Sunday, January 27, 2008
In the summer when I was fifteen we would have ice delivered to our house. We had a big ice box that would hold a three hundred pound block of ice but we could not afford that much ice. One time before the ice men came to make their delivery, we made some ice cream with the ice left over from the week before. Just as we were opening the two-gallon White Mountain ice cream freezer filled with vanilla ice cream, the ice truck arrived and backed up to our back porch. It was a hot day so we gave the two men all the ice cream that they could eat. The men liked it so much they said that if we would do that every week that they would give us a three hundred pound block. We had a real deal for getting a three dollar block of ice for a few bowls of ice cream. All we had to do was make a freezer of ice cream on the day at the time they normally arrived to our place. The cow gave us milk, chickens the eggs, and the fruit and berries were picked in the woods; all we had to buy was the sugar and flavoring. I believed that those ice men did not know that we thought they were getting cheated.
The brothers that were not in service at this time were having a hard time making ends meet, they had already started having children of their own but the wages had not increased as much as their needs. George was unable to sign up for the Armed Forces due to his health. When he was three years old, one of the mules had got out of the pasture and was eating in the turnip patch. George decided that he was going to pull him out by the tail and the mule kicked him in the head which caused him to have seizures. He was classified as Four F and was not permitted to sign up.
George was able to make it on his own. He was a good horse trader, one time Henry Carter had an old mule that was so old and skinny that he gave his son-in-law George five dollars to take it off into the woods to kill and bury it. He took the old mule but he didn’t kill it. Instead, he fed the old mule a big mess of dried peas and gave it a lot of water. The old mule swelled up and really looked good! He took it up to Beavers Store and sold it for fifty dollars worth of $1 raffle tickets. In about three days that old mule died. The fellow that won the mule felt like he got cheated so George gave him his dollar back and everyone was happy. He made 54 dollars on the scheme; from that point on, it was obvious to me that George could take care of himself. Listen as I share this story.
When I was sixteen years old, Archie Crouch, owner of Crouches Tavern on US-64 about three miles east of Statesville, took me to Cherry Grove Beach SC. I helped him work on some cabins that he was building. We worked almost full time the entire week. He fed me that week but when we went home he only gave me a dollar and thanked me for helping him that week. To this day I have no doubt in my mind that I got the short end of that stick on that deal! This was the first time that I had ever seen an ocean so I kept telling myself that it was worth it so I would not feel so bad about what happened. That same summer Mr. Crouch needed someone to dig a hole in the ground for a septic tank for his tavern. He said that if we took on the job, when we were finished he would give us ten dollars each. We spent about a week digging that hole but when it was complete, he tried to only pay us ten dollars. Mark and I told him that if he did not give us ten dollars each, we would fill the hole back up with dirt; he hesitated but finally ended up giving us each ten dollars. That was the last time we did anything for him. We told everyone in the county what he did so I am sure that a lot of people quit trading with him. Later, when Mr. Crouch was getting old, he had to sell his store. My brother George bought it; he and his wife Beatrice started running it. George was a clever business man and knew how to get the best deals from everyone so he ran the store until it got so run down and in such ill repair that he had to build a new store across the highway. He renamed the establishment Gurley's Tavern. He ran it until one night someone broke in his house and shot and killed him. Listen as I tell about this experience.
The following summer, Mother wanted Mark and me to plant a pea patch down in the field on the other side of the woods. We plowed the ground, got the field ready to plant, had all the rows laid off, and finally we were ready to plant the peas by hand. Mark was to put the fertilizer in and I was to drop the peas in about four inches apart. We did really well for about one third of the planting and then Mark came up with the idea that if we put a lot of fertilizer in the next section, we would run out of it and then we both could drop the peas so we would have time to play in the woods before going home. We worked that plan and it seemed to work until the peas began to come up. The first few rows look good the second rows looked extra good but the last rows did not look good at all! Mother knew what we did and told us that when we grew up we would know better than do anything like that again.
The fall after Mark joined the Navy, all of the grocery stores were looking for turnips but nobody had any to sell. This planted an idea that would be a winning venture for me the next year. I planted about an acre of turnips. When they were mature and it was time to gather them, I pulled them up, washed them, tied into a bundle of four or five, and loaded the old Ford so full that I could hardly get it to drive. I went to every store in Statesville and did not sell one bunch! On the way home I saw a man on the side of the road and he bought one bunch for twenty-five cents. I took the rest of them home and fed them to the hogs and cow. This is the time I discovered that I was not very smart but intelligent enough to know not to plant any more. I remember that it was the last time I planted turnips until after I was married. Listen as I tell this story.
When I was fourteen years old, New Hope Baptist Church had a fall revival and the Rev. King was the visiting preacher. Dorothy Hendrix, a lady that lived on the farm next to us, would take us to church in her 1939 Chevrolet. She took me to the revival. On the third night I accepted Christ into my life. There was not much of a change as I could see. I knew what Mother had been teaching me was real and it was proven to me over and over and I knew for sure because of the times that God looked after me. All through high school, the Navy, and throughout my life, I cannot count the times He was there for me when I could not do things on my own. After joining the church I went to Sunday school as much as I could and my friends and I would go to other churches when they had revivals.
One time Mark and I were going to church one Sunday morning. As we were going down the road, a bumblebee stung our old mule, Bill. He started running away and we could not stop him until we went across the creek. The buggy wheel got caught in the bridge railing and almost tore up the buggy. After a major ordeal in patching up the buggy, we finally got Bill back home. We never tried to go to church in that buggy again. Listen as I tell this story. I rode Bill to see Martha Swan a few times on some Sunday afternoons. We would sit on the front porch and talk. I never did get the nerve to kiss her; I guess she wondered if I ever would. It was not too long before she found someone that she liked better than me or maybe he would kiss her, I don't know.