Memories and Pretty Things

Memories and Pretty Things

Eye level from the second floor window
A red cardinal sits in a green hemlock tree
The fur of a squirrel
The shell of a box turtle called “tarpon”
A ring neck snake
Henry Davis Long
Marveling at a curled up millipede
Yelling for me
Come look, what is it Boppy?
Elizabeth Marie pointing
What is that, what is that and that?
Henry and Hadley chasing and laughing
Where is your belly button?
And the itsy bitsy spider a lesson in perseverance
There is your nose
The awe of a little one for one just a little older
Patrick hocking and spitting just like Papaw
Henry hocking and spitting just like Boppy
Grandma Barker’s kind smile
My dad’s pride in me and his love for all his children and grandchildren
Memories of Luke when he was little repeating everything I said and did
Wondering how the hush puppies swam
And claiming that duty homers lived in holes like foxes and ate mealsmalls and rooters
Chasing Bess and nuzzling her jaw
Her delightful laughter
Thumping around Charleston with Jason and seeing the world from the perspective of two feet tall.
The surprise on Elizabeth’s face when I pulled her blackened tooth and the smile that returned to her face
Jeff running a seventy yard touchdown in the first home game
Luke scoring six touchdowns in the Hamlin game
With ten family members witnessing and dancing a ring around him after the game
Henry looking at the creek through a hole in the bridge asphalt

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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