Tuesday, January 11, 2011


One of the many wonderful benefits of growing up on a farm in the late 40s and 50s was the absence of boundaries, as a boy my friends and I were free to roam and explore our town and the farmlands around us. Less than a mile from our farm were the Donato brother’s orchards with the most delicious apples and peaches hanging from the trees just waiting for us to come along on bikes or ponies. At the very northern edge of the orchards was Friendship church and cemetery, a white clapboard one-room church nestled under the umbrellas of a stand old Oak Trees. The old time worn head stones adjacent to the church dated back to the early 1800’s. Somewhat later came the stones with names familiar to me, including my grandmother and her young children that did not survive infancy, and my uncle Marx of whom I had only vague memories.

Along the edge of the cemetery was a pump that with a little effort would produce the coolest, sweetest water to quench the thirst that came with the bike rides on hot summer days. I don’t know if it was the cool water, the shade from the Oak trees, the sweet fruits just a stone throw away, or the white Jersey sand beneath our feet, but that small spot in the midst of the south Jersey woods and truck farms was like an oasis for me, an impression that has withstood time and distance. Over the years other members of our family would join my grandmother…my grandfather, an uncle, 2 aunts, 2 cousins, and most recently, my mother and father, next to whom my own place is reserved.

Since moving to Kentucky I don’t get back to Friendship as often as I used to, but when I do, I still feel the magic of that special place, and my entire life feels compressed into one moment in time.

FRIENDSHIP CHURCH...watercolor by the gifted artist Julio Rodriguez

1 comment:

Amy said...

I LOVE that painting, Dad! I love the post too. Keep them coming!