When small, we would play cars with any object we could push around in the dirt. We would push out roads to drive our vehicles on, and when the car was in motion we would make a sound with our lips …
When small, we would play cars with any object we could push around in the dirt. We would push out roads to drive our vehicles on, and when the car was in motion we would make a sound with our lips to imitate the sound of a running motor. I still remember that my first play car was no car at all. It was a piece of iron that had been used to secure a barn door. It was shaped in such a way that it could be fastened on one side of the door. Another like it on the other side allowed a heavy board to be inserted between the two across the front of the door which was an effective bar to keep the door closed. Country boys made do with what they could find while using a little imagination.
We had an old mule named Dock that pulled a plow in order for us to make a garden. Dock would not let anyone ride him, and those who tried ended up being unceremoniously expelled from his back. We did find a way to use him to have fun. We built a sled and would hitch him to it and ride. We had trails through the woods which we had worn while riding the sled. Another way we used a sled, or slides as we called them, was on what we named "straw hill." This ride did not involve old Dock but was more like a roller derby with no wheels; maybe we could call it a sliding derby. There was a rather steep slope covered with pine needles which at the bottom gently curved upward to an adjoining hill. We spent many hours on straw hill riding our slides. The thick pine needles made the perfect runway to send our slides racing down the hill. We each made our own slides and we would have races to see which was the fastest. As stated, boys who lived in the country could find ways to amuse themselves.
Entertainment outside our little sphere was almost non-existent. The last three years I was in high school, I was a member of the marching band and was able to attend football games without having to pay admission. Professional sports were not available, and I never attended a movie until my senior year, when I was able to view Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea as I have already mentioned. The majority of our outside related activities involved church services and gospel singings. Fishing, trapping, digging ginseng, and other outdoor activities provided enjoyable pursuits that occupied the little bit of spare time that was available for me. Televisions had not yet made their appearance in our little po-dunk community during my early childhood, and we did not own one during most of my early years. We did own a radio, but the static was so bad that it was difficult to stay tuned to an entire program.
Swimming holes were few and far between on our dry section of land, but there was one where water channeled through a railroad culvert poured into a small creek. We frequented that as often as possible. There was a railroad trestle over the Warrior River three or four miles from the house, and we would sometimes walk to it to join others who jumped from the bridge to the water below. It was quite a distance from the tracks to the water, and we were warned about the danger involved in the jump. Boys will be boys, however, and we would sneak off and go and jump from the bridge. The problem with this was that we would almost always return home with our swimsuits covered with creosote that the heat had drawn from the treated crossties we had sat on, and then the gig was up when it came to facing Momma. There was an advantage, however, after the first application of creosote to our swim trunks. The stuff was there on a permanent basis and as we only had one pair, we had to wear them with the creosote decoration on them. The advantage there was that Mother could not always tell when additional applications of the stuff were added, so it was easier to go jump off the bridge without getting caught. One had to figure every angle in order to be an accomplished deceiver of forbidden activities. For those not in the know, that stuff won't come out of clothing, and around our house clothing was scarce. I am still amazed that I was able to climb Fool's Hill safely considering some of the dare-devil capers I pulled, God must have provided me with a special Guardian Angel.
Eventually Dad had a pond dug in our bottom land ("the bottoms," as we referred to it) and the problem of finding a swimming hole was solved. No matter that after a little splashing around the clear water would become dingy with mud from the bottom, water is water and that was one way to cool off after a hard day's work or on a leisurely Sunday afternoon. The pond served as a magnet for neighborhood children.
Contact Wheeler Pounds at 3424 Kings Mill Rd, Oakman, AL 35579, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.