The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Night Time Games…
In the late Spring and Summer of the 1930s and 40s, people sat out on the streets of town and visited at night. There might be one or two stores still open but even after they had all closed people would sit outside and visit in the cool of the night. The children would run up and down the street and around the stores playing.
As a bunch of us boys got a little older we would go up town after the older folks went home and play a game called Booger. One of us would be the booger and the others would go hide. We’d crawl up under some of those old stores to hide. You couldn’t give me any kind of money to crawl under one now with all the snakes and spiders. Of course, I wasn’t thinking about that back in those days.
We would even get on top of the buildings. It was a wonder we hadn’t fallen and broken our legs or broken our necks. We had some great times, though.
One time I was the Booger. It was a moonlight night and you could see pretty good. Most of the boys were fast runners and if they were forty feet or so ahead of you, you would never catch them. I had a plan. I had discovered that if I eased around the backs of the stores and watched, I’d catch movements. I wouldn’t let on that I had seen the movements. I would wait until I could get a building between me and that person and I’d get a good running start and just be out on them before they could start to run. It gave me an advantage.
On this particular night, I was walking behind the stores and sure enough in a minute I saw some movement. The movement was down between Mr. Maurice Saltzman’s store and where the old post office used to be before they built the library.
I waited until they got almost to that alley, headed up towards the main street in front of the stores. I had gotten behind Mr. Maurice’s building and I had gotten a running start.
Here I came around that building and up in that alley and it was two of them. I grabbed one of them and yelled, “I gotcha!”
The next thing I knew, Mr. Ed Chambers had me by my shirt collar and my toes were barely touching the ground. He had an opened pocket knife in his hand and was asking, “What’s the matter, Son? What’s the matter? What had happened was he and Mrs. Chambers were walking to town, one following behind the other. I thought it was two of the boys I was playing with but I had grabbed Mr. Chambers. It was just a wonder that Mr. Chambers didn’t cut me with that knife.
|Edmon and Lottie Chambers|
That broke me from ever running out of the dark and grabbing somebody!
The only time I ever stole any watermelons was down at the Peck place near the old Gillis place. There was a ½ acre watermelon match out from the Gillis house. This was the second Gillis house. It was built on the same spot as the first house after it burned in the early 1930s.
A bunch of us teenage boys slipped down there one night. I don’t remember how we knew there was a watermelon patch there. My cousin, John Fairbanks [son of Dr. Russell Fairbanks], Watson Higgins [son of Watson Walter Higgins] and Huey Boles were part of the group. We were going to go swimming down at a place we called the Sand Bar that was right in behind the Gillis house. We were also going to steal some watermelons while we were down there. And we did.
As well as I remember, we swam a while under a moonlight night. We came out of the water and went to the watermelon patch. We each picked out the largest watermelons we could find and took them out into the pasture between the patch and the swimming hole. After dropping them on the ground and breaking the watermelons open, we starting eating the hearts out of each one of them.
About halfway through eating, somebody started telling a story about how some watermelon growers would poison a watermelon or two and mark them so no one in his family would eat them and get sick. It was the planter’s way of catching watermelon thieves.
Well, it wasn’t long into the conversation when Watson Higgins started throwing up. I’m not sure whether he just got sick thinking about the poison or if his watermelon actually had something in it. We all waited around for about thirty minutes to see if anybody else was going to get sick. No one else did but that was my first and last time to steal watermelons.
Note: Parts 1-44 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.