A Myth In A Garden

The following is the text of Mr. Lytle's speech at the 1986 Ingersoll Prizes Awards Banquet:

Born the day after Christmas, 1902, like a wet firecracker, as my mother remarked, I entered a world that lived with and by other creatures. My grandchildren and their ilk are unaware that they are creatures. I am closer to the 12th century than to their world, for that world has money, not salvation, as its ultimate desire. College graduates study jobs to get, not occupations to risk.

As I grew up in Murfreesboro, the town easily joined the country. There were horses to hitch up, cows to milk (and that twice a day), often gardens to make. In town and country both, communities had the same kind of family life, with kin and connections, the connections by marriage, not blood. Because of this, people of the same station had the same social life and, frequently, the same marriages. Farming had not lost then its prestige as a way of life, and you could live well by it.

My mother was a town girl. My father lived 10 miles in the country, but he kept fast horses. He would dance all night and drive the 10 miles, throw a blanket over Lunette's back (she was a Hambletonian), and go straight to the fields. I spent my childhood mostly in town. Coming home at the end of the day, tired from play, I could smell roasting coffee beans down the long street to my grandmother Nelson's house, where we lived for a time....

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