Why do I come to Andalusia? Because I visit with the spirit of Flannery, and the farm wraps its arms around me. I feel good from both encounters. I come to Andalusia because the pace makes me feel good about myself and the world.
When I was a child, I grew up on farms. One was with my parents; it was not really a working farm. My father earned our livelihood in other occupations. Our farm just had beef cattle to keep the land in use with minimum labor.
The farm I loved was the one of my paternal grandparents. (I know now my grandfather was an agribusiness man, a totally unknown idea to me at the time.) My grandfather, known as “Pa-Pa” (Pah-paw) had many operations. The list would include: a traveling saw mill, a cotton gin, a Robinson Chemical retail fertilizer business, a threshing machine business, and in the winter a place where people came to slaughter and prepare hogs for utilization during the winter. He also served out community as Church Treasurer, Chairman of the local school board, and adviser and helper to many.
I understand now that the cotton gin’s space with the roll-top desk was basically my grandfather’s office. However, much of my time was spent in his large truck with a full bed on the back. This was not a pick-up truck, but a large truck. He never went out in it without his constant working companion, Raoul, a young black man. Sometimes I was allowed to sit on the back of the truck bed with my feet hanging over; Raoul was ALWAYS there to protect me. Most of the time the three of us rode in the engine area of the truck. I have no idea how many hours I spent in this endeavor, from about three years to the time I began school at six years of age, but I felt like the “Queen of the Hill” as I rode along.
And so, Andalusia puts its arms around me when I am here. And I feel as safe as eight decades ago in Piedmont, North Carolina. There are many Grandmother stories, but they must wait for another day.
Therry Deal, formerly of the Georgia College College of Education, is a volunteer at Andalusia.