It’s getting late, I can hear the train now, and it’s a long ways off. Mom use to put us to bed when she heard the train coming. She’d tell us to “be quiet and listen to the whistle blow,” ‘til we nodded off to sleep.
We lived on Moncrief Extension in Dinsmore, next to the Claxton’s on one side, back in the ‘50s. Years later, the county put Honeycutt Lane on the other side. The nearest neighbor to the south was the Jackson family. Dad bought Shorty’s farm, a run down house with about 5 acres of land. A real fixer upper.
The first time I ever got to see stars in the daytime, was when Dad and my uncle, John Arnold were toting a railroad tie on their shoulders and I was walking alongside “supervising.” When they dumped the tie from their shoulders, they didn’t see me. The tie bounced up and knocked me silly. These two guys couldn’t baby me enough, shsshhing me, telling me not to cry, both ascared that Momma or Aunt Alice would hear me. The ice cream truck came by and I got my first fudge sickle.
Billy Claxton use to come by almost everyday to tease my big sister Glenda. Glenda was 12 or 13 and Billy sure did take pleasure in chasing her around the yard with a toy wooden snake. It may have been a toy, but it looked real enough to me, but I was only 5 years old. Billy was a big kid, he grew up to be a big man. He became a firemen. The Dinsmore Fire Department was at the end of the road. I read that he just passed away, a little while back. I often wondered if growing up as a kid next to the fire department inspired him to be a firemen. What do you think?
For my 5th birthday, Mom made me aqua colored birthday cake and I got my own toy snake, so I could chase my cousin Cindy around the yard.
The train tracks were right across the street. It seems like it would be a night mare having to put up with all the train traffic going by at all hours, but I think that we got use to it, if, that’s possible. At night, the pitiful sound of the freight train’s whistle would sing you to sleep, then in the mornings, about 6 am, the speeding locomotives heading down the Seaboard Coastline, pulling the passenger cars would zip by, our morning alarm clock. No going back to sleep after that.
Mr. Claxton had a field full of water melons that was oh so tempting to a 5 year old boy. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn didn’t have anything on me. My cousins Linda and Cindy Arnold lived on Harrell St. just around the corner, the other side of the Post Office. They would visit us. Linda, closer to my sister Glenda’s age would do big girl things in the house with big sister while me and Cindy were told to go outside and play.
I mentioned to Cindy about how tasty one of those big, plump, juicy melons would be, if we could just get one out of the field and over to our house in the shade.
I mimicked her Dad, he use to sing a little diddy when he sold watermelons, “Eat the meat and pickle the rind, save the seeds to planting time. Watermelon first, watermelon last, if you don’t like watermelon, then drive on past.”
She wanted to alright, but stealing a watermelon, couldn’t we get in trouble for that? I told her that we were little kids and little kids were supposed to get in trouble. We had seen Mr. Claxton leave off in his old truck and I told her that now would be a good time.
The sun was beaming down on us; it was surely hot, just the thought of the juicy melon was enough to inspire us. Our side of the field was high with weeds and grass; two 5 year olds were hard to see, especially with us bending over slightly, making our way to the fence. The little squares of the field wire were perfect steps for our little feet. The weeds weren’t so high on Mr. Claxton’s side, so we had to stoop over to keep from being seen. Honeybees weren’t paying much attention to us as they scurried from bloom to bloom. The yellow blossoms were every where, attached to the vines that led us to our prize.
We tried that plunking thing, but like I said before, we were just kids. They all sounded the same to us. We chose the biggest one we could find and then we discovered our first problem. We didn’t have a knife to cut the vine. A water melon vine is a tough rascal. We took turns chewing on the vine until it got thin enough to tear in two.
Then we discovered our next big problem. The melon was so big we couldn’t carry it. We both doubled over and rolled it to the fence. The next obstacle was getting that big ole melon over the fence. The two of us together couldn’t lift it. Looking at Cindy’s face, I knew she was about to tear up. I thought about the sliding board to our swing set that we got for Christmas.
By working together as a team, we were able to drag the sliding board over to the fence. We put the ladder side over the fence, on the Claxton’s side. By pushing together, we were able to get the melon up and over the top of the ladder. Cindy balanced it one spot, while I crossed over to catch it when she let go. When I saw that melon coming at me at full speed, I jumped out of the way and the melon broke into a dozen pieces.
When my sister Glenda and Linda snuck up on us from behind, the two of us had two big fistfuls of watermelon with juice running down both side of our face. We were bending over trying to spit seeds on the unsuspecting bees, through the fence, while they were flying in and out of the blooms.
Cindy has gone on ahead of me; she passed on a few years ago. I miss her. I’m not sure if I’ll get in or not but if any of y’all get to see her before I do, tell her for me, I’ll meet her by the fence. I can hear the whistle blowing now. The train must be getting near, such a lonesome sound.