“Days Gone Bye”: Yes, we were young
I have a ceramic mold of an old Englishman’s head I bought in London many years ago. The artist did not leave out even one of the age lines in that face, but it reminds me more than anything of when we were smooth faced boys and girls many and many a day ago, when we boys walked barefooted to and from school, not worrying atall about a hole, much less a patch in the knees of our blue jeans, and leaving home with a pocket full of marbles, along with our favorite taw, all ready to bust open a bunch of some other boy’s marbles setting in the middle of a circle drawn in the Marengo County dirt or lined up in a cat’s eye drawn in that same red dirt.
I really don’t recollect liking to study all that much, but I did like going to school and being with all those folks, friends, teachers, lunchroom workers and janitors alike, and looking at those smooth faced girls decked out in spring dresses in the spring, and wool skirts and sweaters in the fall. And then after school, before going out for sports, Melvin (Moose) Glass and I had some adventures walking (or riding our play like horses), over to Devil’s Gut, Camel’s Back, Backbone Ridge and Indian Mounds, all places of interest around Linden Town and down close to the famous creek known as Chickasaw Bogue.
Talking ‘bout the Bogue, what some memories we made camping down on the Jefferson Bogue, right up from that rock shelf, where there was a mighty fine sandbar with some trees where we boys could string our hammock tents we located down at Mr. Donovan’s Army Surplus Store across from the stockyard. I started out camping with older boys such as Mef Law, Mack Nichols, Bernard Swansey, Robert Sutton and sometimes Bobby Summerlin. Those older boys seemed to like the stories I told around the fire at night, and one night, before we got hammock tents, I walked up to our pup tents, drew a little wiggly line in the sand, and hollowed out, “Snake!” Nobody would leave the fire all night, so we stayed down there talking, singing and dozing off every now and again. We were boys … and young … and friends, and you got to look aways to find buddies better than boyhood friends.
Reckon I ought not tell this, but most of us boys had shotguns and rifles in vehicles parked outside the school on account of we didn’t want to waste time going to get them when we took off hunting after the three o’clock bell rang.
Getting back to that not liking to study too much stuff, seems like Ol’ Gaines (Chick) Vick and I could figure out a way to get called on by the principal and bunch of the teachers to go run errands and such during school hours, so off we would go in Gaines’ old piece of Ford truck, leaving the classroom behind, which was okay with us. Why sometimes when there was a big job to be done, Ol’ Frank Aydelott and Billy Kirkham, as well as Moose, would get to come along, and it usually didn’t take too much imagination or effort on our part to make those little trips an adventure, because you see, we were boys … and young … and carefree … and friends.
Back in the days gone bye that made us who we were.
— Tom Boggs is a columnist for the Demopolis Times and a native of Marengo County. His column,“Days Gone Bye,” appears weekly.
(This column originally appeared in the Wednesday, October 23 issue of the Demopolis Times.)