Fences and Gates

Perry Piper remembers the fences and gates from Muddy Creek


| September 1999



Remembering gates

Remembering gates

Gates have been around for quite a spell, they have. Preacher Stubblefield used to tell us at Union Chapel about the Pearly Gates, and how old Samson used his God-given strength to push down the gate post in the temple and destroy a heap of non-believers, and I well remember a rip-roaring, fire-spitting evangelist that set up a tent at the Sumner Park and preached Hell Fire and Brimstone with accent on the Gates of Hell. Liked to have scared the daylights outta some of the listeners, too, he did. 

Course the gates that I had personal attachment to were those on the farm that Dad hung from good, sturdy hedge posts on iron hinges that he fashioned from an old narrow wagon wheel rim. Why, the gate he made to the old red barn swung on it, and not a smidgen of give was ever seen. Dad took great pride in his gates. He used to say that a sure gauge of a fanner was in the way he kept up his fences, and how he hung his gates.

In today's society, with all the accent on getting every acre either in cash crops or under some government program, fence rows with their hideaways for prairie chickens and bluebirds have become an endangered species. When you don't have fences, you sure don't need gates.

Then, too, those livestock raisers who are still battling the ecologists and fighting off the animal activists have pretty well gone to closed confinement, so the need for fences and gates has greatly diminished.

Now in the days of my growing up on Muddy Creek, the gate was a real part of our lives. The garden gate was praised in song and verse, and the lane with its gate closure was an intricate part of rural living.

The garden gate that I best recall was a unique one that Dad put together from the slats from the buckboard when it was retired in favor of the Model T pickup. It was a beautiful piece of workmanship. Those five-foot-long, inch-square hickory slats with a ski-like curve on one end were set on end with the curve uppermost. They were spaced three inches apart, and bolted to a scrap iron frame that was hung from hinges.