Everybody looked forward all week to Saturday Nights. That's when everything happened in town.
Each level, or age group had their thing they planned on doing. Now Grandpa had a passel of boys, and a couple of good looking girls too, and he kept a pretty good lookout for those girls. The boys he didn't watch too much, but those girls, well, let's just say he was a country boy himself once . . .
Clay County where we was all born and raised - was a dry county. And the boys, (those that minded the spirits), had to drive across the St. Francis river which was the state line to get something a little stronger than Dr. Pepper. Usually stashed somewhere in the barn or the chicken coop or even the outhouse one could find some sippin' spirits or corn sqeezins.
The youngest of the boys, Byron, the closest to my age being only a couple of years older, tended to take after Grandpa who was quite a scrapper in his time. Grandpa was an old "knuckle and skull" fighter from way back, and I've often heard stories of when he knew Jesse James the outlaw pretty good.
I've checked the time lines, and unless I've missed something, the dates don't line up . . . I kind of have a feeling it was some of them there yarns what my young uncles would spread...
So when the youngest got his first car, he would go to where they were having knuckle and skull fist fights for sport. I've been with him on one of those forays. But I just never did cotton to the idea of getting into the middle of a ring of cars with everybody sitting on the hoods, and letting some big old tough country boy beat me senseless trying to re-arrange my face, so, I never did participate. Call it whatever you want, but at least it doesn't take 32 of me to make a full set of teeth!
Byron and I would ride a planter or some kind of tractor drawn piece of equipment; the season which called for it, and Grandpa would give us both a dollar at the end of the week. Man, talk about making bank! We thought we had a lot of money! And it was to an 8 year old! (was a quarter when we were younger),
I liked to go looking through all the wonderful places in town to spend my dollar. Boy, it was exciting! Right across from the park was the 10¢ store, and beside it was Dortche's Grocery Store.
It was where everybody shopped for groceries, (usually puttin' it on the tab), at least until Hogly Wogly (actually the Pigly Wiggly, but Larry, the left-handed pitcher renamed it Hogly Wofly and it stuck 'cause it sounded funnier) came into town.
The purpose of this story is this: before you could go to town on Saturday night, everybody had to take a bath. I remember bath time on Saturday Nights on the farm quite vividly. Now remember, we didn't have running water, so, the baths were taken in a round washtub, and me being the youngest I was also the lastest (until Stevie came along). Lord knows I wreaked the same vengeance on him that the big-uns wreaked on me!
Grandpa would set up the tub in the kitchen, and the kids would man the old hand pump. When the tub was about 3/4 bath level full, then the pot would go on the stove to heat water.
Grandma was first, then the girls, then Grandpa (if he felt he needed it). Then the boys, starting at the oldest that was still at home. Although some were already grown, they had kids a whole lot older than I or even my Uncles Doyne and Byron for that matter.
But,you took your turn in the tub according to your age. And I don't remember ever being there for bath time without a fight. Every time someone was in the tub, someone else would throw a cup of cold water on whoever was in the tub. I've seen many a bare tail come flying out of the kitchen just a stringing water ever-where, modesty to the wind, Grandma shrieking wildly to "you git yourself back in there!" to wale mightily on the dirty rotten rat who threw the cold water.
Another thing that started many a fight was a little sentence from the prior patron. It would go something like "I pee'd in the water" (but only after the present bather had washed their head and face . . .
And the fight was on. Grandpa would have to come in and threaten to get a switch, and more than once, have to change the water before baths could resume!
That would throw the whole bunch late (and more often than not, got you taken down a notch on the sequence of who took baths when), and if we didn't hurry, we'd miss the drawing.
One of the rules of the drawing in the park there at Rector was you had to be there to collect. If there was a fight and it caused Grandpa to miss the drawing, then the two guilty parties got a bustin' with the switch (known as Cotton stalk Tea) when we got home that night. So, that didn't happen very much. God help the offending bather if Grandpa's name was drawn and he was not there to collect!
Sometimes, when someone made a statement like that, the person in the water would just finish his bath, and quietly begin to plan for vengeance.
All except me. I was the runt of the bunch, and I couldn't do much and I sure 'nuff couldn't whoop nobody. (Like the proper use of double negatives huh? I'm sure ol' lady Rowton would like that!).
But, since I couldn't whoop nobody, I learned there were other things that could be done. Subtle things, like putting a bunch of mouse pellets in their shoes. Now that is funny! And they'd think a rat did it! (And actually, a rat did do it!)
But that is another story for another time. I have so much to write about, and so many stories, I don't know if I ever will get to finish them all.
I hope whoever is taking the time to read these is getting as much enjoyment out of reading them as I have had in writing them!