a short-order cook, but great grandmother sure had one, and I liked to take full advantage of mid-day snack requests. In her pantry she had a never-ending supply of the most delicious homemade crisp, yet chewy, chocolate chip cookies that I have, to this day, ever tasted. She kept them in a stained plastic container on a shelf next to three-years-expired peas and canned peaches, and stacks of nicely folded empty Rainbow Bread bags that she saved and reused. And reused. And reused.
She’s in one of my favorite memories of growing up on the farm, and also in one of my worst…
I’m lucky enough to call this gorgeous West Texas farm home. It’s where my great grandmother made sacrifices for the generations after her. It’s where my grandfather was born, raised his family and has lived his entire life; it’s where my father grew up, and on the land to which he’s dedicated his life.
It’s where I was born.
It’s where I learned to crawl, it’s where I learned to laugh. It’s where I learned the difference between right and wrong, and it’s where I learned to love…