They had a story on public television about the life of Mark Twain and if you talk about Mark Twain you have to talk about Huckleberry Finn. Let me tell you, Huck Finn didn't have anything on the boys around here in the 1940s and early 50s.
We did everything Huck did and then some. Not just the boys of Herd Street but the boys of Jordanville, Tallaweka, River Road or East Tallassee. We ran into each other doing the same kind of things. If we had any free time between chores it was seeking an adventure. How many days I can remember fishing up and down Wallahatchee Creek.
Remember I had a brother about five years older than I so I was a tagalong and I loved every minute of it. I remember many adventures, we built a raft in the woods below Yates Dam. We worked on this raft for over a week, there was about five or six of us and we worked very hard. Once it was finished we floated it down to Thurlow Dam. What is that? About 2 miles. We left it and went to our homes, when we got back some days later there wasn't much left of our adventure. We had done it and proved we could do it and that is what counts.
Aubrey was one of the oldest and smartest. I thought he could do anything and followed him in his adventures; that lasted until we were way past being grown. One day we gathered in the back alley between Herd Street and John Street. There was a list of things we needed to gather. There was a big city dump below Herd Street with some great things to be found there — apple crates, nuts and bolts, nails that needed to be straightened and many other useful things.
What are we building was the question? A ferris wheel was his answer and a ferris wheel it was. We built it right there in the back alley. It had four seats and had to be turned with a crank the same way you hoisted a pail of water out of a well. I wish I could have had a camera to take pictures. We didn't have any money for film but two boys did, they were the only child in their families. Winston Harrington was raised by his grandparents and James Chaffin was an only child. They probably could have had a camera and film but as fate would have it, we didn't take pictures of our projects and there were plenty of them.
Wouldn't it be something if we had pictures of Ashurst Bar Creek or Wallahatchee Creek during skinny dipping time? The tree houses we built or the fortresses we had, the hikes we took down the railroad tracks from Tallassee to Milstead and back.
Old Huckleberry didn't have a single thing on us. We took barrel staves and made sleds, then we slid down pine straw hills. We took a 55-gallon drum, cut out each end, ran a cable through the drum and tied each end to a tree. This made a perfect bucking barrel giving us days of fun. We made screen wire minnow traps and caught our own fish bait. We dug our own worms and knew where to dig for the fish bait we needed. We searched the streets in Tallassee late in the day or early night for grasshoppers and crickets. We carried our fishing line, hooks and sinkers with us and when we got to the river we then cut us a fishing pole — we didn't have bought rods and reels. My first rod and reel was probably a Zebco 202, which we now consider as a young boys starter kit. We wouldn't dare walk across a ditch when there was a vine we could swing on.
To make a long story short, us boys around here could put Mark Twain and ol' Huck to shame. In the little time I have here I'm going to change themes and tell you about my New Year’s resolution. I have resolved to marry a rich woman; some woman who has won the lottery will be fine. I have tried to make it on my own and that hasn't worked at all. I have tried to be a happy, poor man and that hasn't worked either. I'm putting out a bulletin that if a woman hits it big with the lottery and has more money than she knows what to do with, I'm the man I'll help her and travel with her and do all the things a 85-year-old man can do to make her happy. You may ask the question, what will you do if she is real ugly? That won't be any problem at all. You see, I always close my eyes when I kiss so it won't matter if she's ugly or not. I really don't care for snuff dippers but if she won enough I may can get used to that. If you know of such a woman get in touch with the Coffeebreaker.
I'm asking you to rush because in fifteen years I'll be 100 years old.