No wonder John Howard Payne won immortality by the writing of just one song, "Home, Sweet Home." He expressed, in beautiful words, an eternal truth. He was thinking of his own "lowly thatched cottage." I am thinking right now of my home town and home community, where your old friends love you in spite of your faults, just because you became a part of them in the "growing days." Here we are - my men folks and I right in the midst of the "scenes of my childhood." It is early Sunday morning; the roosters are crowing. Somebody's snoring. Of course, we have snoring in Cleveland, but not like this - the slow but sure pull of a ragged cross-cut saw through a knotted oak. Don't tell a soul - but I think it's Clyde Lemon. Now my son Virgil, who is sleeping on the davenport, has joined in the "music of the woods" - and it isn't singing. The dawn is trying to penetrate a blanket of fog. The dew - or the fog - is dripping down off the leaves of the catalpa tree. You just do everything on a bigger scale down here at Saltsburg. Your rain is a deluge; your electrical storms deafen horses. (A bolt of lightening struck a wire in the Lemon barn; by a miracle did not set fire to the barn, but the noise deafened the horses. They are coming around all right). The cooking down here is certainly on a bigger and better scale than mine. One of our boys remarked - quite guilelessly - that it was going to be hard to go back to ordinary meals. Here it is - the day of our home-going - and I haven't seen a fourth of you. Virgil Jr. has been laid up with a cold ever since the morning after our arrival. (We came from a climate of 95 deg. to 103 deg. near Cincinnati to 50 deg. here last Tuesday night). Cousin Ina - and Marjorie - have kindly looked after Virgil during the little excursions the rest of us have made among friends. This time we are truly indebted to our hosts. Again I say "There is no place like home" - the home that has left the latch-string out for the Taylor family all these years. It is with a feeling akin to sadness that I go back home without seeing many, many friends. I guess it's selfishness - to hold on to so many that I want for friends. But the new cannot take the place of the old.
I was getting discouraged about the "By-Ways." I felt I wasn't giving you much - and have felt tremendously the need of a spiritual awakening. Have you ever felt like a dry clod, out of which nothing can grow? It's a desolate feeling. We see so much all around us of man-made futile things - War, with all its attendant suffering, homelessness, loss of self-government, loss of ideals, loss of faith; you hear the roar of defense plants at work, the clanking of aluminum kettles piling up - to be made into conveyors of deadly weapons. Oh, when you see and hear all this, and see the tears or the tightened lips of mothers who are sending their beloved boys away - they know not where, you almost lose your faith.
On this vacation trip we spent four days and five nights right "down on the farm," where oil
lamps light the darkness within, and a full moon lit the way to important out-buildings. There we found a couple (our deceased friend, Betty's brother and wife) who are in love with farm life. There, in that natural environment, you felt a little nearer to the Creator of gentle cows; eager, squealing little pigs; perky white chickens; beautiful Jersey calves; hard-working, healthy horses; contented cats; and a lovable dog. The folks let me milk a certain cow - and I was so proud that she yielded up her full quota of two gallons. But a second cow held out on me - so I was restricted after that to one cow. A farmer across the road let me run the mowing machine around the small field. The first time he followed me - and I said to myself, "Wouldn't that gripe Ellis?" At the end of that first round he said, "You go right ahead, on your own, and I'll jest sit here under the shade tree." What a thrill for me! The most precious sight of the trip through Ohio was the glistening tears in the eyes of our adopted nephew, Bobby, who hated to see us go. He hid in his bedroom, and couldn't tell us good-bye. I took Bobby and our boys to the famous zoo in Cincinnati, where we saw the trained gorilla, Susie, eat with a fork and observe all the amenities of social life; the trained chimpanzees, who roller-skated, walked on stilts and put on a prize boxing match. That was the funniest thing we ever saw. It was a great day. But we would pick Cincinnati's hottest day - 103 deg. downtown. Near Pennsville, Ohio, where we spent one afternoon and night with a dear friend of Cleveland school-teaching days, is the most glorious view I have ever seen (and I'm not forgetting the Smokies nor Cumberland Gap). This point - 10 miles south of Malta on Route 78, is called "The Rim of the World." A clouded sun broke forth just as we were eating supper. Dr. Davis (my friend's husband) exclaimed to his wife, "Let's take the folks to see the sunset." Virgil and I thought, "Why not see it right here." But away we dashed - seven of us - racing against the setting sun - ten miles over the awfullest winding, stony dirt roads - through two ancient wooden bridges that shook in anger at our speeding. Ten miles of the wildest, scariest ride of our lives. But it was worth it. We beat the sun by ten or fifteen minutes. It was a clouded, hazy sunset. But even so, that was an unforgettable sight - high, high - far above man's petty warfare, and the harsh beating of woman's peace-loving kettles into conveyors of destruction. Up on that mountain top - with the great blue dome of heaven above us, and the red ball of fire sinking behind fourteen mountain ridges, there God really seemed to dwell. The hills, the glorious sun - always in its regular course, are symbols of God's unchangeableness.
"To the hills I lift mine eyes, whence my hopes of succor rise."
Florence B. Taylor
Next -8/28/41 - Teacher Marjorie Lemon. Mrs. John V. Wilcox