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
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
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
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