The principal mode of transportation was our own two feet. We walked everywhere until, of course, I received my bike. When Mother and I would walk home from church on Sunday night, I would play a game with her that I called Trust. I would close my eyes and hold her hand. It was her assignment to get me home without letting me fall down the steps or tripping in a hole.
When we got home she would always ask me what I wanted for supper. It was a treat to have warm corn bread and butter- milk. It was Mother’s favorite also. There were times when we would substitute the buttermilk for turnip greens. Life really was uncomplicated.
Miriam was a senior in high school and I was in kindergarten. Mrs. Vera Mae Nolley Barham was my first teacher and friend. In reality, it probably wasn’t an actual certified kindergarten, but it was the closest thing we had to it. Miriam would get me at noon and we would eat in the high school cafeteria. I think my sister was very popular and a very good student. Mother was very proud of her. You have to give your approval for someone to make you feel inferior.
There were two hotels in town. One was named The Elite. John Spivy has his office on that corner now. The other hotel was named The Eureka. Jack Carpenter opened his Furniture Supply store in that building. I became friends with a blind man that lived in the hotel across the street from mother’s beauty shop.
I do not remember the blind man’s name but I do remember how he would take his glass eyes out and show them to me. I tried with little success to take my eyes out the same way. He told me that he had lost his sight when the explosives he was using to blow fish out of water went off in his face.
That year I was the groom in a Tom Thumb wedding and Emily Kay Wells was the bride. Miriam and Emily Kay’s sister were good friends in high school. I made friends wherever I went in Hamburg. Good friends are hard to find, hard to leave, but never forgotten.
The adult business men would come by the beauty shop where mother worked and take me to coffee break. Bill Law and Billy Veazey were two of my special coffee break friends. It was a great place to grow up. Their encouragement is a gift that keeps on giving.
Billy Veazey had a grocery store on the northern corner of the same block that mother’s beauty shop was located. His morning break would begin with him and Bill Law picking me up at mother’s shop and taking me to Golden’s cafe for coffee. I didn’t think much about two grown men taking that much interest in me because I was sure that I was great company for them. Charles Spencer later purchased that store from Mr. Veazey. End of coffee breaks!
The Veazey family has a special place in my heart. Ann, Billy’s wife, was one of my Sunday School directors in junior high. Ann had a son, Bob Hall, by an earlier marriage. He delivered groceries for his step father. He used this big bicycle with an extremely large basket on the front for the deliveries.
Mr. Veazey told him not to let me ride with him when he delivered groceries because he thought it wasn’t safe. Bob took me anyway. I was told never to let his dad know that he was taking me. Bob was an important part of my community experience. What a person says can be forgotten, the things the did will pass away, but how they made you feel will linger forever.
The Presidency has been limited to two terms according the passage of the 22nd Amendment by Congress.
Dr. Barnes, one of three physician that I knew in Hamburg (White, Cammack, and Barnes), stepped out of his office as I was running by. He knew me well because he had been giving me shots in the butt for years.
Every time I had a cold mother would send me to Dr. Barnes and he would say, “lay down here and pull your pants down.” That was when he would pull out that long needle and insert it into the container of Penicillin that he got out of the, I called it an ice box, but it really was a refrigerator.
Then when I would ask him the question that I knew he would lie about, “Dr. Barns, is this going to hurt?” he would say, “it is only going to sting a little.”
But on this particular day, Dr. Barnes had something to ask me. As it turned out he had a rabbit that he wanted to give me, if mother would allow it. I said there would be no problem but he insisted that I go and ask and if it was alright then I could come to his house later an pick up my new friend.
For some reason mother allowed me to accept that rabbit. It was a Dutch breed that was black with white chest and blazed face, we became fast friends. Uncle Robert made Peter a cage. People that I didn’t know would come to town and ask if I was the kid that had the rabbit that followed me on a leash? They always wanted to see my black and white rabbit. Imagination is not limited, knowledge is.
Dad Chapman was the barber next door to mother’s shop and he had the most beautiful wife. Mr. Chapman was many years older than her but there was no doubt in my mind that they were made for each other. I often went to their house for lunch. She taught me many things about politeness and correct use of my spoon, fork, and napkin.
When Dad Chapman died it was very sad. I was allowed to visit him in his home while he was sick. I am thankful for him and his family. They say to touch another is saying you care and trust them.
When his family moved away Maxie Ann Wilcoxin moved in. Her parents had divorced and Maxie and her mother moved into the Chapman house. A Chevy dealership was located there several years later. Maxie Ann was tall and had long pig tails. She could hold her own with anyone and we treated her with the respect that was due.
CBS transmitted the first color broadcast on the newly introduced color television. I am glad that I wasn’t aware that any of this was going on. It was often so hot that mother and I would make a pallet and sleep on the screened in front porch. We had a radio, don’t know where it came from, that I often listen to as we tried to beat the heat.
As I lay there in the dark I would look into that radio and imagine that the voices I heard were people inside that plastic box. There was even a light that showed me which tube their bodies were living in. Amos and Andy was a favorite of mine. They taught us that a sense of humor is something that one can’t afford to lose. What ever happened to Kingfish? Life was so uncomplicated.