One short road with four houses on one side and one house and one mobile home on the other side completes the main drag for our nearby village of New Dennison. A church faces the highway and beckons you into the village, which ends with a lower entry road that continues on to Marion. Across that lower entry road is one more house and mobile home.
This is a historic spot, which many years ago had a railway connection where people caught the train to Marion and Carbondale. Once also facing the highway , where only an empty lot remains, there was the home of the doctor who delivered many babies in this area, but that house burned a few years ago.
Just around the corner on the village’s one road was the small house of his midwife companion who traveled with him in the buggy to help deliver the babies. A cousin’s daughter told me what a meticulous housekeeper she was. Now that house too is gone after the midwife’s only child continued to live there with her cat until she finally went into a nursing home. I never found out what happened to the cat. I never met the mother, but I was acquainted with her daughter, who never married. She got her water from a well, and almost to the very end lived there proudly without electricity. They surely used oil lamps in her younger days, but I never saw any. Because she had gradually confined herself to one room and it was very crowded with only a narrow path between furniture laden with clothing, I was afraid to suggest one. I did take her one of those battery lights you can put in closets or dark places, but I don’t know if she ever used it. She enjoyed a small battery-operated radio and was interested in the Kentucky Derby and also local news. A social worker or a relative finally arranged for the Rural Electricity Association to put in a ceiling light in her one room, so she did have electricity the last year she lived there. After her death, a neighbor acquired the lot and tore down the worn-out house and made it part of their lawn. It definitely looks better, but I still think of Juanita when I pass by.
One of the more substantial homes on the road always interested me because a favorite speech student of mine once shared the story of his uncle who lived there at that time. He was retired from some much larger town in another state where he served as post master, and Jerry explained in order to have that good job, his uncle has passed as white. I never met the uncle, and Jerry died much too young just a few years ago, but I think about these things as I pass beside the houses there.
I always drive through the village and take the rural route into Marion when I go to visit Katherine. Early in October, I was driving towards the house at the end across from the lower entry road. I don’t know who lives there, but I always enjoy their Christmas lights. That day on the front porch swing which faces that road was a short man in overalls and straw hat relaxing in the sun. It was such a pleasant sight that it made me smile, but then laugh when I grew closer and realized he was a straw-stuffed man, Since then week by week, additional seasonal decorations have been added to the porch and yard including a ghost by a tiny pretend cemetery. Bright orange lights illuminate the scene when I come home late at night. I liked it best when I thought it was a real guy enjoying the fall air and beautiful trees, but I still smile each time I pass.
I make a point of trying to absorb all the bright colors of the leaves hanging on the trees in such abundance right now around our lake as well as on the road to town. We still have a rose bush blooming and few late day lilies, but very soon the bare browns of November will erase late October’s colors and we will need to adjust to a new kind of beauty.