This is Henry Clinton Milam (also known as H.C. to many) Harriet’s husband of 69 years.

(picture is circa 1993 from the B’ham News)

Yes, you did read that right. I did say 69 years and they are shooting for 70.  I felt it was time that you were introduced to the person who sat at the head of the table. Harriet was not the only person who gave me roots, H.C.  gave me some good roots too, literally.

While my earliest memory ever is of being in the tomato patch with Harriet when I was about 3, most of my actual garden memories have to do with H.C.  Farming and Army were granddaddy’s two life long careers.  H.C. is a decorated WWII veteran who fought in Japan. He also later spent a career in the National Guard from which he retired. And lastly, he actively farmed from about 1950 to just a handful of years ago. Being one of the older grand kids, I remember well the close to 200 acres  he grew cotton and corn on.

I remember eating the corn straight off the cobb as soon as it came out of the field.

I remember purple fingers from shelling pink eye purple hull peas.

I remember folks coming by to fish in his catfish pond.

I remember spending all day outside with my cousins.

I remember finding a toilet on a cement slab in the middle of one of the garden patches. That is how I found out that when mama was a girl, she had to use an out house.

I grew up eating fresh vegetables in the summer. I loved tomatoes in particular (still do).  I ate so many sliced tomatoes with Lawry’s seasoning salt one time, that I got sick in mama’s car on the way back to our house one night.

The bounty was always plentiful.

I grew up eating home canned vegetable in the winter…now, I dabble at canning some myself. (just dabble though)

Later, when I was a little older, they sold the big place where they raised their kids and moved to a smaller 10 acre farm on Main St, just a mile or so from where we lived. I have even more memories of that place.

Granddaddy was always outside. I saw him out in the garden somewhere nearly every morning on my way to school. The school happened to be right next door to the new place. Grandmother had a field of Blackeyed Susan’s close to the road most years and just beyond that were the muscadine vines, and then the fruit trees, and then the garden a little to the left.

I remember fruit trees that grew more than one variety of a fruit because Granddaddy knew how to graft.

I remember the circus, complete with Tiny Tim, setting up on the back half of the property when they came to town. Granddaddy made it so that all of us grandkids could go every night if we wanted to. We even got to ride elephants. I think I was about 11ish.

I remember watching the bluebird houses.

I remember the year he got the watermelon seeds and the squash seeds mixed up. He planted a WHOLE field of squash. Lots of folks got free squash that year.

I remember the old fashioned bell ringing when someone needed to buy some fresh produce off the back porch.

I remember taking my baby daughter back home to see them for the first time when she was about 3 months old. I remember that she was fussy at twilight, and that stepping outside and letting her look around as we walked the property was the only thing that would calm her down. (it calmed the new mother too)

That place too eventually had to sell when they weren’t able to take care of it any more. When I go home, and I drive by it, I smile…and I get a little sad too because it doesn’t look the same…and because I know, Granddaddy would still love to be out there in that garden, bringing in a mess of green beans for Harriet to put on the table.