About the Writing

About Black Days, Black Dust

Excerpt from BDBD

Bio Stuff



Lesson Plan Ideas
24 Chapters


The Fun Side of Life ~ Chapter 6 ~ installment 2

      An old Italian fellow named Tony came through Grays Flats every Saturday morning with his horse and junk wagon. He looked at least seventy years old, and his ways tickled me. How that old horse and wagon stunk! Tony always stopped at our house first because my fine junk pile intrigued him. I anticipated a big payoff each week, but we had to bargain.
      The deal started the same every time we met. Tony climbed down from his old beat-up wagon and carefully evaluated my junk. He kicked or picked up every piece to examine it. Trying to read his face for a reaction, I spoke in a serious tone, "Tony, it's worth at least seventy-five cents."
      He never met my price. Never. His reply was always the same, "No, no, Bobby. I'll give you thirty-five cents, and you load it while I eat my sandwich." I learned that thirty-five cents was generally his top price, regardless of what I had for sale. I think Tony enjoyed our arrangement because it was so predictable and went on summer after summer. Also I kept my eye out for aluminum and copper because he snatched that stuff right away.
      After he paid me, Tony climbed back on his wagon and actually ate amongst all that stench. As my stomach turned over, I tried to save back a few pieces for the next week. He knew me. Though he was at the front of the wagon and couldn't see me, he always hollered back, "I mean load all of it, Bobby!" He must have had a mirror on that old horse.
      I accepted the thirty-five cents with gratitude. A movie cost ten cents. Bottles of pop and all candy bars cost a nickel. The candy bars were gigantic then. I'm sure the Baby Ruth was a quarter pounder. Each week I stashed at least ten cents in a sock.
      Tony never dealt in clothes. People didn't discard clothes during hard times, especially in big families. We handed them down until they were rags and then used the rags for cleaning until they disintegrated. We recycled everything out of necessity.
      Our dad's old worn-out work boots gave us great protection from snakes. While picking fruit and blackberries, we stirred up many snakes, especially blacksnakes.

Printed from the book Black Days, Black Dust, by Robert Armstead as told to S.L. Gardner,
published by the University of Tennessee Press, 2002

You'll have to wait another month for the gross, gruesome, and grim "Snake Story". Ewww! No! You don't have to wait!  

• Read Installment 1
• Read Installment 3