July 20, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 50

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
This is October 26, 1991 on a Saturday morning.  It is sort of muggy outside this morning.  I wonder what I would be doing on a Saturday morning in October back in 1938 or 1939 or 1940.  
The Juneau boys, Vernon Whitlock and some other boys and I would be going out across the bayou to the field on the edge of the woods and swamps with our BB guns and slingshots.  We would go bird hunting.  We never did kill much of anything.  Maybe a bird now and then. 
Courtesy of Bayou Momma Photography
We always took some matches so we could build a fire down in one of the gullies where the wind wouldn’t hit us.  If it started raining, all the better.  We’d get up under some of the bushes and try to keep our fire burning.  We loved camping out.  If we had a couple of nickels, we’d buy a can of oil wieners, some sweet pickles, soda crackers, a can of pork and beans, a cold drink or a cake.  
We could buy all of that for less than fifty cents.  That was a feast for four or five boys.  It wasn’t very often that we had that much money between us.  Times were very hard back then but they were wonderful times.
We did a lot of exploring while we were out in the fields and meadows.  We learned how to identify the different birds and trees and bushes in the area.  With the Peck Plantation nearby, we learned all about farm animals.  We’d see horses, cows and calves, hogs and little pigs, jacks and old mules.  No one taught us about the birds and animals.  We discovered them and learned about them ourselves.  
Courtesy of Bayou Momma Photography
We probably went places no one else had ever been except other boys.  I have no doubt in my mind that I have been to places around here that others haven’t been.  I know almost every square foot of this little village. 
Some Saturdays I’d be over at Howard Smith’s Greasy Spoon beside the cotton gin.  Wagons would be lined up and the gin would be running full out.  As I mentioned in earlier tapes, I helped Howard at the Greasy Spoon.  He’d fix a tray full of cups of coffee and I’d take them over to the gin and sell the coffee to the workers.  I’d stay at the Greasy Spoon all day.  That would have been around 1936 or 1937.  I was about eight, nine or ten years old.
It was along back in those days when they came out with a candy bar called a Powerhouse.  Oh boy, those Powerhouse candy bars were good!  Before that we had Hershey Bars, Milky Ways, Baby Ruths, Tootsie Rolls, Silver Bells and some kind of orange drops coated with sugar. 
I’ve mentioned Stage Planks several times on these tapes.  Stage Planks were some kind of gingerbread with icing on them.  There were two in a pack.  One piece would have white icing and the other piece would have pink icing. 
Each piece was about eight or nine inches long and about three or four inches wide.  A package of Stage Planks cost us a nickel. 
Sometimes the boys and girls would get together and have wiener roasts.  We’d come up with a nickel or a dime a piece and go buy a package of wieners and a loaf of bread.  About first dark, we’d go to somebody’s house and build a fire.  The girls would be off on one side and the boys on another side.  We all wanted to get together but most of the time we were all too timid or bashful. 
About 1941, 42, 43 we got up to be teenagers and we had dances.  We’d get someone to be the chaperon and we’d get an old record player.  They’d let us use the gym at the school for our dances.  And just like the wiener roasts, the girls sat on one side of the dance floor and the boys sat on the other side.  Some of the girls would dance with one another.  
Every once in a while a real brave lad would dance with a girl.  I wasn’t one of those.  All the guys, including myself liked the girls but most of us were just too shy to ask one of them to dance.  Oh, we looked forward to the dances and I guess we had plans to dance with the girls.  But we didn’t. 
After I got up around eleven or twelve years old I didn’t spend much time around the girls.  I was too busy hanging out with the boys roaming the fields and the meadows and slipping down to the bayous. 
Courtesy of Bayou Momma Photography
We spent time at the cotton gin playing in the cotton on the big platforms.  We would position the bales to the side and make tunnels all down in and through the cotton.  In the Fall, we’d go pick persimmons and in the Spring we’d pick dew berries. 
Dorothy Mae Benge, John Fairbanks and Cleo Foster were part of our little group that held wiener roasts and dances.  They’re now gone.  Gone on before the rest of us.

Note:  Parts 1-49 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of this blog.

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