Who Will Watch The Home Place

who will watch the old home place

Who Will Watch the Homeplace written by Kate Long

Leaves are falling and turning to showers of gold
As the postman climbs up our long hill
And there’s sympathy written all over his face
As he hands me a couple more bills

Who will watch the home place
Who will tend my hearts dear space
Who will fill my empty place
When I am gone from here

There’s a lovely green nook by a clear-running stream
It was my place when I was quite small
And it’s creatures and sounds could soothe my worst pains
But today they don’t ease me at all

Who will watch the home place
Who will tend my hearts dear space
Who will fill my empty place
When I am gone from here

In my grandfather’s shed there are hundreds of tools
I know them by feel and by name
And like parts of my body they’ve patched this old place
When I move them they won’t be the same

Now I wander around touching each blessed thing
The chimney the tables the trees
And my memories swirl ’round me like birds on the wing
When I leave here oh who will I be

Who will watch the home place
Who will tend my hearts dear space
Who will fill my empty place
When I am gone from here


Blind Pig reader, Mary Rutherford, introduced me to the beautiful bittersweet song above back in 2014 when she left a comment about it.

Mary’s comment described her yearning for the east Tennessee hills she calls home and celebrated the fact that Chatter and Chitter had decided to stick close to home for their college education.

The girls are the fifth generation of the Wilson family to live in this mountain holler.

Will there always be Wilsons living here?

If I had to make a wager I’d say if this ole world continues to turn there’ll come a time when no Wilsons live here at all.

Will the newcomers feel the spirit of all the Wilsons who walked before them: Bird, Papaw Wade, Pap, Tipper, Chatter, and Chitter? I sure hope so.

You can go here to hear an amazing rendition of the song by Laurie Lewis-one of Pap and Paul’s all time favorite female performers.



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  • Reply
    William Thomas
    November 5, 2019 at 11:51 am

    My wife’s grandmothers house has burned years ago and she has since passed away but, she still cuts her grass.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    October 14, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    I loved this post, Tipper. It tugged at my heart, and like goosebumps, traveled my entire body. Grandma’s house is no longer with us, it was torn down. A lot of home places are gone, and the only thing left is a lonely chimney or colorful daffodils that sprout up each spring. I hope there are always Wilson’s in your holler.

  • Reply
    betty stephenson
    October 14, 2017 at 1:54 am

    wow great song and i loved the poem they are both really beautiful and gets you thinking about the way it used to be you all have a great weekend

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    October 13, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Mary Rutherford used to be a regular contributor to your site. Did she ever make it back to live in East Tennessee?

    • Reply
      Mary Rutherford
      November 5, 2019 at 4:11 pm

      LOL, David Templeton, I just now discovered your comment! I am still yearning to be back in East Tennessee but I am too busy teaching school to get there. I just try and get there as often as possible to visit my heart! Thanks Tipper for reposting this as I missed the original.

  • Reply
    Leslie Haynie
    October 13, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Oh, that was so sad and lovely.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    October 13, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    I used to listen to this song done by Laurie Lewis and see that shed with Daddy’s tools and the last artifacts of a good and, at once, tormented life. I played it over and over when I first found it on a Bluegrass Sampler CD shortly after he went on to Heaven. It’s hard to not weep.
    We know how you miss your Daddy, Tipper.
    Isn’t Tamela’s writing like poetry, so poignant and beautiful.
    And beautiful thoughts by each of those writing to you today. You have some wonderful writers among your followers.

  • Reply
    October 13, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    I enjoyed the singing and your written words. There are a lot of sentimental thoughts today about the “homeplace.” I’m the last of my family, it’s hell being the youngest, cause I’ve buried my daddy and mama and 5 brothers. How I wish I could go back to the way it use to be! Back then, I had my parents and a flock of brothers to watch over and cancel me.
    My girls will someday own our homeplace, I feel they’ll treat it well. …Ken

  • Reply
    October 13, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Gorgeous sentiments. it makes me think of one of your blogs from years ago about defining “place” and “home”. So many stories – not only mine, but those told to me by previous generations; so many visions – have come to mind.
    It makes me especially melancholy as our area is suddenly experiencing a rapid and huge spurt of development. Where one were wonderful patchworks of varied fields and woods are now bulldozed and shredded areas marked off as “tract 1”, “tract 2” etc.
    Several years ago when an area between Austin and San Marcos was experiencing explosive development, a developer was quoted as he overlooked pastures and farmland (this accompanied by a partial profile of this man contemplating said land) “this is a blank canvas just waiting for me to paint it with homes and streets and parks and schools for people wanting their own piece of the pie – I feel like Michaelangelo painting the Mona Lisa!” (I am not a fan of Andy Warhol and to me, developments are like Andy Warhol’s work painted over Michaelangelo’s!) I have a hard time believing the developer is as altruistic as that statement implies; I also know for a fact that soon, people forget what went before. The fields and orchards where I worked and played as a child are covered with developments. No one knows why I drive slowly through those neighborhoods looking for something left of my childhood. No one knows my name. No one knows of the dreams dreamed, the plans made, the loves both found and lost, they are making their own and they have nothing to do with what went on before. It makes me very melancholy indeed.

  • Reply
    October 13, 2017 at 11:15 am

    That poem says so very much! We can miss the old home place as much sometimes as we do a departed loved one. There are just so many memories, good and bad, that make it home. I cannot go back to my childhood home. I fear it would catch me off guard in a swirl of memories. Others do not always feel that same sadness at the thought of visiting what once was home. My sister has been back to visit the folks who bought the house, and she treats it much like she visited an old friend. In so many ways the home is my Dad. He built on additions, planted numerous of his favorite trees, and I so fear I would still see him in my rear view mirror standing on the porch watching me drive out of sight. They say to fight your fears, but I will just let this one be. I will fight the tears for now!
    I do not dwell and prefer to concentrate on all that is uplifting in life. I love to laugh and play with children, and most of the time am just a happy camper. I don’t cry at sad movies or songs. This poem, however, must have struck that lonely secret place in my heart. I think we all have a sad space there where we store memories of parts of our past we cannot give up. Thanks to Kate Long for a poem so moving, and thanks to Tipper for recognizing what is truly priceless–home.
    The Wilsons will be there a long time. They know the value of home and family.

  • Reply
    wanda Devers
    October 13, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Mama always said that everything changes. My brother wrote a piece about her talking about change that was read at her funeral. One of the saddest things is seeing the old home places change or disappear even though all the memories may not be happy ones. I wouldn’t be surprised if spirits walk around them all the time.

  • Reply
    Charles Ronald Perry, Sr.
    October 13, 2017 at 10:50 am

    I would love to hear the twins sing that song. I have the CD with Laurie singing it and it is one of my favorite songs by her

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 13, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Here is a rendition of the song that rivals Laurie Lewis.
    When we divided up the home place, my youngest sister got the part in the center with the house on it. She promptly sold it. Now the rest of us own the doughnut. The heart of our homeplace has been ripped out. The youngest now lives in her lonely mansion on the hill and the rest of us are scattered about like so many leaves. C’est la vie……………..

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    October 13, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Love both the poem and the singing of it, and love your thoughts of Wilson holler. I have similar thoughts as I wander down the steps into the dirt floor basement with its blended smell of earth, sawdust and apples or out in the garden which has provided nature’s bounty to the Casadas for three-quarters of a century. Susan and I came back to this place where I grew up after Daddy died; it was actually her suggestion that we do so (now you know who has the brains in our outfit). But I can’t imagine any of our children following in our footsteps. So who will till the garden in spring; who will spend hours untold happily sawing away down in the basement? Who will look out across town to the Alarkas and watch the folds in the mountains as the sun sets?
    I think someone who understands and cares will come after we’re gone. They will, like I’ve done, go back through the history of deeds to see who came and went before. They’ll learn of the man who bought the property and first occupied the house in February of 1890, but never got his family to come along. It was the last property he ever bought and he sold it in 1892. His wife did all the land purchasing after that. I suspect she saw the 96 steps from the street below up to the house and said she wasn’t going to carry groceries up that hill. She bought property and had a lovely house built on Main Street. But it was gone when I was a lad – replaced by a motel. This old house, which doesn’t have a square corner in it and has a dining room floor with about five inches of slope from one side to the other, has stood here for more than a century and a quarter, and I bet it’ll still be here – and loved – long after they’ve planted me on the hillside.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    October 13, 2017 at 9:04 am

    I often wonder the same about my family. I guess it weighs on me a lot because I’m the only one who left and went off into the world. My mom’s family still owns the 18 acre home place in the holla where I was born. But, no Fishers live there anymore.
    The Karshners, however, we’ve been in the Salt Creek Valley (the place where Hocking County, Ross County, and Pickaway County come together) since 1798. My nieces and nephews are the 9th generation to live there. As a matter of fact, from my parents back porch, you can see the hill where my 6th great grandfather, who settled Hocking County (his stone house is the oldest stone home in the county) , is buried.
    My thought, hope, and prayer is that Karshners will be there for another nine generations.
    There is a strength in that connection to place and one I’ve worked to grow in my kids.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 13, 2017 at 8:56 am

    As Briscoe Darlin said on ‘The Andy Grifith Show’, “That’un makes me cry.” It is inspired writing that captures so well the wound that never quite heals of having left home. I especially like the word “heartspace” and the question of what will fill it. I think the answer is that nothing in this world ever quite will.
    Where I’m from there are several hollers with family names; Jones, Coffey, Dobbs …. but nobody lives there now. I hope there will always be Wilson folks in Wilson Holler.

  • Reply
    Leilani Worrell
    October 13, 2017 at 8:10 am

    I used this song at my dog’s graveside service; I know — a dog! But the chorus fit him so well; he was an excellent companion, guardian, and so faithful and loyal. I had written a poem about him when he was young, when we lost him for an afternoon after he chased a jackrabbit. When he died, I finished the poem; my mother-in-law could not read it without crying. I used the tune for background music when I made a video of his life.
    I was glad to hear it has touched other people’s hearts, too.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 13, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Tip, there is no place that is my home. Growing up we moved to a lot of different towns and states while my parents were trying to find their way back to their home, Haywood County NC. By the time they got there I was almost grown so never made a connection to a specific area but a general love and connection to the mountains. I’ve always been happier and more content in the mountains.
    My move to Murphy, almost three years ago, brought me great contentment and a feeling of home.
    I love the picture, with the steps to nowhere!

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