June 2006

My Memories of the Spikers

Melanie Spiker-Fouse

The family reunion from a child's point of view.

Since I’m much younger than my cousins, I never got to spend much time at the Spiker Farm except for the reunions. Every Memorial Day weekend, we loaded up the car and headed for Ritchie County. The fun began when Daddy found the first turtle in the road. He always stopped and picked it up and it got a one-way ticket to it’s new home at the Spiker Farm with a lay-over at the South Fork Baptist Church. Although they had a Sunday school teacher, he would often ask Daddy to teach that morning. I don’t know how Daddy felt about teaching in the church he grew up in but I know I was proud the first time they asked me to play the piano (and scared to death). After a trip across to the cemetery to visit the ancestors, we drove down to the farm where we parked by the fence that ran in front of the house. Bobbi Jo and I would take our play clothes up the stairs, past the map on the wall that was so big they used it like wallpaper, to what we knew as “the girls’ bedroom” where we quickly changed. Then it was a race back to the car to dig around under the seats in search of our “pet for the day”. Thus began a day of wonderful memories of the Spikers.

I remember Uncle Brad liked to tell about the “sweet-shrub” that grew outside the dining room window. He said the girls would pinch off a bud and crush it and carry it around in their pocket to make them smell sweet.

The first day many of us were allowed to go outside bare-footed was on that Sunday. When the shoes came off, the first place we headed for was the river. The river in front of the Spiker Farm was very accommodating for all ages. It had shallow areas for those of us who were too small or unable to swim and deeper areas where the bravest of the bunch could swing from a rope and drop into the river. That rope hung from the limb of a tree beside the swinging bridge. I would watch from my shallow area as many of my cousins sailed out over the river and dropped into the water below. Even though I never got up the courage to do it myself, I watched the others and enjoyed the experience from afar as the old folks sat on the porch and watched us all. Today, I’ve joined the old folks on the porch but I still watch and enjoy from a distance as my own children and grandchildren wade in the shallows and swing from the rope.

In my childhood, we would always rush to the head of the line when it came time to eat. I don’t know about the others but I wanted to make sure I got a big helping of Mom’s (Dean’s) homemade noodles. As we grew older, we changed it so that the elders got to go first. And I still rush to the table to be sure I get a big helping of homemade noodles. Only now, I’ve taken over the making of them. They still seem to be a favorite of everyone, young and old alike.

Once, Aunt Jean, who taught 3rd grade, let me grade her students’ papers. She gave me her “cheat” sheet and I checked all the wrong answers, then she showed me how to calculate their grades. I was probably only in the 6th grade so I thought I was “big stuff”. Then, Aunt Jean thanked me for all my hard work and I felt ten feet tall. She is a wonderfully giving and loving soul. She knew just the right thing to say or do.

Soon it was time to pack up and after a brief trip to Berea to see Mom’s folks, we headed for Good Hope. But, not without a stop at the Dairy King for ice cream! After getting home, we had to face the unloading of the car and washing all the dishes we’d used to make our contributions to the food. But, the day couldn’t be ALL good!