Gerald arranged with his brothers to take their wives with us to YouBeDam Holler to visit the restaurant at the Trail of Tears Lodge and Resort. Garry was suffering a nasty summer cold, and so he and Ginger couldn’t go when Friday night came.
The restaurant is open to the public on Friday and Saturday nights only, and I’ve wanted to go there for a long time. Not just because a restaurant in a barn is my kind of place, but because I wanted to ask the owners Ron and Deb Charles about their Cherokee ancestry.
It was a beautiful early summer evening when we left Woodsong, and we enjoyed the drive down Route 57 and on through the winding hills to Keith and Barbara’s place with the green engulfing us all the way. Barb had just come in from work and was sitting in their car ready to be our chauffeur. After speaking to the dog and admiring the fowl, we were off for more scenic driving admiring Keith and Tim’s cattle and horses as we passed their pastures.
We had been told by the Lodge that Route 3 was closed with water and to take 127 out of Jonesboro to the Old Cape Road. Those spectacular hills and hollows at twilight continued to blast our eyes with deep green as we drove through the tall trees. Wild orange day lilies, that we called tiger lilies when I was a child, decorated the road that led us into YouBeDam Holler and Fair City, a serene village of well-cared for homes and lawns.
At the end of Fair City Road, we drove over the bridge and into the resort. Keith immediately recalled making hay there with Garry years ago for the former farmer who then owned the land. Deb greeted us at the door as we entered the barn. As we ate all the fish we could eat, she and Ron were most gracious hosts answering my multitude of questions.
Deb had done extensive research on their family trees and interestingly had found both of them had ancestral connections to the Elco community. Although they know their families came from North Carolina lineage, they don’t know when or how they arrived here in Southern Illinois but it was a long time ago. A trip to Tahlequah convinced Deb that her family had cooked Cherokee as she found folk out there eating the same bread and the same grape dumplings she had grown up eating at her grandmother’s.
After a leisurely dinner that satisfied our hunger for food and for good companionship with each other and with Ron and Deb, we drove through fading daylight back to Keith and Barbara’s farm. We had more good visiting there with them and our nephew DuWayne, who was kind enough to bring up his four-year-old granddaughter Gracie. I always want to hear Keith’s stories about Gracie and her knowledge and enthrallment with all of the farm animals, and I had not seen her for a couple of years. It was past her bedtime, but this delightful child was not a disappointment. Finally after yet another round of visiting outside as we departed, we headed back to Woodsong.
We had gotten an invitation to Gerald’s cousin Terry Wenger’s retirement party on Saturday, which was at the Trail of Tears State Park’s large shelter, near the Wenger farm. Thus, we returned to our Union County roots for the second day in a row. There it was good to see friends and the Wenger cousins and Barb and Keith again as well as making some acquaintances. As always when the Wengers gather, good food abounded including the beautifully decorated retirement cake Irma made.
My childhood buddy Harlan Coffman from Jonesboro and his son-in-law Scott, who was visiting here from Amarillo, were showing off their finds from an auction they’d attended. Harlan had acquired a straight-edged razor just like my daddy used to use. Except Harlan’s was closed up in a leather case. Not realizing that he and Scott were leaving to meet up with their wives and the grandchildren, I was fooled and Harlan managed to get me face tag. I saw the side of his face afterwards, however, and claimed I got him back although I bet he would deny it. We have been playing this game for over 60 years now.
Since our brother Garry was still being considerate to not pass his cold on to others, Gerald had to run by the field where Garry was spraying soy beans before we could finish our foray to Mississippi bottom country.
Causes Sue Glasco Supports