Back during the Depression when I was a kid, folks visited a lot, mostly because they had nothing else to do. Kinfolks were the worst about visiting.

My motherís brother and his crew lived up on the plains in a little town that was spelled with a ďQĒ which I canít spell anyhow. I think it was an Indian word which meant buffalo chips.

Anyway, in the fall after the cotton was picked you could count on them all showing up at our house for a week or so. My uncle had an old flat-bed Dodge truck equipped with sideboards to haul the kids and the mattresses where they all slept.

We didnít have much in the way of anything to eat at our house and they made a serious dent in that. We had to completely replace our chicken crop after they finally left to visit other kinfolks. We also consumed a lot of flour gravy which the chefs today call Bechamel sauce. I grew up eating a lot of that stuff and didnít know what it was.

The kids, all boys, the best I remember, having lived all of their lives on the plains were not familiar with trees. They climbed every tree on the place, leaving a trail of broken limbs everywhere. When they arrived, all of our livestock headed to the back of the pasture and stayed there. I thought about it myself.

Actually, they were good people caught up in the same circumstances that we were. The big difference was that we didnít have a Dodge truck to load up and go visit kinfolks. Besides, Dad didnít care much for Mamaís kinfolks, or anybody elseís. All he was interested in doing was taking his hounds and going wolf hunting.

Of course, Mama didnít think it was polite to leave company at home and go wolf hunting. It seemed like a good idea to me in view of the circumstances but neither of us went anywhere until the kinfolks left.

Finally, after no more than two weeks, they loaded up the Dodge truck and went to visit one of my motherís sisters who lived about 15 miles away. The last time we visited there, they had even less to eat than we did which included a lot of the Bechamel sauce. Like us, when unexpected company came, about all we could do was stir up another skillet of Bechamel and slice a big onion.

They lived in a tenant house located in the middle of a cotton patch. There wasnít a tree on the place for the cousins to climb. They had no livestock to chase either and my uncle had no hound dogs affording him a chance to leave the premises. He was stuck there eating gravy that neither one of us knew the name of.

Life, as we all know can be cruel and most of the time is.

As fall turned into winter and the nights too cold to sleep in the Dodge, they loaded up the kids and went back to the plains for another year.

Spring arrived, the limbs grew back on our trees, the cows came back home and Dad and his hounds were free to run again. But as fall arrived, and the cotton was all picked, we knew beyond a doubt that the kinfolks were coming from what they called the Plains and that funny-named town that started with a ďQĒ and we were about to eat a lot of Bechamel sauce again.

I guess it wasnít too bad and I still like it.

Harry Marlinís column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletinís Viewpoint page. E-mail him at