By Otis Griffin
In the metropolis of Rosemark especially during ginning season, there was a lot of activity back then.
The old faded gray metal gin once owned by the Moore Brothers, but eventually sold to the Thompsons, was the center of conversations, especially for the world renowned philosophers.
This way they could look across the interstate and guess what each finished bale would weigh, how much each farmer would collect and before it was all over, most of the time tell you how the money would be spent. They were smarter than a Sunday School room full of number three class Sages. If you didn’t believe it, just ask them and they’d tell you.
Neighbor, you remember you had to wait in line for your turn, but when each wagon was ginned and emptied of the white miracle fluff, you’d have to move up the next selected slot. For the youngsters this was a big deal.
Get in the truck, hit the starter stob, accidentally beep, beep, beep the horn and pull up to the next slot, maybe six or eight feet. Crawl out and look around to make sure everyone saw you drive. But, act like you didn’t notice or care!!
After your load was ginned, we’d drive across the road to Mr. Ben’s store and get a dollar’s worth of Esso gasoline. Back then there were two pumps, red and dark blue. Rednecks called them ‘reg’ler’ and high test!! Never heard of Premium!
Friends, it was a big deal for you to twirl the little silver handle on the side, wind the gauges back to zero and raise the handle from whence you had extracted the long rubber hose with the heavy metal nozzle.
Of course on the stripped down Chevy truck, the gas tank cap stuck up about two feet and I had to twist like crazy if I wanted show off………..just a little. I’ve pumped many a two-bit gallon of gasoline. Probably enough for several trips from Little Texas to Junior Ray’s house. After I’d completed my task, I’d stomp up the steps right beside the philosophers and they’d ignore me. I’m driving and they didn’t brag on me.
My ego has taken a lick. But my friends were impressed, so I survived.
Beloved there is no way in the South that anyone can drive a truck without pulling a wagon or trailer. Whether it’s cotton, corn, or hay. We wore out a two wheel trailer tugging it behind pickup trucks. After about a hundred years of practice in the cow pasture I finally could back a two wheel trailer without knocking down every Double Cola and Barq’s Root Beer sign in the county. But I confess my intellect and mental capacity stopped short in handling a four-wheeler.
When Daddy witnessed me trying to put the four wheel trailer on top of the barn, he called a halt to this fiasco. I had the tongue under the back tires similar to a center on the football team trying to look between his legs and flip the ball to the quarterback.
Even the cows, hogs and chickens were standing, pointing and laughing.
But Daddy wasn’t amused at all. Neighbor, two things you could count on back then. One…….a redneck wasn’t going to work on ‘Sat’dy’ afternoon. Friends, he was going to town as you knocked off at dinner. Two…….I couldn’t back a four wheel trailer.
It’s probably a good thing when Neil Armstrong and John Glenn were making preparations to go to the moon that I wasn’t their driver. If they had all their gear loaded in my four wheel trailer and I was supposed to back my trailer up to the rocket ship, we’d still be out in Stan’s front yard at Saulsbury running around in circles. I never did find out what they were looking for, but the monkey wouldn’t have made the trip either!!
Another time one of my friends down by the canal had ‘borrowed’ his Daddy’s truck to practice a little driving in the cow pasture. Back then, each truck had a license plate on the front bumper and one on the behind bumper. Billy was trying to nervously learn and somehow the front plate disappeared.
When he got back to the shed, putting the truck in the original spot, he noticed this tragedy and panicked. Billy came got several of us to walk the pasture so his Daddy wouldn’t whoop him. Evidently he’d hit a stump and didn’t want to tell us. But the Lone Ranger and Tonto came to his rescue and sure enough he tied the license plate back with some baling wire. Just like brand new…Smart Redneck!
Now we didn’t call it…………… showing off….. No Sirrreeee!! Especially if there was a big crowd on the porch of the store maybe we just got in a big hurry. Accidentally, sometimes our left foot would slip off the clutch and we’d sling a little loose red gravel. Scratching off?
Neighbor, you’d better not show off too much or someone would tell your parents. Besides the casings back then had tubes and it was very hard to change a flat. Sometimes this was very embarrassing to put it mildly.
The one thing that every bush jumper hated to happen seemed to occur when there was a big crowd. You remember?? Yep, trying to shift from low to second and hitting reverse. Lawdy Miss Clawdy, the gears would grind for miles around. Of course the comments, “he’s got a ways to go.” “Try yo’ clutch next time.” “Maybe he can’t handle a truck just yet” would loudly fill the air. Plus all the finger pointing and giggling that would make you want to run and hide under the corn crib.
But a country boy can survive. Just another day in the life of a redneck trying to grow up too fast.
Southern Raised, but Sometimes not Southern Praised…. GLORY!
— What do you think? Send Letters to the Editor to firstname.lastname@example.org.