Five Days Immersion in Hyde History

What a week! Last Tuesday I left at 5:00 a.m. and drove three hours to my brother Jason’s house in Eldersburg. My sister-in-law, Kristi, drove my dad and I to BWI Airport, where we flew to Little Rock. My little nephews made the drive with us, and as we were getting out, Justin (the four-year-old) said wistfully, “I’m gonna miss you guys!” It made me want to climb back in and go home with him.

But I didn’t. We landed in Arkansas just before a downpour, which we drove in as we navigated our rental car to the little town of Paragould, about three hours away.

For the next few days, my dad and I worked alongside his two brothers and their wives as we worked to get my grandparents’ house ready to go on the market. My grandparents–we call them Nana & Popeye–had to be placed in nursing homes last November. They’d lived in this house for about 55 years, so there was a ton of stuff to go through.

We made multiple trips to a local charity to donate things and also made many trips to the dump. We finally got everything in order for the house to be presented by a realtor, wrapping it up just in time for us to drive back to Little Rock around midnight.

It was a week that’s hard to describe. Some things evoke an emotional reaction that’s easy to describe, but this went deeper than that. It was almost as though the last century all blurred together in my mind, and I couldn’t tell you what decade I was in. There was a barn out back that had been built before the Civil War, and we had to tear it down. We pulled out a bunch of antique farm equipment first, and also some newspapers dating back to the 1890s (maybe further, but the oldest date we could find was 1890s).

Here’s one of the last pictures taken of the barn, from the last evening it saw standing. The picture quality is low because it was taken with my phone.

This picture was taken the next day, from near the same spot as the one above.

We kept coming across family photos from the early 1900s, and family letters from the 1930s up through the 1990s. They included letters from my dad and my uncles when they were in college. There was a letter from my mom written shortly after she’d met her soon-to-be in-laws for the first time. There was even a note that I’d written to my grandparents when I was probably about seven, and another one written when I was about 17. My dad grew up in that house, and we kept finding things from his childhood, like an old shotgun and a bat endorsed by Yogi Berra. Everywhere I went, I saw very vividly not only my own memories, but also images of my dad’s family as they lived there decades ago.

Meanwhile, we’d stop to rest every once in a while (this was made all the more necessary by the fact that the AC was out until about two or three hours before we left), and my dad, uncles, and aunts would tell old family stories.

When this is what you do day and night for several days, only leaving the house to go out to eat, it’s easy to lose track of time in a major way.

Friday night we stayed at my uncle Randy’s house in Little Rock, and on Saturday we visited with Nana & Popeye before flying back to BWI. It was so good to see them, hard as it was because of their frail condition. Nana knew who we were most of the time, and there were a couple moments when Popeye knew who we were.

After a week like that, it’s weird to be back on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in June of 2007. I arrived back here around midnight on Saturday. In the days ahead I’ll try to get some pictures scanned to give you a visual of Paragould and the Hyde family heritage.

It might also be worth sharing excerpts of some of the letters on here. We found some letters from my grandfather’s brother who died in 1937 when he was electrocuted. He worked in radio, and he was tracking Amelia Earhart when she disappeared, and he wrote about that. The letters had a lot of interesting history like that.

Published in: on June 6, 2007 at 8:11 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I didn’t know he was tracking Amelia Earhardt!!

  2. Neither did I. Pretty interesting, huh?

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