Sounds From My First Home

by on August 31, 2022 · 6 comments

in From the Soul

by Ernie McCray

My mind wanders to my first home,
in Tucson,
the home in which
I spent the first twelve years of my life,
a duplex adobe apartment
I’m recollecting
through sounds,
the sounds of my granddaddy and I
harmonizing gospel songs,|
or the sounds of Arthur Godfrey
plunking a Ukulele on the radio
before I headed off to school,
sounds of Lee Audrey’s soulful voice
wafting softly through the walls from next door,
so much Billie Holiday in her sound.
I can hear “peek-a-boo”
and lullabies
and fairy tales,
and my “Ummm”
as I rubbed my always very hungry belly
in appreciation of my mother’s culinary expertise,
her well-seasoned black-eyed peas
or cornbread and okra
and collard greens
or chicken fricassee,
recipes from the Mississippi
branch of our Family Tree,
and I can hear her pouring water
into the big wash tub
in which we bathed
when the rickety shower
forgot its purpose in lifeand wouldn’t behave.
I can hear Rusty, the chow dog
across the street,
known for his savagery,
pulling against his constraints,
barking wildly,
while the mail man
or the milkman
or the iceman
or anybody
who had business at the Neal’s house,
prayed for both their hides
and their lives,
hoping that the links in Rusty’s chain
kept him tied
and on his side
of the fence.

I can hear news
within the confines of my residence,
as my mother sighed,
of ships being sunk at Pearl Harbor
and all the people who had died.
I sat in my mother’s clutches
listening to FDR speak of infamy
and speeches at his funeral
about what his death meant to the country,
tuned in also to words
of atomic bombs destroying Japanese countries,
and the resounding sounds
coming from our radio
of referees counting to ten,
standing over some poor soul
suffering from “lights out,”
the latest victim
at a Joe Louis fight,
and I could never forget
laying my head down at night
“Sleep tight,
don’t let the bed-bugs bite.”

In that tiny-spaced apartment
I heard precious sounds of life.
Sounds that served as a guide
to how I would live my life,
grabbing the world by the tail,
sometimes on the fly,
sometimes on my backside
on the downside,
but always trying, as much as possible,
whenever I can, to enjoy the ride.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Shirley Sprinkles August 31, 2022 at 4:33 pm

Rolling through my memory as if it was yesterday—poignant, personal, and beautiful. Thanks for the “hitch-hike” to home!


Dave B August 31, 2022 at 4:37 pm

Wow… Great memories…. I was experiencing the same about 8 locks north of you on tenth Ave and Plata… Near the ‘Miracle Mile’ row of bars and motels…
in an adobe house my dad built with the help of the local Yaqui Indians… : )
Thanks for the memories
THS ’56


BARBARA LEWIS August 31, 2022 at 8:01 pm

Beautiful Mr. McCray. I could hear what you heard, smell what you smelled and feel what you felt. Touched.


Patty Jones August 31, 2022 at 8:21 pm

Lovely, Ernie.


katie September 1, 2022 at 11:28 am

Thanks, Ernie. Something feels grounding in what you wrote.


Beverely September 4, 2022 at 6:25 am

You let me draw the most vivid picture in my mind of your experience. Thank you for making it yours and sharing it with us.


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: