The other day I received my weekly letter from Aunt Elexene, and in it, she tells of how the old barn has finally left the farm. They hired out someone to take it down, and that person decided apparently, to burn it down as a matter of expediency.
An era has closed on the old farm in Nicholasville, and Aunt Elex says that Uncle John stood on the Indian Mound and watched, and shed a tear. I understand his feelings, as I have many memories involving that old tobacco-smelling, dusty, sometimes spooky, friend of my youth.
I spent many of my days as a child playing in my "own" private barn, just me and my imagination, and all the cowboys and Indians I could think up, riding in and around that barn on my trusty tobacco-stick horse. I climbed every rafter; jumped from the tops of rafters up to sometimes my neck, into bins of oats, corn, or whatever was the current crop stored in some of the bins; tumbled in and around stacks of hay and straw and built many forts to fend off the bad guys. I can remember many days of my grandfather, my grandmother, my uncle and my father, and my half-brother Bill working in, and around the barn, during tobacco seasons, of housing and stripping. I can remember visiting the barn with my grandfather, to check livestock in that area, and remember also the time I layed down between the legs of on old white pet cow, and took a nap, while tobacco was being housed. I can remember visiting the stripping room on that barn during stripping seasons, when that room was still used, my grandfather still alive, looking out and up the hill over the top of snow and cold weather, and wind, while enjoying the smells and warmth of a pot-bellied stove keeping us on the inside, warm and toasty. I can remember thinking how big I was when I was asked by my grandfather to help keep the empty stalks picked up from the dirt floor of the stripping room, and piled outside of the door. I can remember during stripping playing in and around the barn, climbing up into the rafters, even then while yet tobacco was still hanging, waiting for stripping. I remember how great it was riding on a tobacco laden wagon at five miles an hour or less, heading from the fields to the barn, the cool breeze drying the sweat on my face, thinking what a great place the world was, and even today the smells come back to me as though I am there. I can remember thinking how great I was, as I was a very small child, being able to ride between my father, uncle, or granddad's legs while they drove the tractor, and I was allowed to steer for short distances. I remember also the last time I ever helped cut and load tobacco for housing, and my grandfather was still alive. Then, both barns were always filled to capacity with tobacco.
The Old Barn was high adventure to me as a young boy, and after the days of tobacco use, I always considered it my own clubhouse. I found some of my biggest stashes of eggs in the lofts of hay stored within the Old Barn, one nest had 29 eggs! I used them as grenades that day, and threw them at every imaginable enemy, on the fields of battle, surrounding the Old Barn.
The Old Barn was like an Old Friend to me, many times I would quietly enter into the dusky, stippling lit interior, feeling like I was in a special sanctuary. The character of the Old Barn was astounding, with smells, and creaks and groans of the old timbers and lumber, an occasional owl or scurryng mouse or rat, or the frantic beating of wings of a startled bird that I would disturb as I entered. And as big as the Old Barn was, it was, and will always be, a special place in the memory of my childhood, of the events, people, and times spent within it's special place, and on every return to the Nicholasville farm was always my destination. My memory of the Old Barn will never look like the image of it's last days, it had too much character.