Boyhood Memories

Just at the turn of the century,
My mem'ry takes me back
To times long gone when a bare-foot boy
In truth did nothing lack.
A little farm in Illinois
Was the stage beyond compare,
Where as a lad I lived and grew
And found that life was fair.

Just forty acres rolling land
Near a lazy, muddy creek,
That knew the stirrings of the spring
And winters cold and bleak.
And when twelve acres more or less
Were added to the north,
With curious mind straightway explored
And mysteries brought forth.

Up hill and down in sunshine bright,
Or season chill and damp;
I roamed the fields and imagining
A one-time Indian Camp.
Found arrow-heads and gray stone-axe,
The legends old took form;
In fancy saw the red-skin hordes
Ride slinking through the storm.

"A few years back", so I was told,
"The wild deer roaming free;
Had just here paused to slake their thirst".
Another mystery.
I wondered if the fat, black bears
Had passed just where I stood;
Enchanted, thrilled and a bit afraid,
I knew that life was good.

Just to the west, a forest dark,
Yet, friendly to a boy;
Mulberry trees and the ripe red-haw
But added to my joy.
Goose-berry bushes and their thorns;
I counted nothing lost
When the tasty black-haws yielded to
The kiss of old Jack Frost.

The singing birds an orchestra
Of glad symphonic mirth;
It seemed in ecstacy the woods
To them had given birth.
The frisky squirrels up trees and down
Their barking added charm;
It seemed the birds and squirrels and things
Would keep me safe from harm.

The very earth burst into bloom
When springtime's warmth had come;
A carpet gay for eager feet,
Yet loath to tread upon.
The "Johny-Jump-Ups" saucy blue,
"Bluebells" with dew were bright;
The "Lady-Britches" on display,
The daisies pink and white.

The old foot-log that spanned the stream,
The water deep and still;
With fishing-pole I sat at dusk
And heard the Whippoorwill.
The catfish swam 'neath the piled up drift,
I seemed in a world apart.
Those days so full, the abundant life,
Are dear to an "old boy's" heart.

No more I'll know the old time thrill
That lives in the heart of a boy;
No more I'll roam through the mystic woods,
Know peace without alloy.
'Though well I know that life today
Is void of mysteries;
In rev'rent thankfulness I bow
To boyhood's memories.

H. B. Austin