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Days of youth in Springfield

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By Special to The Sun


The mailbox posted at the old farm entrance was labeled, “DR McMurtry.” 

I caught myself daydreaming, once again, back to a time when days turned slowly under the Springfield sun.  
I think of it fondly and often, now that I am far removed from the life it supported during the era of two-cylinder tractors, tenant farming and hard labor.  
The caretakers of the land were people of strength and diversity in every way imaginable, yet they were all the same to me, at least as I understood them.  
We were close to the land in those days and agriculture was a way of life for 95 percent of Americans.  
The second war to end all wars had come to a close, just as Prohibition, public enemies, and food lines were all but distant memories for most.
Nearly everyone raised plants and animals in those days and their livelihood depended upon the land and the grace of the Almighty.  
Fields of tobacco, corn, Kentucky 31 fescue and wheat divided the gently rolling meadows of the outer bluegrass, beyond the wildest dreams of the pioneers.  
Deer, elk, bison and bears were replaced by herds of Angus, Hereford and Holsteins.  
Burning tobacco beds darkened the sky each year in preparation for the seeds of burley, with a few radishes and lettuce on the edges.  
A little fellow could get hurt around the smoldering beds if he did not heed the words of his grandfather to stay in the truck.
Spring rains sprouted the seeds and initiated the first of many, many steps before the long anticipated sale at local warehouses in November when everyone would “square up.”  
Barnyards took on a new look and smell as the dormant grass of winter assumed a bright shade of green.  
Soon enough, it would be time to plant the individual gardens that would sustain the family for the entire year.
April brought a mix of rain, sun, cool breezes and rising creeks.  
Water gaps tested the strength of old fences and tried the patience of aging farmers.  
They came together for projects of shared responsibility with a mutual understanding of the old saying, “Good fences make good neighbors.”   
Tradition, the phase of the moon, and predictions from the “Farmer’s Almanac” were deeply ingrained in some and less in others.  
Surely everyone knows, “You plant corn when the leaves on Elm trees are as big as squirrel ears.”
Most of the tracts of land along the Lebanon-Springfield road had long driveways back to their houses.  
A few of the majestic Oak trees remained and the roads up to the colonial style homes often reminded me of a scene from Tara in the 1939 movie classic, “Gone with the Wind.”   
Occasionally, a visitor would drive back and humbly ask to see the doctor.  
The letters D and R were the initials of the owner’s first and middle names; however, passersby no doubt had hopes of finding relief for the sick.  
A larger sign still reflects the name on the old mailbox and 20-some houses have been built on either side of the lane.  
Today, the sign reads, “McMurtry Acres,” and the original house has been preserved and beautifully restored by the Haydon family.       
Back in the days of my youth, it was the age of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Cleveland, Charlie Coyle, Jute Kidwell, Tommy Montgomery, John Riekenbach, Alfred Tate and many others.  
They were people of strong character, moral fiber, faith, and their example would become the foundation for future generations in Springfield and far beyond.