From underneath the soft, downy pillow on which I lay my muttled teen-age head, in the feather bed upon the cool linoleum floor, I could barely hear W-S-A-I, as it musically sang out their sign-off for the day. The sign-off call emitted from the small, square transistor radio that my Uncle Bill Tanner had presented me at the beginning of my annual summer visit. It was this first of many “transistors” that I would treasure, even though they went through batteries like a teenager through a bag of chips, it was the latest gizmo of the day.
WSAI, are the call letters of the local station in Cincinnati, so popular to the teens of the mid nineteen sixties of northern Kentucky. All teens hailed the tribal call and the sound of Dusty Rhodes' voice announcing classic songs like: Candy Girl by the Four Seasons with Frankie Vallie, Da Do Ron Ron, Do the Bird, The End of the World, or Town Without Pity by, sigh, Gene Pitney.
As the sign-off echoes in the warm summer night, it oddly seems to harmonize with the whispering sound of the slight breeze as it swirls about the front bedroom of my aunt and uncle's home on J's Acres in Limaberg, Ky. Roused, and not realizing I had long been half-asleep, as the resulting silence bid me awaken to the beautiful, moonlit night.
I look through the unadorned windows that allow the full moon to find its way to my bedside while reaching into the shadows of the dark corners of the bedchamber. As my bleary eyes adjust to the light, I find before me, a charming display of dust speckles as they dance in moon's bright beams which illuminate them as if tiny snowflakes on a crystal snowy eve. It reminds me of “fairy snow”, that glistening, icy snow that appears on special winter nights, fairly sparkling as if dusted with fairy dust; that's what I call it.
My senses delight to slight bursts of sweet smelling breezes flowing through the window screens of the tall windows. I find the charming scents of a Boone County summers' bouquet of day lilies, sweet blooms of purple clover, the distinct scent of fresh blue grass and the smell of clear water filtering up from Gunpowder creek that runs along side the farm, down the hill a bit, from where we all rested that summer night.
The rock and roll music that had been my companion from the little transistor radio I treasure is now replaced with the peaceful, clear and natural music of the whip-o-will as it fills the space of my solitude. Night doves accompany them in rhythm, along with the steadiness of an owl's inquisitive calls as he watches over the yearling meadow from the ancient oak, who magnificently keeps its position in front of the house, as it has for a century. That very tree I had conquered that very day, by ascending its highest branches. Gene Pitney and Frankie Valli had been replaced by an owl, and a dove, at least for that moment in time.
As the breeze picks up and wonderfully spreads about the quiet bedchamber, I welcome it to cool my sun-burned skin from hours under its rays while running about the acres among the milk cows, fish ponds, horses, endless tobacco rows, long abandoned homes of my ancestors past and climbing the large, magnificent oak trees abounding on the farm. The breeze reaches my place of repose, and I welcome the coolness it affords as it tickles my skin, like the slight touch of a feather. The little beads of perspiration upon my brow dissipate and I again became drowsy enough to rest in slumber once again. Before surrendering fully to the depths of sleep, I carefully place the tiny radio out of harms way and adjust myself deeper within the feather bed's embrace
Perhaps ones' guardian angel notes my lips curled in a slight smile and listens to the contented sigh and deep, rhythmic breaths as I peacefully drift off once again, and dream of the play and symphony that nature had afforded me that enchanted night. That of her unique score of music, exquisitely choreographed dust ballet, and sensory delights as the moon softly illuminated the lovely scene. All this charm and magic found within a sleepy farm community within the rolling landscape of Boone County, by a muttled-headed Kentuckiana teen, in the era of the mid-sixties.
My aunt and uncle’s home above (upper left corner) as it was in 1917, the view of the Limaberg bridge area.
Gin-Nie Tanner Smith
High Point NC