We were strolling down the shady path bathed in the gentle light of the sinking sun. Both barefoot, we nervously giggled as our hands touched for just a brief moment. Our eyes met and…Aunt Lillian called from the house telling us supper was ready. Hurriedly we raced to the house leaving echoes of laughter in the twilight.
Our first ever long vacation was to Missouri to visit my Aunt Lillian and Uncle Crockett. They had a farm, a huge farm with crops of cotton and soybeans. I watched Uncle Crockett as he rode the tractor through the fields. I was amazed by the strength of his arms, muscles twitching, veins straining against his skin. Then I thought…a man with only one leg would have to have strong arms to make up for the missing limb.
There was only one movie house near the farm. We went to see, In Like Flint, starring James Coburn. My sister didn’t want me to go. She was invited by my older cousins and couldn’t stand the idea of her baby sister tagging along. But I cried and pouted and Mama let me go along. I hated the movie but loved sitting in the dark theater feeling like I was grown.
David asked me to sit with him and listen to his radio. But I was afraid of him. I didn’t understand so I said no. He said I was probably tired and needed to go inside since I had such a bad sunburn. I quickly nodded and entered the house. I wish I would’ve stayed.
I met my Aunt Lillian and Uncle Crockett for the first time. I found out I had four cousins I had never met. One of my cousins had two boys and one was exactly my age. He smiled at me then ran away into the fields.
Traveling there we saw a bad car accident. It was in Georgia. It was raining hard. There was red clay sticking to everything. The man in the car was bleeding from a cut over his eye. Mama gave him some tissues to hold on his head until the ambulance came.
Somebody said there was something wrong with David. He ‘wasn’t quite right’ ever since he got out of the Navy.
She sent me the double wedding ring quilt she made soon after she was married. I have it now, folded over a chair in my room. When Uncle Crockett died she sold the farm and moved into the city.
On Sunday we rode to the general store for a sodey pop. Turns out a sodey pop is a soft drink, preferably Dr. Pepper. That was the summer I learned about putting peanuts in your drink for an extra special treat. I remember feeling disappointed when that was all we did.
Everyone was outside digesting supper and talking over the day. I slipped inside to my Uncle Crockett’s closet. I had to see the spare legs. He had a work leg with a heavy boot on it and a Sunday leg with a shiny leather shoe on it. I picked one up and it was so heavy. No wonder he went to bed so early every night…carrying that around all day would wear anyone out.
On the way to Missouri we stopped in Chattanooga and visited Lookout Mountain. We rode the incline railroad car and toured the city in a horse and wagon. My Mama sang a song about a surrey with the fringe on top. It was raining.
In the hot sun I picked a boll of cotton for a souvenir. For years it sat on my shelf enshrined in a glass bottle. I have no idea what happened to it.