Music

Back to the Place I love so Well

Little White-Washed Chimney by Bill Clifton

Where the Mississippi flowing on its sunny southern shores
And the steamboat comes a-puffing round the bend
There’s a little old log cabin with a grape vine o’er the door
And a little white-washed chimney at the end

Oh, I’m going back, yes, going back to the place I love so well
To the folks who want me all their own again
To that little old log cabin with the grape vine o’er the door
And a little white-washed chimney at the end

Oh, I went away up North where they told me I could find
Money hanging around like apples on a tree
But it was like my Pappy warned me there was nothing of the kind
And the weather was so cold I thought I’d freeze

Oh, I’m going back, yes, going back to the place I love so well
To the folks who want me all their own again
To that little old log cabin with the grape vine o’er the door
And a little white-washed chimney at the end

Soon I’ll see that smoke a-rising from that little ole chimney top
As it welcomes me and greets me on the breeze
That’s when I’ll start to running and I know I’ll never stop
Till I’ve landed in that cabin on my knees

Oh, I’m going back, yes, going back to the place I love so well
To the folks who want me all their own again
To that little old log cabin with the grape vine o’er the door
And a little white-washed chimney at the end

I’ve been thinking about the song “Little White-Washed Chimney” for the last week or so. The lyrics make me think of summer and somehow summer always makes me think of days gone by with family coming home from a far to visit.

I love all the chorus but my favorite line is “To the folks who want me all their own again.” Think about that a minute. Folks who want you all their own again; folks who love you so much they want to share every aspect of your life. Powerful words if you ask me.

Back when Pap, Paul, and I used to do the song I asked Pap about the literal meaning of the song: the actual white-washing of the chimney.

After we finished playing I said “Were there really white-washed chimneys?” Pap said there was and in fact he helped white wash a few when he was a boy. He said the white-wash was often made of lime mixed with water or a whitish clay mixed with water. Most people couldn’t afford paint nor did they have access to it even if they could pay for it.

Pap said people also white-washed their fence if they had one that enclosed the yard or garden. I asked him if all the white-washing was just to make things look neater. He said well partly, but white-washing the chimney actually did discourage dirt daubbers and ground hornets from building nests in the chinking.

Tipper

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 3, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    Tipper,
    My Daddy said that about every other year or so his Daddy (very strict) would come about just when they thought they were done with all the chores for the day on the ‘backer farm…and say…”Well boys, grab some buckets and mix up some whitewash! The block needs painting’ all around the house this spring, you’ all can have it done ‘fore dark, each one of you take a side of the house…Dad said, probably his mother didn’t like the look of any dirt over the winters that splashed up on the stone…They also did some fences and trees…Dad said he suspected it was more for a insect repellant too. They always had plenty of lime around the farm for all sorts of projects, Lime pickles, gardening (mountain soil is very acid as you know), paint, dusting veggies, etc…Lime was used around outhouses and barns to absorb odors as well…However, by the time they built their house, they were one of the first to have those pull-chain indoor toilets…Anyhow, if the brothers (five of them) didn’t get in an argument, the job was indeed finished by dark o’clock at suppertime…Dad when he died could still remember the recipe for that paint…it was a goodn’ wish I had ask him the old timey recipe…
    Thanks Tipper, another good post

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    June 29, 2020 at 10:42 am

    I enjoyed reading and then hearing “Little White Washed Chimney.” It filled me with nostalgia, because I remember in my community of Choestoe, Union County, GA that many houses did have “white-washed” chimneys when I was growing up. I realized that we can’t “go back there now” and see that sight, because most of the houses that had that distinguishing mark of the white-washed chimney (and fence) have long since been torn down–or else those dwellings met their fate with time, and “rotted down” and hence were removed by those later-purchasers of the land. But thanks for sharing; memories are good for us, and remind us of our solid roots in a time diffeerent to this current trouble in our country of mob violence and what seems to me to be lawnessness. God help us; God help America!

  • Reply
    SusieQ
    June 28, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    What a lovely song , and sweet sentiment. Home ,family who loves you.♡

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 28, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    Now I remember! It was Tom Sawyer who conned them boys into whitewashing Aunt Polly’s fence. Painted it with whitewash they did. Old Age makes me forget sometimes.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    June 28, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    Tipper,
    As soon as Donna Lynn plays me songs I requested, “Cabin by the Side of the Road,” by Ray and Pap, and “The River of Jordan”, by Chitter and Chatter, I’m going up to FX-1 and watch Nascar at Pocano, Pennsylvania. Donna knew what I wanted to hear, so she played both. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    June 28, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    Tipper,
    Seems like I remember Daddy talking about White-Washing Chimney’s, but I wasn’t paying enough attention.

    After I got into high school, me and Dusty, Monte Kit’s brother, worked for E. P. Goleman surveying some of his property. We’d put limestone on cans we found and it turned them a Whiter color. After we finished, he said “that was an education and wasn’t going to pay us the .50 cents an hour he had promised. Dusty threatened to put him in the trunk of his car when Mrs. Goldman came out of the house. She said, “he’s not all there and I’ll pay you what is owed”. ( It’s a good thing we were Honest, cause Dusty done had the trunk open. ) She got her pocketbook and paid us for the 6 hours a piece that was owed. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ken in s w mo.
    June 28, 2020 at 10:34 am

    The dairy farm inspectors had the farmers whitewash the barn walls every year in PA. when I lived there many years ago. and I think they still do

  • Reply
    Dee
    June 28, 2020 at 9:43 am

    Beautiful song and as always the harmony was wonderful! Never saw a whitewashed chimney but i have heard about them and fences.

  • Reply
    Quinn
    June 28, 2020 at 9:27 am

    I think of whitewashing in terms of greenhouse glass, too. Done to filter some of the light and heat.

    Whenever I see an old chimney I can’t help wondering if it could be salvaged and a new little house built around it. I’m not just being sentimental – when you think of the labor and the skill that had to go into building a chimney that still stands, it seems such a pity to waste it.

  • Reply
    Sherry
    June 28, 2020 at 9:22 am

    Every summer my family would travel from Tennessee to Visit my dad’s side of the family in northwest Arkansas. I loved the trip. Tennessee is so beautiful & then we would cross that huge river over the bridge at Memphis into Arkansas. I knew we were close to Grandma’s when I saw the whitewashed trees at a park near there. I remember asking daddy about them. He told me about what Pap d or you…that it was to keep insects and such from damaging them. I wish I was an artist. I would love a picture of that park.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    June 28, 2020 at 9:06 am

    For me, going back to the place I loved so well wasn’t the same place I remember leaving. I hear homesickness in the song and then the joy of being close to home, an emotion that can only be described by someone who has lived that sort of life.
    Folks used to whitewash just about anything that was gray and dingy. We even had a whitewashed well box. I don’t recall anyone ever trying to spruce up the outhouse. If whitewash was used to make everything look clean, that would have been the place to start.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    June 28, 2020 at 8:56 am

    I think you and the song said it all and so there’s nothing to add to a perfect point!!!! Have a beautiful Sunday! Thought: Whitewash the human heart within.

  • Reply
    gayle larson
    June 28, 2020 at 8:39 am

    Another great Sunday song. I look forward to these each week.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 28, 2020 at 7:45 am

    Folks used to whitewash lots of things. My Mom would have us boys whitewash the first four feet or so of the yard trees. It was all for pretty I reckon. Somewhere along the way we stopped doing that.

    I agree with you. Wanting them all my own again is just how I feel about our daughter and our son. I would be glad to have them back home anytime. I guess that means I would never have let them grow up if I could help it. I doubt if I am the only one to feel that way.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 28, 2020 at 7:10 am

    I remember the white washed houses and chimneys. That was a long time ago. I never gave it much thought, just white paint. Also lots of white fences.
    Sweet song of time gone by. There is a hint of longing for what used to be.

  • Reply
    tmc
    June 28, 2020 at 7:03 am

    Good to see Pap and the family again. I don’t have to mention we are in a terrible place as a country, this song longs for the way things used to be, reminds me of a song Merle recorded some time back ” Are the good times really over ” two of the lyrics come to mind, Are we rollin’ downhill like a snowball headed for hell? With no kind of chance for the flag or the liberty bell? God help us, sure seems like it.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    June 28, 2020 at 6:59 am

    There it is now!

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    June 28, 2020 at 6:57 am

    The trees at Lumpkin Campground near Dawsonville Ga are whuitewashed up about 6 feet every year for the oldtime camp meeting. I used to whitewash my fence at Dallas Georgia. I do remember whitewashed chimneys around N. GA and WNC when I was a kid, but not many..

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