The article about the Ima-Hassell Quilters evoked a lot of memories among several friends and caused one to write a wonderful letter in which she shared some of her recollections about those years “out home.”
Connie Freeman Avery is another person who has known me from the beginning and who has kept in touch through all these years. Although my parents rarely left me with anyone other than Grandmother, they chose to leave me with Corinne’s parents on my first birthday and planned to pick me up that evening but landed in a mud hole along the road and didn’t get back until quite late. Of course, they knew I was safe and entertained by the Freeman family, and I’m sure I wasn’t concerned because I probably had more attention than I deserved, including my first birthday cake.
Corinne added even more to my convictions that the Ima Community (and probably most small communities at that time) cast a bit of a magic spell on the land and the people who inhabited it, making us feel very close to a particular place, as well as to friends and family. We just seem to think of that location as home even though we haven’t lived there in years.
She recounted riding her horse eight miles to the canyons in order to take piano lessons from Mother. She said she would tie her horse to a post near the edge of the canyon and would then walk down to the house for her lessons and a visit. She also went to school at Ima and had many close friends in the area, especially in the McClary family, who lived near the school.
She explained that when she has trouble sleeping, she often thinks of the “Ima Days, which were good–really good. We were poor, but that didn’t keep us from having good times.” Most of us were in the same boat in those days, and many of us didn’t even think about having little money or few material goods because we were enjoying life in the area among good friends. Those good times kept bleak thoughts at bay and gave us the opportunity to know each other and ourselves very well. We learned to work hard and to play just as hard. When anyone needed help, the neighbors were there, and when anyone wanted an evening’s entertainment, the neighbors were also there.
I can remember some neighbors spending the night in order to play Monopoly until daylight and then going home to begin the day’s work. At other times, we would have gatherings for special occasions or just because such gathering were indicated so people could visit, eat, and enjoy each other’s company. The children certainly didn’t have to endure organized games because we were creative enough to think for ourselves, thus leaving the adults to enjoy their times together. After all, we had the whole outdoors in which to play or would have a room to ourselves so neither age group disturbed the other.
As I drive out home these days, I think of the Freemans whenever I turn Freeman Corner and feel very close to such friends while memories erupt. I also think of them at Ragland because they lived there for a while and think of them after they moved to town because we remained close friends. Those of us who have such pleasant memories of time and place are very fortunate. We have something to think about when we are trying to sleep or to think about when we may be having less pleasant times to face. Those thoughts give us strength and respite. What special gifts we received!