Goldie Ricks an oddity in Southampton

Published 9:49 am Saturday, January 21, 2012

by James D. ‘Archie’ Howell

Goldie Ricks owns a farm a little over a mile from our house. It’s on the south side of Shady Brook.

You turn left onto a dirt path at the far corner of Stith’s store just past the Shady Brook entrance, and about a quarter-mile further, you arrive at the Ricks’ farmhouse and the always present assortment of farm buildings.

My seat in the back of the truck takes me there a few times.

It’s a modest house, unadorned, as are most houses in the farming community. The house has panels of some sort placed along its bottom edge to help keep out the cold of winter. The panels are the original color of whatever they were a part of in their other life.

Insulation is not yet popular, or affordable in the community. Newspaper is sometimes substituted.

Whatever our mission, it’s not going to take a lot of time and I stay in the truck while my father conducts the business of the visit and we leave, retrace the dirt path to Shady Brook, turn right onto the paved road to our house. It’s the same each time we visit.

Goldie Ricks is something of a puzzle to me. For starters, most people are referred to with a first, or a last name with a prefix. Sometimes the reference is more colorful. Goldie Ricks is always called Goldie Ricks.

My father and Goldie Ricks have a relationship. Many evenings, headlights turn in at our house and someone gets up and goes to see who it is.

On occasion, the report to my father is, “It’s Goldie Ricks,” whereupon my father lays aside his paper, gets out of his chair and heads for the back porch steps and driveway. The two have an extended conversation, sometimes for an hour or more.

I am never privy to the conversations, but there is laughter and easy flowing words.

Sometimes, the next day or so, someone shows up with a tractor and awhile later, with a piece of farm equipment in tow, drives off down the road toward Goldie Rick’s place. Some days later, the process is reversed.

Goldie Ricks is something of an oddity in Southampton County. Not odd in the deprecating sense or something to be disdained, but odd in the sense of rarity. Goldie Ricks is a black farmer. Black farmers are rare in Southampton County. I’m sure there are others, but Goldie Ricks is the only one I know.

I think my father was a richer man for his relationship with Goldie Ricks. I think I’m poorer for not knowing exactly what the relationship was.

 JAMES D. “ARCHIE” HOWELL is a Southampton County native and 1955 graduate of Franklin High School. He can be reached at