I think a kid should stay a kid as long as he or she can. Sometimes I think grown-ups want them to grow up and be men and ladies when they should still be children.
A lot of us had to grow up quicker than we should have because of the times and circumstances.
I was thinking the other day how we used to walk up town to buy groceries. Mama would make a list and away I would go. It was only three blocks but that could be a short three blocks or a long three blocks.
It all depends on how Mama said it when she gave me the grocery order.
If she handed me the order and said here, be careful and you can get you a piece of candy and add it to the bill. That meant go get the groceries, take your time but follow my instructions. Now if she handed me the order and said go get these items and get back as quick as you can because I'll be starting dinner and I'll need some of the items on the list. That meant to hurry along and don't do any dilly dalling along the way.
You see there were a lot of things between our house and the three blocks to the Company Store. There was a back alley that ran behind Herd Street and at the end of that back alley was a huge trash pile and if, just if, I happened to see something real valuable lying over
in that trash pile, anyone not just me but anyone would have to stop and inspect it to see just how bad I needed it.
If it was scrap iron, there is no way I could pass it up because it wouldn't be there when I came back by. If there were any other boys there, you had to find out what they had already found. If they were doing something, they would generally invite me to come along and I would have to explain I had to go to the store for my mama and besides she said I could get a piece of candy for running the errand.
This would always cause some ears to perk up and someone would ask what I was going to get. You see you could get five pieces of penny candy for a nickel; a pack of chewing gum was 5 cents and so was five pieces of Double Bubble.
An R.C. Cola was 5 cents and two or three could get a big swallow and still have some left. Before I left that trash pile I would have one or two with me. We would have it understood whoever went with me could share in the candy but would have to help carry the groceries to my house.
After leaving the trash pile we came up South Ann and there were the rock steps. There were many ghost stories connected to the rock steps and the sidewalk that went passed Mill No. 1 and the old Confederate Armory.
Everybody knows that Confederate soldiers guard those steps even to this day and we couldn't pass it by without telling at least one of these stories. Especially if there were any boys younger or were younger than me on the journey.
Between the rock steps and the Western Auto was probably the biggest Indian Cigar tree in all of Elmore and part of Tallapoosa County. Now some people call them a Catawba tree and on these trees at a certain time of the year are some worms that make the best fish bait in the world.
I've heard rumors fish have been caught wiggling up the hill from the river trying to get to those Catawba worms.
We could get 15 cents for a can of these worms.
Those Indian Cigars have to be laid out in the sun until they dry out before they can be smoked and they have to be hidden until they dry. You see Mamas kinda frown on boys smoking Indian Cigars, rabbit tobacco and cross vine and besides if other boys see them they may get them. Right up the road and I hope you are following along with me, is where they keep paving tar. Let me explain, tar used to come in 55-gallon drums. The city had a tar heating machine. They would take big axes and cut open the drum; inside the drum was pure tar. I don't know if you know this or not but all boys like to chew tar and all boys of my day carried a Barlow knife. Nobody cared if we cut off a hunk of that tar for chewing purposes but just in case we waited until no one was around watching before we cut a hunk of it.
Well, we arrive at the grocery store with our list in my pocket. By the way Mr. Jolly or Brooks Chapman would say, your mama called and said to tell you to hurry home with those groceries. My goodness I would say, “What is her big rush? I haven't even had time to pick out the kind of candy I want. She treats me like I am supposed to be a grown man.”