Since I won’t see you before the Fourth of July, let’s talk for a moment about that big holiday and some old memories.
That year, Uncle Kelley, the bachelor uncle every kid should be lucky enough to have, still hadn’t laid-by his little corn patch down in the bottom. He hollered at me and Jack and asked if we would help him finish up the plowing there.
We readily agreed. So we dropped the “sody” and listed the rows of corn with the Avery Crickets and ran out the middles with a shovel and big sweep on a Georgia stock (with the help of old Ider and old Bell) and wrapped up the season for the corn.
Later, he probably took us to town for the world’s best malted milk at the Rexall Drug Store, and/or maybe a hot dog from Wimpy’s Place.
Daddy said later, “If I knew you wanted to work, I had plenty for you to do.” He didn’t understand. Working for Kelley was almost like not working. For Daddy, it was, well, just work.
Brother Jack always managed to have some money. Don’t know how he did it. I was always broke. Anyway, Kelley loved to tell these stories about Jack.
One Fourth of July, the Farm Bureau was having some kind of function in town. Kelley saw Jack, 10 or 11 at the time, wandering around by himself, and asked, “Hey, Jack. Need any money?”
Jack answered – Kelley loved this – “Need money? Need money? Whachoo talkin’ about. I’ve got $2.36 in my pocket and $13.46 in the bank. Me? Need money?”
Another time, Jack was showing off a real, honest-to-goodness five dollar bill on the school bus. Just west of J.T. Todd’s, by the big gully, the bill flew out the window. I mean, this was panic time. “Stop the Machine. Stop All Engines. Whoa!” A search party was quickly organized, and the bill was found.
Still another Fourth of July, we had heard about this great swimming hole on the Buttahatchee River, just over in Mississippi. So, let’s go. A bunch of cousins was quickly rounded up, and Kelley hauled us all over there in his pick-up.
It turned out not to be all that good – not as good a place as the Iron Bridge. This one was like the Whit River at South Royalton, Vt., wide and swift but shallow. I can still see that fly fisherman standing way out in the middle of the White River. This one was kind of like that – not a real hole, but it was fun, trying to swim upstream in that current.
Point is, Kelley was always there, even on the Fourth of July.
And then there was the Fourth of July when our parents let us have the day off, and Ross and I went on an all-day fishing expedition on Yellow Creek.
I had my brand new Bronson reel and my short little rod that I’d ordered from Sear, Roebuck and Company, after intensively studying the specifications of both for weeks. Finally, Mother ordered them for me, along with a red and white River Runt plug.
Now, to the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever caught a fish on a red and white River Runt. Fortunately, I had also purchased a Hawaiian Wiggler #2, because it was less likely to get hung up.
Let’s be honest: over half our time was spent in getting our plugs out of limbs and things, or in trying to straighten out the crows’ nests in my reel.
But about two football fields downstream from the Iron Bridge, I managed to get my bait in the water. I thought, “Oh my gosh, hung up again.” But it was a fish! A bass! My very first one. We inspected every scale, every gill. A real live bass!
And to make it better, about five minutes later, Ross caught one of almost exactly the size – his first one, too.
What size! How could we top that? That was enough to make it a very successful fishing trip …and a happy Fourth of July.
Bob Sanders is a veteran local radio personality, columnist, author and raconteur of note. He can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org