Sitting here thinking of a time far away, seems like a life-time ago, a time when things weren’t always good. A memory my brother Johnny probably doesn’t remember or even have the faintest imagination that it impacted my life. Johnny is my oldest brother, the patriarch of our family for many years now, since my dad has been gone. I have memories of him often, some are remnants or flashes that hadn’t finished their train of thought, to wonderful ones that I will remember always. As a young man, he had a mind of his own and his decisions may not have always been the best, but there was never a time he wasn’t there for us, nor was there a time I didn’t think he cared. I know many of you remember Baldy Green’s store, the little rock one on the south end of town. It hasn’t always been white like it is now. Well, Johnny used to work there when I was a kid. Strange how many memories I have that revolve around food, I guess because I remember what it was like when it was sometimes scarce around my house. Anyway, when Johnny would cull out the produce section, Mr. Green would let him bring home what was still good but wouldn’t sell. Fruit was the main thing I remember, especially bananas, one could smell them before the sack was opened. Sometimes there were enough of them that momma would make a banana pudding. Bananas shelf life isn’t very long, so if they started turning too brown, Johnny got to bring them home. Johnny was young then, I’m sure still in high school. With a child’s anticipation, we couldn’t wait to see what he would bring home. The same goes for when he worked for the Coca Cola bottling plant. As I’ve said before, I can’t open a sprite without thinking of him. I can still see the railroad tracks, the loading dock and the bottling plant. There were a lot of flats of soft drinks loaded on to that old train with the brawn Johnny put into them, along with others. It was sad when the bottling plant closed, even a sadder moment when we lost the railroad. The tracks stayed there for many years before they were taken up. The depot is still there and is a museum now. All this to remember when we were in school. We road the school bus like a lot of kids did in the 60’s. The old dirt road I speak of was about a quarter of a mile from our house. Our immediate road up to the house was too sandy for the school bus to make it down and it didn’t have a way to turn around if it made it to the house. We didn’t have the school vans or small busses then. We road bus #5 and Mr.”Gotche” Mints drove it. It was not a long walk unless the weather wanted to be ugly. We walked that road a million times through the sand blowing in the wind, getting in our mouth, teeth and hair. We walked it in foggy weather where you could hardly find one another. Now that was fun. Getting lost in the fog was amazing! We walked that road in rainy weather with no umbrella, soaking wet when we got on the bus. I remember having a tarp at the end of the road for some such days, waiting on the bus. I remember chilly weather with less than a sweater and of course cold weather with not a thick enough coat. I particularly remember on one occasion the wind was blowing really hard, the snow was passing by vertically and it was hard to get a hold on the ground being as small as I was at the time. The wind was piercing, and it hurt, the pelts of ice and snow hitting me in the face, the snow slipping into my shoes against bare skin because there were no socks. I was trying to make it as hard as I could, and I was making some headway when I felt someone jerk me up, pull me tight against him and carry me to the house, he would walk fast for a minute and then run, he was out of breath by the time we got home, we all were. It was Johnny, Kenneth, Buddy and me in school at the time. I wonder sometimes if Johnny realized how much he was appreciated or knows how much we needed him. Johnny had left home by the time he was 17 or 18 and was married by the time he was 19. So, there aren’t a lot of childhood memories I have of him. Most of the ones I do have are good ones. The nine of us were strung along for so long it was hard to have a childhood with them when they are nearly grown by the time you start school. Johnny, when you read this, just know………….I remember………..I hope you know!
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