Kenneth is a rural citizen of Hamilton, Ala., and has begun to observe life and certain things and people helping him to write about them.
I Could Tell That
when I was at age six, I didn’t really lay claim to knowing that much. Oh, I’m not feeling sorry for myself, I am just straining every fiber of my body to be honest with you. But every thought in this piece is in no way an exaggeration, flim-flam, or the slightest hokus, pokus.
My family and I lived so far in the woods that the biggest thing that we looked forward to was getting to walk down a gravel road, brave the Cotton Mouth snakes, and get to get the mail in our mailbox (on a wooden pole) at the end of this three-mile trek.
Sometimes, my mom and I would walk down this road and if she were too busy with housework, my sister and I would take this trip---especially when I began to yell at my mom and sister through the screen door of our kitchen, “Heyyyy! Is it time to get the mail?” Then like clockwork, my mom and sister would get “that” look on their faces. The look that was very reminiscent of a hungry wolf stalking a herd of sheep.
Another Thing That is Key
to this hub is the fact that we, talking about my family, did NOT get that much to eat. And again, please do NOT think that I am being sorry for myself, it was due to my dad’s share-cropping that went south when the Federal Government put a price freeze on the things that my daddy grew—mostly corn and cotton. But even at age six, I knew that something was up when he walked into the house a bit too early because if my dad was one thing, he was so punctual that you could set your watch with him coming home to have lunch and then a late dinner.
Let me share another caloric fact with you: we did have “something” to eat, but it was not on a regular basis. My parents had a flock of chickens who were always doing what chickens do all day and that was catching the poor worms that had the misfortune of trying to squirm out of their sight.
On a particular Sunday, my dad would kill the fattest chicken and dress it for my mom to fry it on her wood stove. She would also make those delicious cat-head biscuits and maybe a pan of dumplings. This was our Sunday dinner, the evening meal, and the next two days’ worth of eating because we had to stretch the things we were blessed with. And now to give you a fair comparison, if you think that the Waltons (on CBS) were poor, “we” could pass for Rural Millionaires.
Then "That" Fateful Day Came
to the most-beautiful sunrise that God ever made. Me being the youngest between my sister and me, I was first to get up and start the day---mostly playing with my dogs, “Frank,” and “Button.” While my sister was riding the school bus, my mom was doing her normal amount of tough work of making the things in the house go another day and my dad, who only drank black coffee and had a cigarette, hit the fields with our mule so we would have “some” money to fall back on.
One morning I was sitting on the back porch not really doing anything and my dad opened the screen door from the kitchen. I noticed that he had this solemn look about his face, so I knew there was a problem somewhere that he did not know how to solve. I am not disrespecting him, but he helped raise me to be honest.
And who better to advise me on what I think was THE most-awkward question that I could ask my dad or any man for that matter.
“Dad, would you let me ask you something?” I was trying hard to be serious.
“Uhhh, sure, Kenny. What’s wrong?” my dad answered while looking off in space. Another sign that he was troubled.
“Do you see them trees over there, well, what are they?” I asked and seriously-wanted to know what these trees were.
I told you in the early going that I was not that bright.
“Kenny, let me say that ‘bought experience is the best kind,’” dad said and walked up to our barn to harness our mule and head to the plows. Still, he had not satisfied my curiosity about what this grove of trees standing near our yard stood for.
Long, Sad Story Short
it didn’t take that long for me to understand what these trees were. They were apple trees and just hanging thick with green apples. Then it hit me: these apples were what we ate on a certain Sunday: our mom’s apple pie.
So by now, I had tasted one of the green apples and they were quite good to be eating in the morning time and before lunch. My teeth acted like a well-oiled machine as I would pick another green apple, it would be history in two bites. Time for another green apple. I was “sitting on Cloud Nine.” Then I wondered how many guys my age would be jealous of what I was doing.
The hot sun was burning the day quickly, but I really didn’t care. It was all about my love of green apples and just how many of those delicious food items I could put into my stomach. For those of you who are keeping score, I am proud to say that I had consumed a grand total of 10 green apples and was making a neat little pile of cores—or what was left of those cores. I loved green apples.
But . . .and you were ahead of me here. I have this feeling that most of you were clairvoyant enough to know that I was beginning to feel the painful affects of those 10 green apples that were attacking my stomach lining like a convoy of Nazi Storm Troopers and I am not making light of the situation here.
The rest of this story is blurry. I did manage to walk back to our house, but somehow, I knew that I had committed some sort of sin. I mean let’s get down and honest here! I really have my doubts that when Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and His twelve disciples walked here and there healing the sick, raising the dead, and preaching The Good News of The Gospel---Jesus and his friends did NOT all sit by the nearest apple tree and all of them swallowed those green apples like I had done. No way. No how.
I did manage to act as if I were hungry when my sister, mom, and dad were all gathered for the evening meal. Hardly anyone spoke while they were eating and I was secretly-praying that none of my family would ask what I had done for most of the day or else I would have to tell a big lie that was convincing enough to keep me out of trouble.
My dad finished his meal, grabbed a cup of coffee, and lit a cigarette and as his habit, walked to the back porch so he could enjoy the rest, coffee, and cigarette. Something or someone told me to walk to the porch just to make sure that I was not in trouble. Here is the example of what we said:
“Uhhh, dad,” I said very sickly.
“Yeah, Kenny. What’s up?” he said before inhaling another puff of his cigarette.
“Oh, I was just wondering . . .” then dad interrupted me by saying:
“About those trees? Well, Kenny, I can tell you here and now that . . .
‘bought experience is the best kind,’” winked at me then went inside the house to talk to my mom and sister.
Oh, do not get me wrong. In the weeks to come, I came clean with my dad simply because he was the head of our home and he laughed as I told him about eating 10 green apples. He also shared one of his boyhood secrets . . .
“when I was a boy your age, I only ate six.”
March 27, 2019____________________________________________
© 2019 Kenneth Avery