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"This morning we have a beautiful cover of snow that softly blanketed us during the night. The sight of it conjures up memories of long ago which I am sure you and your children will be interested in since it involves your family.This snow scene brings back to the Cooks and Hairstons and Wallace and many other children snowballing each other during recess at the little school in Crawford. One room, one teacher, can you believe it? We obeyed promptly when she came to the door ringing a big brass dinner bell to call us into that cozy room heated by a pot bellied, coal-burning stove. Such happy and carefree, days they were for us children! As I look back on those years I realize the enormity of the effort it must have been for Mrs. Cook to got her children to school in all kinds of weather. Penn Station, which was a flag-stop of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and the address of the Cook Plantation, was "as the crow flies" about four miles from Crawford where all of us attended school and the Methodist Church. Lena Mae remembers that Mr. Boone, who is really the "star" of this dissertation, appeared one late and lazy afternoon when all of the Cooks were rocking and relaxing on their front porch. He stated who he was and from whence he came and that he needed a job. He said that Mr. Cook had been suggested to him as a fair and good and honorable man who probably could give him work. He said that he had been working in a small country store in the Oktoc Community west of Crawford but the income there was inadequate. Mrs. Cook's first words to him were "have you eaten"? So like gentle, thoughtful, wonderful Mrs. Cook
Mr. Cook had a general store on his plantation at the back of which was built living quarters and this became Mr. Boone's home all of the years that he worked far the Cooks.
He was a rugged, nice-looking man of about sixty years. Immaculate in dress and manner and in every way. He spoke of his native Kentucky but I know nothing more of his origin. He really needed on verbal background for he reflected only the best and made such a "Rock-of. Gibraltar" place for himself. He was truly "a man of all seasons".
Mr. Boone worked in the store all year but when school time arrived he drove a surry, drawn by two horses and packed with Cook children to school at Crawford. As fall and winter came he fashioned a covered wagon. The frame he made of hickory wood which was cut on the farm and bent and molded and fit onto the wagon bed. This was covered with a tarpaulin. The bed inside was then covered with specially selected luscious, sweet smelling hay. Mrs. Cook supplied quilts and blankets and heated bricks were added each morning to insure warmth and comfort within. Mr. Boone wore a fur lined cap and heavy coat and boots. I often wondered if he were related to Daniel Boone he looked so much like pictures I had seen of Daniel Boone.
We had no paved or graveled roads at that time. When the winter rains and snow came, mules replaced the horses as, mud clogged the wagon wheels and made the going hard and slow-but school was important and seldom was a day missed.
Every morning, Mrs. Cook and her faithful cook, Laurie, her housemaid, Lindy and her nursemaid, Emily, prepared a steaming hot breakfast of eggs, country sausage or bacon, or ham and grits and fat biscuits with real country butter and jelly or jam. Strong coffee for Mr. Bonne and warm milk for the children. While this meal was being consumed, lunches were being prepared for each child and Mr. Boone.
Mr. Boone and the negro men, "hands" on the farm, were up early feeding the team of the day, putting in bags of oats and corn for the mules and making ready for his treasured journey to Crawford school.
When the children were safely inside the school house and his team tethered behind the coal house in the school yard, Mr. Boone walked to downtown Crawford (about two blocks), and passed the day with Captain Art Ervin, Civil War Veteran, my father, Uncle Shep Ledbetter and several other merchants who sat around pot-bellied stoves swapping stories of the past and news of the day; also a lively game of checkers was almost always in program. This occupied the hours until time to ready the wagon and collect the children for the return trip home.
When spring began to warm the earth, thaw streams; and spread a carpet of green and yellow dandelions over the meadow which was adjacent to the school yard, Mr. Boone would take the children, me and all who wanted to go, to the bank of a small brook that was in sight of the school. My sister and I would persuade Mama to let us take our lunch and we could swap with Lena Mae and Lula. While we ate we listened to the most wonderful adventure stories told to us by Mr. Boone. These were, truly wonderful days.
Mr. Boone had a very wholesome philosophy which he passed on to all of us. Lena Mae recalled last summer when we were together and "remembering when" two of his adages: "Brag is a good dog but Holdfast is better." "Slow, easy, and steady will do it every time."
He taught the Cook boys how to handle a gun safely, how to hunt and fish.
"A man of all seasons unforgettable and lovable Mr. Boone! !!
By Annie Ashley Gentry Sclator(Annie is buried in Mayhew Cemetery, as are her daughters, Callie Sclator McGraw, Clara Sclator Fortune and Mary Lee Sclater Mullins below)
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