I visited my family’s farm while in North Carolina earlier this summer. It’s always emotionally difficult to go back – I have so many good memories of playing with my siblings and exploring, but so many bad memories involving religion and painfully insane relatives. I’m irritable and restless the entire time I’m there. To try to calm myself while I was there, I took a lot of long walks, taking pictures of decaying farm equipment and interesting old buildings scattered across the farm, and hanging on to the good memories.
One of the places my siblings and I loved was an old tobacco barn. Once the door is closed, the inside seems magical (at least to an 8 year old me). It’s cool inside, and dim. The comforting smell of curing tobacco still lingers. The light filters through a thousand tiny holes and cracks, illuminating the dust that’s forever suspended in the air. A staggered series of beams stretches from about head height to the ceiling (these were used to hang the tobacco). We’d climb and scramble through the beams playing all sorts of games.
There’s an inscription scored into the side of the barn that we’ve never been able to interpret. We think “H.T.R.” are the initials of whoever built the barn or owned the land at that time and that “Febery” is a just phonetic spelling of how everyone in this part of N.C. says February. But the number sequence “91.33.23” is a mystery. I’ve always wondered if it had something to do with the tobacco allotment. Any ideas?