Mama was a lover of the call of the whippoorwill. In one of her poems she wrote, "When life’s sun is sinking low, And it is my time to go, I hope it happens in a spring, When I have heard the whippoorwill sing." She received her wish. One time she called me and said, "I want to have a whippoorwill party at Bell Park." So we did. She had invited several people she thought loved the sound. We even had guest from Fort Smith. Each brought their own chair. I fixed refreshments so it was a "Real Party." Just as I was beginning to think the birds were not going to accommodate us we heard them calling to each other across the valley. Mama Niece Debbie (Rogers) Cooper and her husband Rick have build a beautiful home off 59 highway north of Cedarville. I have longed to go see so one day her Mom and Dad (Jane and J.M. Rogers) and her sister Barbara let Bob, Connie and me follow them to Debbie’s house. It was a good thing we got to follow some one who knew where they were going as we would have never found it.
I love her house and the location. They are not isolated as there are other houses yet they are not crowded. I asked Debbie if she heard any whippoorwills. Her reply that in the evening she could hear a call from another direction until they were coming from all directions as if they were talking to one another. I am anxious for her to have a whippoorwill party. I will even bring the refreshments.
When the late Kermit McNabb was alive I would drive him down the old Chismville Road late in the evening to listen to the whippoorwills. A lot of people can’t understand our fascination with the ugly little birds.
If you are out looking for pretty birds you would never look for one of them. They are from the Goatsucker family which are nocturnal insect eaters. With large flat heads, small bills, enormous mouths with eyes that are mere slits by day, huge and round at night. Although the night hawk is from the same family they do not have a call and fly above the tree tops while the whippoorwill will be found nearer the ground. One can hear three distinct calls such a Chuck-will’s- widow, Whip-poor-will and Poor-will. If you are driving down a country road late in the evening and see bright red eyes on the side of the road that, my friend, just might be a whippoorwill.
For me hearing one brings back Happy Memories of growing up with Mama. The late H.B. Stewart told me that he, too, love to hear them. He liked to sit out in his yard late in the evening so he could hear them. He called me one evening and asked, "Guess what I just heard?" Jane usually calls and tells me the same thing. As I said before I am looking forward to an evening trip up 59 highway to visit the Coopers again.