Take Me Home Country Roads

Take Me Home Country Roads by Malcolm Burgess
One of the things that I can remember very clearly about when I was growing up, is that we always seem to live in the country (outside the city limits), I think the rent was cheaper and my Dad didn’t like having close neighbors. In fact, true story, one time I heard my Dad say to my Mom, “start packing Emma, the neighbor down the road, just called me by my first name, next thing you know he’ll be wanting to borrow my tools.”  Maybe, he meant it and maybe not, but the fact is, it wasn’t too long before we were moving further down the road.

At least every other weekend, Dad would say to my Mom “pack a good picnic lunch and lets go for a ride in the country.” Now I don’t know why he said it like that because as far as us kids were concerned we did live in the country. He would turn right or left off the main roads, and we would drive for miles on windy narrow roads. Some paved most not and to me it was like I was seeing the WONDERS OF THE WORLD. We saw, mountains and streams and caves and old houses and towns, abandoned for years-some from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Old trucks, cars and closed ore mines, and a few old what we called “ghost towns”-where folks had just up and left when the mines played out or the train stopped running Through the town or when they built a freeway that by-passed all the local towns-with their little cafes and gas stations and grocery stores-that depended a lot on the folks just passing thru for their business. That was a long time ago, but sadly, the same thing is happening all over the world, but now days they don’t just go around the old towns and places, NOW, they go right through them and tear down all the old things, that to me, when I was growing up were my history lessons. I learned a lot about people and things and places and about our past and a lot about our future, and where our generation was headed. I saw that the Past and all it’s glory was just that THE PAST, and that being able to get from one place to the other quicker, and land to develop and call it the suburbs (IT’S FUNNY THAT FOLKS STILL WANT TO SAY THEY LIVE IN THE COUNTRY) was more important than saving it and all the wonderful history that was there in that place called the country.

I wonder where our kids and grandkids will get their history lessons, and if their Dads will some weekend morning, pile them all into the family car, every once in a while and say “LETS TAKE A RIDE IN THE COUNTRY. I took my boy’s when they were growing up on lots of trips to the country, and shared with them history as I knew it, just like my Dad did with us (my brother and sister) and today they thank me ever so often for taking the time to show them THE WONDERS OF THE WORLD. And they tell me, that their kids love it when they say every once in a while, when they find the time, “Pack a picnic lunch (McDonalds or KFC) and lets go for a ride in the country.”

How about you and your families? Do you take country rides once in a while and show the kids what the world was like before computers and video games and tv? I hope you DO, and while you’re at it, take lots of pictures (because that may very well be all we’ll have of yesterday), and sing songs together (remember Row ,Row ,Row Your Boat Gently Down The Stream, or 99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall or my all time favorite The Bear Went Over The Mountain). While you’re riding down the bumpy roads, be sure you’ve got plenty of gas, and a spare tire, who knows what kind of adventure you may have, and OH YA don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch.

by Malcolm Burgess
I hope you enjoyed today’s guest post by Malcolm Burgess. Malcolm is one of my cousins-not really-but the connection is so close we claim we’re cousins. He has led a very interesting life. Malcolm grew up-and lived most of his life in the Southern Highlands of Appalachia. But for the last 6 years he and his lovely wife CieJay have made Thailand their home. Malcolm has a great blog: Retired In Thailand and Loving It where he writes about his new life and the adventure he finds in it. I encourage you to go for a visit-his site has wonderful photos and fascinating descriptions about life in Thailand.


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  • Reply
    Chuck Howell
    April 29, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Fried Chicken, Potato Salad, Lite Bread, Sweet Pickles “Lazy Man’s Cake, Yellow with Chocolate Icing ,made in a loaf pan, Iced Tea or lemonade, Table cloth on the ground, Cloth Napkins, Real “Silverware.” Roanoke Virginia, 1938 DeSoto four door sedan, Looking for a Pasture without a Resident Bull. Four kids, in the back seat, Mother & Daddy in the front. The year 19442 0r 1944. Most Saturdays Daddy would take the car apart & put it back together in preparation for a country road trip; A real “Picnic.” Smoky Mountain transplants, George & Lona Helen had settled in Roanoke where Defense work at the Powder Plant was available for my disabled Daddy. He was injured in a Skidder accident in Slaty Fork West Virginia in 1937, the year of my birth. He wasn’t drafted for the WWII War effort as a result. Goin to the Country was as simple as a couple of left turns on side roads, lookin for unpaved, dirt two lanes. The Song has become State Anthem for West Virginians. I have heard it sung on top of Cheat Mountain by a local Bluegrass Band out of Cass, which is a restored “Sawmill,” or “Company” town, now a State Park. “Somehow in My Heart I Know That Life was Better then, When the Railroad Hauled Timber on the Cheat Mountain Line”; A line from my Nostalgia Song. State lines were not drawn by God. Only Man could try to divide Appalachia up into sections which make no sense. Love my Heritage and am so thankful for you, Tipper, Pap and all of your family for keeping Memories alive.

  • Reply
    May 2, 2010 at 7:03 am

    I sure enjoyed this story of the rides out into the country. I remember our family going for drives too, usually on Sunday after church.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 28, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Thank you, Malcolm for the wonderful reminder of time gone by. I remember going for rides in the country. That’s what we did sometimes on weekends. Life was really different then. Not so much tv and no computers.
    People talked more then. Now I am retired and live alone and can go for days and not talk to anyone.
    And we call this progress. lol

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    April 27, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Tipper: So well written with a neat story. I always lived in the city but would go on the back roads looking for a hunting or fishing spot.

  • Reply
    April 27, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Right now I live right in the city…but I grew up in good old fashioned country and I do miss so many things about it (not everything…but many things). My parents still live there and when we visit, we always take some time so see real “country”. They are always amazed at how different things are/were. I think it gives them a whole new perspective…if nothing else, they see there is a lot of world out there that is different from their tiny bit of earth…
    Thanks for the post!

  • Reply
    April 27, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Hi Tipper and Malcolm, thanks for so many reminders of my growing-up years in the mountains of southwest VA. I used to love to go back on the country roads —never knowing where we were going or what we’d see. It was always SO much fun.
    I just returned home from a great trip to the mountains of West VA…. Beautiful country roads up there also…
    Thanks for sharing, Malcolm. Hope you are enjoying life now so far away.
    Tipper, Love your last couple of posts also.. The little hearts are so pretty, and I always enjoy reading about the dogwood… Thanks!

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    April 26, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    The hot day would make a warm evening out on the porch as the sun was going down and my folks would sit out there and a neighbor would be sitting, back up against the porch post chewing on a piece of grass and they would talk and talk about other times or their kin or the depression and when it was dark I would begin to nod a way and go on to bed and I could still hear them and I would fall to peaceful narcotic sleep and when Malcomb talks it’s like the way they used to sit and tell stories, gentle on the mind.
    He’s a good story teller.

  • Reply
    April 26, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Well, I really enjoyed this post. I have to say that even though I feel like we already live in the, “boondocks”, we very often take rides in the surrounding country. My camera is always in tow. I often wonder what is was exactely that I did, in my free time, when we lived in the big city. lol

  • Reply
    April 26, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    I can relate to this. We had family that lived in Sullivan county, NY and it was an hour and a half drive when I was a child and it seemed like such an exotic land. The town they lived in had maybe 2 traffic lights. They had an old country store called Canal Towne Emporium and for me as a fan of “Little House On The Prairie” it was a replication of Olson’s store. I spent a few summers up there and I think that is why I have such a love for country life even though I grew up as a city kid. Now we live in a more rural area by lots of farms in NJ and I could not be happier. If I need a city type vibe, it is only half an hour away with NYC being only one hour. Seeing old farm equipment or riding on a dirt road and seeing old silos are amazing. More folks should do it.

  • Reply
    April 26, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Great story, Malcolm!
    Thanks for sharing it, Tipper!!

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    April 26, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Thoroughly enjoyed your post including Malcolm Burgess’ guest appearance, Tipper!
    I was raised in the city but my parents would take us along with their dear friends and children as often as possible and we’d sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat, or You Are My Sunshine. While I lived in the country, I was a bit adventurous and would deliberately take another route. Its landscape held hundreds of wonderous surprises. We need to respect what’s left with every ounce of ourselves.
    Lovely, Tipper! :))

  • Reply
    April 26, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Ahhh. Love the memories that one brought. Thanks Malcolm!

  • Reply
    April 26, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Malcolm, nice job. I had a lot of very nice memories from when I was growing up on the farm and even though it was hard work and was also much easier to deal with things for some reason.
    I enjoyed this post a lot.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    April 26, 2010 at 9:54 am

    I love the story, and it brought back memories of us living on our farm and seeing the area around us developed and wondering what the world was coming to. My sons are grown now, but still have that love of the great outdoors, and although at times they thought we lived just a little too remote, now they thank us for that time in their lives and the memories they have.

  • Reply
    April 26, 2010 at 8:34 am

    i remember our rides in the country. what he meant was OTHER courtry that we were not familar with. i was raised in teh country and agree with you. our past is being destroyed and all for getting there faster. the people here in Bradenton wanted to move to The Country, so they bought out EAST about 10 to 20 miles, now the city has gone to them and they are no longer in the country. soon there will be no true old courntry left.

  • Reply
    Just Jackie
    April 26, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Love the trip down memory lane. When I was little my grandma and grandpa would pack a picnic and take a ride. (we lived in the country, too) I loved stopping at roadside parks. Food always tasted better. My best memory is drifting off to sleep in the back seat, listening to them sing old songs,(Down by the old Mill Stream, Goodnight Irene, K-K-Katy, Beautiful Ohio, etc) I felt so safe and happy. How I wish things were that simple now.

  • Reply
    April 26, 2010 at 8:03 am

    I do love the old towns & my mother & her sister loved doing things like Malcom talks about.They drug us all around to different little towns & sometimes we would walk the streets & go in & out of the little shops. Or they would hear about a house that had some story that gois along with it & we would go there & my mom & aunt would speculate their own theories in addition to what they had heard. My cousin Michele & I would try to join in Nancy Drew style & come up with our own versions which were much more fantastic than our parents, lol. Lot’s of fun & great memories of that.
    Thanks for making me think about it.

  • Reply
    Charles Fletcher
    April 26, 2010 at 7:39 am

    I would bet Malcom that we moved more times than he did while growing up.
    I can recall 12 off hand and attended 5 different schools. That was in the Canton area only.
    Never made it to Thailand.

  • Reply
    April 26, 2010 at 6:47 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. The good thing in my country is that distances are so short that the countryside is just a few miles away. I only wish I lived in the country which is only 10km from the city. Some day maybe…

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