On Alabama/US Highway 231, you can traverse the entire state north to south. But when you hit a stretch of road in the southeast corner of the state between the small college town on Troy (home of the Troy Trojans) and the town of Ozark, you are near a very special place.
Aunt Maug and Uncle Hubbert’s farm.
The farm is located just outside of Brundidge, Alabama, which bills itself as “Alabama’s Own Antique City.” And that, I suppose, is one way of putting it.
Once you get south of Brundidge on 231, you have to start looking for the turn. It is practically hidden. And the road you are looking for is not paved with asphalt, but concrete slabs. About halfway down that concrete slab paved road is a sign that says Tennille with an arrow pointing down Shiver Road.
Shiver, as in Hubbert and Maug Shiver, my mother’s sister and her husband.
It is fitting that the road is now named after them, but when I was growing up it was simply Route 2, Brundidge. And my Uncle Hubbert was the mailman for the area.
You go almost exactly a mile down Route 2/Shiver Road and as you come around at curve you can look down a hill and see the farm. The gray house had changed a bit since I was a child, but it is certainly recognizable – as is the small house across the street where Uncle Hubbert was born in 1928. During the 1980s it was Aunt Maug’s shop where she designed flower arrangements and had a wedding planning business.
Uncle Hubbert worked full time delivering mail, but he also ran a fully functioning farm. At one time or another he raised horses, chickens and pigs. He also had fields of soy beans, corn and no telling what else I don’t know about during my childhood. Uncle Hubbert is one of the two hardest working and most respectable men I know.
I could not begin to count the nights I have spent there. As a matter of fact, up until my brother was born when I was 4, Santa Claus only came to the farm. I don’t even think he knew where our house on East Collins Street in Dothan was.
At one point or another, my mother and all of her sisters called the farm home. Before I was born my grandmother’s house was moved from Tennille (a now dead town my mother’s family moved out of – with the exception of my grandfather who is buried there in a lost graveyard behind the kudzu covered ruin of a church) to the farm and still stands on an acre of land next to my aunt and uncle’s house, even though my grandmother – who would have been 101 on April 2nd – has been dead over a decade now.
I barely remember the pigs or my older cousin’s horses.
But I can remember reaching under chickens for eggs and bringing them back to the house for breakfast.
I wish I could tell you all about it.
About Suzi the Suzuki motorcycle Daddy and Uncle Hubbert used to ride us cousins on – along with the smaller less impressive, but still fun to ride, Yamaha. We used to go down the dirt road and stop and pick blackberries still warm from the sun for a snack.
About the tractor that was built sometime in the 1940s, but Uncle Hubbert assures me still runs like a champ. I cannot imagine how many miles Uncle Hubbert has logged on her – I have a few miles under my belt as well.
About the stars you can see from the yard on a clear night.
About my grandmother’s flower beds (when she was alive), sassy as ever and could grow anything – with a dip of snuff in her lip.
About Roadey the donkey that once literally kicked Uncle Hubbert in the ass – and then got a kick back.
Jumping hay bales with my cousins.
Skipper and Gigi – the untamable horses.
Fishing with a cane pole with my grandmother an cousins.
Simon the Siamese cat who we thought would live forever. And, for a cat, he just about did.
Fish frys on Saturdays.
Cutting down Christmas trees.
Sleepovers at my grandmother’s with my cousins.
Stickers in the yard. (I learned to always wear shoes. Grown ups did not like it when you got stuck and they had to come rescue you when you ran out of bald patches of ground to walk on between the houses.)
Fighting and playing and running like mad with the closest things to sisters I have ever had – my cousins.
No matter how far any of us have roamed we have all come back to Aunt Maug and Uncle Hubbert’s at one time or another and basked in the memories of our childhood.
I think it is getting time for a trip home.