Growing Up….. on Frazier’s Farm
It was 38 years ago that my parents allowed me to pack up, move out of the house, get on a Trailways bus and move north (slightly anyway) to Tennessee. Yes, it sounds a bit dramatic when I say it this way. Of course, I was doing nothing different from most 18 year-olds who had finished high school in the small town Talladega, Alabama.
In fact, my parents had “allowed” several of my older siblings to do the same or similar. And it isn’t as if they stood by idly watching us pack, they helped. Possibly with tears in their eyes knowing that at 18 their children were unlikely to reside under their roof ever again. That was the reality for Babyboomers. When you left, you left. And you usually left when you got that diploma in hand.
That diploma was supposed to be your ticket not just out of Talladega – but a ticket to something, some place where you would one day make the homefolks proud. And most of us growing up on Frazier’s Farm would do just that.
We were destined to do something. We were surrounded by role models when the words role model were not even meaningful in anyone’s community. Our parents were role models for starters - even without college degrees or high paying jobs.
And Mr. Frazier quite naturally was a role model. Just how much land did he own anyway before he started selling parcels out to families moving in from Alpine, Childersburg, Mardisville, Barclay and other areas in Talladega County. Parcels where fathers joined together to be sure neighbors' homes were built.
Other role models on the Farm were our teachers from Westside Elementary, Junior High and High School. Most of the teachers lived on West Battle Street. We didn’t think much of what the street meant – Battle Street. But looking back at it now… we must’ve had quite a few role models in the Civil War. Perhaps it was the spirits of those ancestors that walked with us when we walked from Frazier’s Farm to Westside each day. To get to school, we had to walk through the Talladega College campus. A school built for the children of slaveowners. A school built mostly by slaves and former slaves. It opened in 1867.
Talladega, in fact, is named for an Indian princess. So our Native American ancestors too served as our role models. Those spirits never die.
It was not until I attended the recent Westside-Drewery Grand Reunion celebrating the 40th anniversary of the closing of Westside High School that I truly reconnected and felt this strong appreciation for having grown up on Frazier’s Farm. The class reunion was excellent but the reunion of families in attendance was incredibly spiritual. Nothing compares to one’s childhood memories when we look back at how far we have come and how God laid the plan even before we were born who we would be and where we would be today. I am grateful for my past. I am thankful for my childhood days of hopscotch, Mother-May-I, Hide and Seek and tree-climbing and Front Street baseball games and a milk man who delivered milk on Saturday mornings and Mother Bell’s Church Revivals for the delivery of souls and Easter Morning recitations and shaking plums from trees and picking blackberries and wading in knee deep waters from the sometimes flooded ditches and dirt road playtime and the miles walked to and from school and the pond now closed but the memories of fishing there forever open and watermelon men when the melons were just twenty-five cents and many, many intergenerational friends and the families that looked out for one another and took care of one another and built homes for one another. That was Frazier’s Farm. The streets were named for the residents, the families many of whom are long gone now but whose memories will live forever for those of us today – whether we left Talladega or not – those of us who are so proud that we grew up on Frazier’s Farm.