I was born in the south. I live in the south and will die in the south. This is only a small part of the memories I share.
The Cold Truth of The Matter
is that what you are (hopefully) going to read before you charge like an angry rhino to your kitchen nook to snag a pork chop or maybe a pack of wieners. Angry rhino’s who are famished are not choosy.
Dad was a share cropper. Probably the best in our county. I never blamed him for this work or the meager amount of money he made from working someone’s crops, but we had food, clothing, and a roof over our house. In latter years, I learned what the word, “staples” really meant.
Not only was my dad the best share cropper, but very wise. Along from knowing right off just how much fertilizer, seed, plants, and fuel it would take to get the crops plowed, cultivated, harvested and taken to the local market. I faint with fear of knowing that I could have never followed in his shoes. But I give my dad all of the credit for his many abilities besides share cropping, but he was a Cracker Jack auto mechanic (long before the Federal Government and EPA forced auto makers to install smog controls in their cars), a carpenter, brick mason, and a U.S. veteran of World War II. Believe this or not, but in any of these vocations was my dad as sloppy workman.
Enter The King of Daddy’s Cornfields Kingdom
not for you to be confused by the famous men named Prince Charles, England; Prince, the late musical-genius and Prince Charming, the dude that won Cinderella’s heart by giving her a glass slipper. (oh, if I had only known this when I was single.)
I now gladly-introduce you to dad’s “king” and friend as well as my first real hero, Mr. Curtis Glenn or just plain Curt, to his friends which number way past too many to count. No exaggeration implied.
First, let me give you a proper way to allow you to see him in these words: Curt was never sad about anything or anyone. His face was always aglow and telling those near-nasty jokes to his buddies, not not the women. He had a healthy-respect for the women of the day when I was a boy.
Curt rode a bicycle everywhere he went. And that is saying quite a lot because he did not learn how to drive a vehicle and lived over 20 miles from where he lived, still, he rode his bicycle to and from work and home—even church. His bicycle, if you didn’t know it, would make you reminiscent of Curt because he had decorated his bicycle to match his colorful image—six wrist watches, a handful of badges that he had found (the badges that read “No Smoking,” and he didn’t smoke, but dipped Rooster snuff.
In Case You Were Wondering
the amount of Curt having six wrist watches is no typo. It was the truth. I was about eight when my dad and mom carried me to worship at New Hope Church, near where we lived in the New Hope Community, 10 miles northwest of Hamilton, Ala., the county seat of Marion County.
Anyway, with a bit of my history aside, Curt wore three watches on each wrist and me being a curious youngster just had to ask, Curt, why do you wear so many watches? This was Curt’s motivation to answer me in a show-business flair, “I gosh! Three of them watches tell me what time it is yesterday—the other three tell me what time it is tomorrow. I gosh!” He always used that catch-phrase I, gosh no matter where he was or whom he was conversing with. I will say that when he told me why so many watches, a small group of men were as captivated as I was when he answered that they let-out a gusher of laughter, knee-slapping, and ribs to the side. Curt loved show business.
I almost forgot. I told you that his bicycle was decorated to look like himself. The front and back wheel both had bottle caps in each set of spokes and when you looked at the bicycle afar off, Curt’s bicycle looked sharp. And when he put a raccoon tail on the back fender, the wind would get into the tail and it flew straight as Curt’s peddling was like that of a mad man.
Dad’s Cornfields Kingdom
spanned over seven acres of the nicest corn that could be grown in Alabama. And my dad and Curt not only pulled it from the stalks and piled the corn up for loading later, but the two men, in my view, could do more work than any five men would dare take on such a task—but I am here to testify that I witnessed it and I am right about my dad and Curt, the King of Dad’s Cornfields. Maybe Merle Haggard should have written a Country song about those cornfields, huh?
It was on one day after school that I visited the cornfields where dad and Curt were working away and my dad gave me a “job” and I felt very manly. Truth be told, any eight-year-old guy will feel very bravado if given a task to do. But my assignment was to help Curt load the corn piles into a trailer that my dad was pulling by the owner, Mrs. Verta Dobb’s Ford Harvester Tractor, but I didn’t notice anything but doing the best job that I could do.
“Heyyy, boy!” I heard Curt yell. “ya’ see these brown things on the ground?”
“Yes. What are they?” I replied, not knowing that Curt had set me up for a clever joke.
“These little brown balls are for headaches,” he said with a grin five-miles wide.
“You have a headache right now?” Curt asked still hoping that I would take a brown pill.
“No, Curt, he doesn’t,” my dad sharply-replied and Curt and dad had a good laugh—not at me, but with me.
I did know that I found out one Rule of Nature: rabbits are the neatest animals in the Animal Kingdom because when they are answering Nature’s Call, their droppings are all in a neat little pile.
But after the laugh, the evening went off without a hitch. Curt didn’t try to pull anymore clever jokes. I thought that he had too much respect for my dad and besides, Curt loved the money that he made from helping my dad. He also hired himself out to anyone who had share-cropping to do or any odd job such as moving, clearing brush, and just anything that would give him some spending money.
Curt, I want you to know, lived in a one-room house made from lumber and cardboard. This is the truth. We saw it. He had a coal-burning stove for heat in the winter and for cooking when he was home.
Curt must have been a wealthy man because he did not pay any rent, electric, water or phone bill because he lived on Simp, Quillen, Marvin, and Dovey, his brothers land and for a spending a little scratch on Rooster snuff or maybe a soda at Henry Stidham’s General Store on Highway 187 that ran served as the main highway not far from the Glenn’s homesteads. But they were all as happy as larks.
And I can tell you that a lot of you might say that Curt and his brothers’ humble lifestyle made them modern-day bums, but on one vacation, my wife and daughter visited the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, but it didn’t make me a drunk.
March 23, 2019__________________________________________
© 2019 Kenneth Avery
Ken Avery on April 02, 2019:
Elijjah: many thanks to you for your kindness and appreciation.
And you lead a really interesting life with your foot tour
I appreciate it.
Ken Avery on April 02, 2019:
Hi, Unmesh: thank you, my dear friend.
Come back to talk to me often.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on March 26, 2019:
Elijah A Alexander Jr from Washington DC on March 25, 2019:
Wow, Ken, you have some of the most interesting, I believe are real, stories about some very unusual people. How did I miss them during my traveling by foot. Oh, because I was only in northern Alabama once and only stayed there two nights before heading south again in the winter of '77-78.
I really enjoy your stories although I don't read them all, yet, I have a lots in my inbox with stars for later reading.