Second grade was even better than first. I was no longer a little kid. Second grade just sounded more mature. Mrs. Miller was my choice as a teacher. She often sent me outside because I talked too much in class. She also understood my ability to move around town and often sent me on trips to the high school to pick up and deliver things for her. That would never work today.
Mrs. Miller knew Garvis and that gave me an advantage. I was always looking for an advantage. ChuckYeager, a test pilot for the U.S. Air Force, set a speed record in a rocket plane. My brother owns the record for four mile curve on the south side of town. He earned that record in his ‘49 Ford. I think his hood flew off but he kept her on the road! Glory isn’t gained without difficulty.
Garvis would let me drive his car on the back roads of Ashley county. One of those roads was where the “Dirt Dobber” lived. This man had made his house out of mud, you know, like the insect, a dirt dobber! I recall the first time my cousins showed me his house. I just imagined this person liv- ing inside with a set of wings and six legs. He may have looked like that for all I know because I do not remember ever seeing him. That mud house stood for years. I guess the Dirt Dobber finally died and the house eventually was knocked down. It doesn’t stand today and I have trouble identifying the the exact location where it stood.
Most all the roads in Ashley County were back roads. As I set on my lofty perch, my big brothers lap, no obstacle was to great for me. The game warden, Mr. Bird, was one of the conquests of this young driver. My brother took great delight in telling others about the day I passed Mr. Bird. It’s no wonder that I turned out to be the driver I am. It took five years but my brother finally helped me catch that bird. Remember, the moment you commit to a goal, achievement is assured.
I had been trying to save money for a bicycle. The thirty dollars it would take was almost impossible to save. I swept the sidewalk in front of the beauty shop and barber ship, raked yards almost anything to make a dime. I decided that my best chance of getting that bike was for Santa Clause to bring it to me for Christmas. I wrote a letter to Santa and evidently it made it to the local newspaper.
When I woke up Christmas morning and saw that bicycle I knew without a doubt that there really was a Santa Clause. Bill Law spoke to mother before Christmas and told her to get that bicycle for me. She told him that she just couldn’t afford it. His response was, “Take as long as nec- essary to pay it off.” He wanted me to have that bicycle and would have given it to me on his own but knew that mother would never agree to that. Mother finally agreed to payments and Mr. Law deliverd that bike to the house after I had gone to sleep. This second grader could just barely reach the peddles. That bike and I grew up together. I road it until it couldn’t go any more.
Grandma Walker came to stay with each of her four daughters for about two weeks each after Grandpa Walker died. What a special person she was. Grandpa told her that she would join him in about two years. The timing turned out to be very close.
My responsibility was to return home after school and stay with her. Like she really needed me! As I think about it now I know that it was just to prevent loneliness. I had a baby bed that I slept in, until my feet were hanging well outside the rails, and mother slept with grandmother in the larger bed. I had lots of questions for grandma and she had lots of answers. She never judged me for all the confessions I made and always had a story for me when I asked. Grandma stayed a short time with each daughter and rotated with each of their families over the next two years.
Over the last two years I had developed a friendship with Tommy Evans. We did lots of things together. His mother was sure that I would never amount to anything so there was never any spending the night or things like that. Forget and smile, don’t remember and be sad.
Mrs. Evans was the first woman that I had ever seen that smoked cigarettes. This was the year that cigarette smoking was clearly linked to lung cancer. (Sally Evans died from cancer, that went to her brain, the third week in September 1999. She had been sick for a long time.)
We rode our bicycles all over that town. Well, I did more riding than Tommy because his parents didn’t want him out of their sight. Tommy and his brother Jim often told me that I was lucky because I didn’t have a father to tell me what to do. (Jim died from a drug overdose that he took the day that he learned of his mother’s death. He lingered in the hospital until the 23 of September before death came to take him.) Maybe I didn’t get into a lot of trouble because I was responsible for me and that was pressure enough. Mother always said, “Just promise me that you will be a good boy”. I was as good as I could be for the most part.
War time research had helped develop our science and technology. The structure of DNA was determined by Francis Crick and James Watson. New industries had brought us plastics, electronics, and television.
Tommy had a new television. I saw Howdy Doody in 1948 for the first time at his house. Black and white was the thing, color was several years away from my home town. As far as I knew Tommy’s family was the first to have a TV set in Hamburg.
Mother allowed me to make occasional visits to the Noble’s for my favorite television show, I Love Lucy. It was on the air in 1951. As a youngster the Noble’s welcomed me into their home. My instructions were to accept no invitation to supper. Man, my mother could be cruel sometimes. I always graciously declined their invitation but they often brought me a piece of home made pie just the same. It was always fun when their grand children came to visit in the summer. I remember one of their grand daughters having long black hair. I believe her name was Taresia. Some years later her family move to Hamburg and she got her hair cut. What a mistake!