The poet Robert Frost once wrote, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.” Perhaps. But home is also a place that many people leave eventually. This is true in the Delta these days. With the advent of mechanized farming and the relocation of manufacturing jobs, young folks leave seeking work, education, excitement, or maybe just diversity of experience.
It wasn’t always that way. There was always more work than hands in the old days and families stuck together. The photograph below features the family of Philip Socrates (pronounced suh-crate-eeze) Deal taken sometime before 1918. They stand in front of their “dog-trot” home that stood near where our present farmhouse now stands. You just have to wonder how many times that dog in the picture actually trotted between the two wings of the structure.
Sometime around that time, the house burned. The present one was constructed in 1918 and consisted of three bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, pantry, and living room. The attic was constructed so that additional rooms could be added be they never were. Still, one of “Daddy Deal’s” grandsons recalled sleeping in the attic as a child.
It must have been quite the community meeting place. We still, on occasion, have perfect strangers drive up when we are there and ask to see the old house where they came when they were young. We gladly oblige.
One of those long-ago visitors left Wattensaw, while young, for California where she enjoyed a modest career as an actress. She portrayed the mother of the Farrah Fawcett character in the film “The Burning Bed.” She recalled the night she and “the other girls” cracked the corner of a window pane by crowding too close together on the sill. At the time of her visit, the crack was still visible, to her great delight.
We love the old place. Sitting outside of an evening watching the deer play in the back field and the “parent” geese teaching this year’s brood to fly, we can almost hear the voices of old "Suh-Crate-Eez” and his family talking about the future.
It wasn’t to be an altogether happy one. His children lost the place for less than forty dollars in back taxes near the end of the Great Depression. That’s how we happened to come by it long after it was purchased by a grandfather. It has been in Brenda’s family since.
But it will always be home for anyone who wants to call it that.