Some things we did back then . . .
WE RODE yellow school buses and stopped in covered bridges and hugged girls. To a 14-year-old with the zits, it was better than home-made ice cream and cold watermelon. The girls giggled and fluffed their hair when the driver headed for the light at the end of the tunnel. We 14-year-olds with the zits settled back and waited for the next covered bridge.
-- We played roley-holey, Annie Over, dodge ball, ring-around-the-roses, and cowboys ‘n Indians. We were politically incorrect before we could drive a car, date, or vote.
-- In the years of the zits, we were law breakers on those Friday nights when someone could borrow a car from Dad or Grandpa or an uncle and we drove dirt roads to The Ark at Riverside and bought beer years before we could “get high” legally. The man at TheArk got $5 for a case of cold beer, $3 for a case of hot. We drank a lot of hot beer.
WE “PUT the metal to the pedal” out on U. S 431 from the top of the hill at Melrose to the top of the hill at Saxon’s Candy Kitchen. It was two lanes but straight as an arrow. I was pretty much the “King of The Road” in an uncle’s blue Dodge . . . 110 on the speedometer and it would peg. We lived because God was looking after us.
-- We went “skinny dipping” in the creek that ran through Will Bryant’s pasture. We “parked” in the moonlight on the creek bank in Will Bryant’s pasture. We ran bank hooks at night in the creek that ran through Will Bryant’s pasture. We learned how to “abandon ship” in a hurry when a cottonmouth would fall from an overhanging limb.
-- We plowed mules and learned to cuss. We plowed John Deere tractors and learned to chew tobacco. We learned what being “sick at the stomach” was all about.
WE ATE GREEN apples, ripe plums, and muscadines. We kept a peeled sweet potato in our overall pocket. When it turned green, it was ready to eat, honest.
-- We learned to shoot pool on a back table at The Smokehouse as a 14-year-old with the zits. We ate The Smokehouse chili and, on occasion, a bowl of the butterbeans.
-- We ate 10-cent baloney sandwiches at Doc’s Café, listened to Hank Williams on the jukebox, and wallowed in unrequited love.
-- We went to J. D.’s picture show on Friday night and a girl who had held our hand the previous Friday night was sitting down front with a senior who had his own car . . . unrequited love and Ol’ Hank would get an encore just as soon as the picture show was over.
-- We went to the Cameo in Anniston to watch a cowboy picture show. If we had another 11 cents we went on to The Noble for another cowboy picture show.
WE STOLE watermelons from Mr. Moore’s watermelon patch until one day, in passing, he waved and said “How many of my watermelons did you boys get this morning?” Mr. Moore knew we were outlaws before our mothers did.
-- We drank cold water from a road side spring. Mr. Simpson, who lived near the spring, kept a tin dipper on a hook and everybody drank from it. Never got sick, either.
-- We laughed a lot, but we never cried. That was for sissies and girls and we were MEN!
-- We thinned cotton beneath a hot August sun, watched rich folks drive by in big, black Buicks, and wished the sun would go down so we could get to the house and dream of one day having a big, black Buick of our own.
-- These are just some of the things we did back then, but space is short. And I’ve just been reminded that this is a family newspaper in a small town and we really do need to shut up or hire a lawyer for Divorce Court.
George Smith can be reached at 256-239-5286 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org