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Randy and I headed out Monday to Cindy’s house for a bartering session (more on that tomorrow). Since he knows the backroads a little better than I do, I handed the phone to him to get directions. When he finished, I asked him if it was easy to find, and he said ‘yes’. Just so you know, here is a partial of the directions:

“You gonna go to Taylortown?”

“No. I’m gonna go over the big bridge.”

“Oh. Okay. Go down to Dick Johnson’s, and hang a right. Go on down to the four corners, and take a left.”

For those of you who don’t know, Taylortown is really not much more than an old store and the remains of an old church bell tower now. It was once a small town/stopgap,  but not anymore. The big bridge? As opposed to the smaller ones we have around here, the big bridge is known as the one that crossed Lake Bisteneau. Four corners is a four-way stop. And Heaven help y’all if you are going to turn right at Dick Johnson’s, and don’t know who that is. Actually, I don’t either, and in reality, they weren’t talking about a person, but a place. ‘Dick Johnson’s’ is the common reference to an old General Store that sits at the intersection of 157 & 154. Even if you look closely, you still couldn’t see any reference to Mr. Johnson as the sign has long since disappeared, but folks around here know exactly where you are talking about.

I can’t help but laugh sometimes. When I lived in the city, your main streets were Youree Drive, Mansfield Road, Hearne Avenue, and 70th Street. Most people familiar with Shreveport could get anywhere else in the city if that was one of the roads you had to take. Out here in the country, road names don’t mean a whole lot. It took me quite a while to figure out where the old timers were headed when they would say there was a huge deer on the side of 7. Come to find out, Hwy. 371 was Hwy. 7 years and years ago, but even though the State changed the name, it is and will always be 7 to those who grew up around here.

We do have a few roads that are named, but in most cases, they are named after someone who once lived down that dirt road. Bill Smith actually died somewhere around 1898, but there is still a road named after him. Still, the old timers will give you directions that include “go on past old Ratchett Hound’s place; make that curve by Jack’s old deer stand, and it’s down yonder on the right.” Be forewarned. Ratchett Hound was Bill Smith’s nickname. That deer stand? Rotted down years ago, but there’s still a piece of wood nailed to the tree, which means that, to the old folks, it is still there. And down yonder? It could be anywhere from ¼ mile to five miles. But where ever you are going will definitely be there. If you took the right fork in the road that the old timer failed to mention. (“Why would I tell you that? It’s where that crazy ol’ coot Dooley lived. No one in there right mind ever goes down thataway!”)

On our journey to Cindy’s, Randy got most of the directions right the first time. He told me he was looking for ‘Smallwood’, as we passed Silverwood. But the way we were headed must be right because she said it would turn into a pot-holed dirt road. Just watch for the deer stand. We drove down that dirt road for a couple of miles before it turned back into 154, which was right by the four corners, only we were approaching it from the opposite direction we just came. Yep. We got to lick that calf again.

As we made our first turn (the one we knew was correct), I picked up the directions. “Um, Randy?” And I proceeded to tell him how to get there. The right way. And it involved turning down Silverwood. Yep. There’s the deer stand. Yep. It turned into a pot-holed dirt road.

I guess the city girl is finally being weaned out of me, because I can now quickly translate the location of “the old tree that got hit by lightnin’ back in the 40’s, down the road from Cal Hoover’s old place.” Old Cal died about two years before Bill Smith, but I know exactly where they mean. If I get any better, I’ll have almost gotten to the point where Old Bill and Cal will be getting a place set at the table at Christmas. At least I won’t get lost if I ask those two for directions.

The barter? Was it worth all the trouble? Stay tuned tomorrow to read more on the Art of Bartering!