My last visit to Pinhook was seven years ago. I hate to think it has been that long ago. I had returned for a funeral. My mother recently asked me to go back with her to clean out a storage unit of my grandmother’s belongings so we could locate some important papers. We were in the process of planning a trip back to this spring to take care of this when we got word of all the rain that was beginning to fall and the possibility of the Army Corp. of Engineers breaching the levee. Never in my wildest dreams did I think they would do this.
I thought back to the floods of 1973 and 1974. We had moved from Pinhook and taken my grandmother’s trailer home to town at the time. Most of the families had decided to leave. My mother was adamant that she was going to remain. The other families told her she could not stay alone with her two young children. It was just too dangerous. With the potential of the water rising, there was no way that it was remotely safe for her to stay. She insisted that she remain and protect her property. After they convinced her to finally leave, we packed up our essential belongings and headed out. Well, my mother, hard-headed as she is, insisted she drive her car. We were placed in the bean truck with a gentleman mother drove Pontiac Le-Mans through the flood waters. Now, imagine, the ditches on either side of the road were at least 6 feet deep or more, and the water on the road was almost covering the hood of the car as we drove slowly for the mile out of this water. We got through it, on pins and needles no less. We spent about three or four months away from our beloved Pinhook until it was deemed safe to return home. Our cousin Jerome Robinson and Mr. Eza Lee Cross stayed in our home, at my mother’s request to protect our home. Jim Robinson and his brothers, Cal and Lynell who were farmers, all remained on Pinhook to protect the property of the homeowners. George Williams, who drove our school bus had moved his family into town as well.
In 1974, we made the move once again into town. Some of us moved to Charleston instead of East Prairie this time. We again were gone a few months. Now, you must know that during this time, the flood waters never reached the homes on Pinhook on the main road. Jim Robinson and a few others who lived a few miles a little farther back, weren’t so lucky. After Jim and his family rebuilt that last time, they made the decision to build closer to other families. Most of us helped in the rebuilding. My last trip home was to Jim’s funeral. My grandmother married his uncle, so we were related by marriage.
After my husband and I moved to New York, it became more difficult for us to travel home. We could only make one trip back home a year. My mom moved away as well, and now she no longer lives in Missouri. We now have to split our time between two families. I miss home more than ever. When I dream, I dream of Pinhook. It’s the only real home I ever had.
Another person who was important to me recently passed away. Mary Williams. She was like a mother to me. I spent more time at her house than mine. My husband and I had just returned home to New York from Missouri when we received word of her passing. It’s like losing a part of who you are. I miss her even though I had not seen Mary in a long time, I still yearned for what was. I miss her children, because they were like my brothers and sisters growing up.
So as I have been sitting here watching the news and the levee being blown up by the Army Corp of Engineers, I think back to all of my childhood memories. That is not to say that I don’t think about them before this. It’s just it has put them at the forefront of my mind on a daily basis more than ever. I think about the clubhouse that Faye and Vanessa and I used to build. It all makes me remember us riding our bikes down to the corner, then going down in the field, down that little dirt road past the row of trees, back around to that little spring and come up in front of Daddy Jim’s house and pick some Pecans. Maybe ride our bikes down to Retha and Jim’s house. If that didn’ t suffice, head on over to the church and hang out down by the row of trees and feel the cool breeze by that old tractor. Maybe have a water fight from house to house. Oh, what about everyone coming to my mom’s house for cool drink of water from her fridge and listen to her get mad about it?
I miss Pinhook.