We moved to Simpson County, Mississippi in November of 1975. Jim was in charge of the Emergency Land Fund’s Model farm. Our daughter Jilo was 5 and Ife was 2.5. I was 29 and Jim was just about to turn 31. This was before we had goats, chickens or rabbits. The greenhouses weren’t in production. I remember several of the farmers Jim worked with gave him gifts of money for Christmas. It didn’t amount to more than $30 total but it paid for all the gas we used.
We decided to drive up to share the holidays with Jim’s family in Rock Hill, MO. They lived at #1 Inglewood Court, right outside of St. Louis. 17 year old Micheal, 15 year old Monette and 12 year old Debbie were living at home.
We made the 8 hour trip in the little gray Volkswagon that came with the job. We took food to eat on the way, left early and drove straight through. I don’t remember anything specific about driving up. As I recall we got to St. Louis before dark. Jim’s parents gave us their bedroom. They were always so nice about that. Jim and the kids and I shared the pushed together twin beds. There weren’t presents for us but Jim’s mother looked around and came up with some. I don’t remember what she gave Jilo and Ife but she gave me two copper vases and Jim two glass paperweights. I don’t remember what we took as gifts.
I remember going to see Jim’s brother, Harold at one of his jobs. He had several, just like his father always did. We also stopped by his studio where he made plaster knick knacks. Or was it cement bird baths? Or both? There was a Salvation Army or Goodwill store nearby and we stopped and I got some shirts for the kids and a dress that Ife wanted. Mostly we stayed around the house and visited.
We stayed until New Years Eve and left in the evening. There is never enough food or time to prepare it for the return trip. We stopped at Howard Johnson’s somewhere on the way home and I remember getting fried oysters. It was cold and dark and clear. There were stars. And there are always trucks. We listened to the radio and talked and maybe sang some. The kids eventually fell asleep in the backseat and we welcomed the New Year driving through the night.