Days Gone Bye: When you were twelve (Retread from 25 July 2001)

Published 5:18 pm Thursday, September 14, 2023

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In 1952 I had to start paying full price at the picture show on account of turning twelve, which was the 51-52 school year.  Linden Red Devils didn’t do well on the gridiron, but Coach Chink Lott and the Demopolis Tigers didn’t lose a single solitary game with the likes of Bo Spear, Doug Lott, Eddie Willingham and that bunch.

Daddy took me up to the airfield near Saltwell to see several thousand army paratroopers camping out there on their way back from some training out in Texas, I think it was.  Sure got me to thinking about being one of those troopers ‘til I really did join up with that bunch some years thereafter.

That was the year Ike was running for President, and one of our neighbors and fellow Presbyterians, Joyce Jeffrey, got selected as the County Maid of Cotton. They had a rodeo up in Demopolis, and there was a standing offer of $100 to anybody who could stay on the bull, Big Sid, for ten seconds,  but I don’t think any of the Marengo County cowboys tired out Big Sid that evening.

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You know, for no particular reason, when I think back on being twelve, I conjure up the smell of a Wisteria bush. Ma had several of ‘em , and it was a good place to catch white headed bumble bees.  Why you reckon I thought of that?  Well, we’ve always agreed that what we try to do with this writing is think about good stuff, for a good reason or no reason at all.

Shucks! We still had milk delivered to the front porch in glass bottles, with cardboard tops, and cream floating at the top.  Would love to have a taste of that cream right this minute, but if I did first thing I’d think about would be answering to Ma how come I sneaked a taste of that pure cream off the top.

Ma’s been gone since she was only 54, and Daddy left at 65, but isn’t it a great thing to have your mama and daddy so vivid in your memory bank that you can near ‘bout see ‘em both standing on the street corner ‘cross from the old courthouse over where Brown hotel used to be.

There was  no place in town my bicycle wouldn’t take me, and we just didn’t expect the folks to haul us around in the car. (Only had one car anyhow).  Now, I admit I got a heap of mud stuck between the bike fender and front tire when I’d be delivering the Mobile Press Register or Birmingham Post Herald on unpaved Linden streets after a big rain.  ‘Course, if I took off the fender, that would spay mud all over the papers, and that would never do.  Always deliver a clean, dry paper was my motto.

Just thinking about Daddy and other menfolk in 1952 wearing those hats with the brims.  Looked at a photo the other day of Daddy walking in front of the Courthouse with Governor John Patterson, both of ‘em sporting those hats with the front brim pulled down like Al Capone or some of those characters.

My good buddy, Pete Barkley, played his last season as a Red Devil in 1952.  Here’s praying that Pete comes out well with his cancer operation on July 19th, so he can stay around to tell me more tales of days gone bye.

If you’re turning twelve this month…happy day to you.   If you turned twelve fifty years ago…well, you’ve seen some good uns, and a very special happy day to you.