GATHERING LIGHTER’D KNOTS

Granddaddy Roberts was a busy cattleman, but he often took my sister, Virginia, and me to the woods with the horse and wagon to help gather “lighter’d” (lighterwood) knots for firewood.

The horse would stop on his command, and everybody would range out from the wagon to look for firewood. He burned over the pasture every few years to encourage the growth of new grass. It was a common practice at that time. It left fallen trees and fragments of wood that were mostly pine, and therefore good fire starters, because of the resin or pitch they contained.

Though it was a dirty job picking up the burned over deadfalls, we didn’t mind, for it was a novelty to ride in the wagon which he kept long after he bought his Model-A Ford.

June Poucher (Jan. ’15) recalls fondly “Grandmother accused Granddaddy of talking too much when he lingered in town. But she was wrong; he stood and listened, because he was one of those rare people who gave full attention to the speaker.” 

“Figaro” from the “Barber of Seville”

“Figaro” from the “Barber of Seville”

Courtesy of Wikipedia

ANNE AND “THE BARBER OF SEVILLE”

France

1944

I met my new French friend, Anne, soon after we set up our Liaison office in Cherbourg. She had a room at the SNCF Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (French national railway system) superintendent’s home, which was close to the railroad station where I worked.

Anne was twenty-two years old and slender with brown hair. She spoke some English and worked at an office in the middle of town. We met quite often and walked the downtown area. She told me about town’s history, its people and her family who lived on a farm about thirty miles away.

Since there were no restaurants open, on occasion, I purchased a baguette, and found some meat in the K or C rations. We enjoyed a kind of picnic with a bottle of wine.

Anne taught me how to take a wine canister and have it filled with my choice of wine at a bistro or food market. French families always had wine with their meals and I began acquainting myself with that tradition.

I had good reason. The army required us to treat water with chlorine pills prior to drinking it. I had found the local water source to be a reservoir polluted with some German soldiers’ bodies. Learning that made my switch to wine with meals more acceptable.

Anne introduced me to cognac, calvados, French wine and many varieties of the drink, which were reasonably priced–including champagne.

To celebrate the end of German occupation, the city sponsored the opera, “The Barber of Seville.” This was to be a popular occasion and we attended it. I had never seen an opera, but Anne had. Operas were quite common in France.

We arrived at the small theatre early, found some seats in the middle of the main floor and settled in to enjoy ourselves. But soon, there were loud comments and shouts about the “American soldat” (soldier) attending the opera.

The gist of the French comments was, “We got rid of one foreign occupation force only to be occupied by another.”

Anne had been teaching me some French and eventually, I was able to understand some conversations. She knew I understood what they said and turned to me. “What do you want to do? Leave or stay?”

“Stay,” I said, and went on. “Please explain to the crowd we are not occupying their country–only helping them expel the Germans. We’ll be gone when the war is over.”

Anne stood up and shouted that message to the crowd. Most of the people received it as being OK, but there was no applause, either.

A few shouts continued, but they eventually died out when the opera began.

Le (Jan. ’14) adds, “The character ‘Figaro’ had a somewhat damaged, gruff cognac voice.”

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