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Richie and Me, part 4



On a Halloween night in the late 1950s, a group of boys, seventh and eighth graders, got together to walk around on Fort Dale, Hamilton, Oak and other nearby streets.  We were too old to be trick-or-treating but were out on Halloween night.

All of a sudden a police car pulled up next to us and one of the officers said, “You boys better get in and go with us.” Our spokesmen, the soon-to-be lawyer Hartley, asked, “For what, we haven’t done anything.”

Officer Chambliss was driving and Officer Heartsille was in the passenger seat. One of them said, “Those girls up there said y’all were bothering them”.  Richie told them we had not been near those girls and that we weren’t even knocking on doors for treats.

The officers persisted but so did our future lawyer Hartley. The officers told us to leave those girls alone and drove off. Richie said it was just Chambliss and Heartsille’s way of messing with us. It wasn’t the last time. It might have been future lawyer Hartley’s first attempt at arguing with the authorities.

Speaking of Chambliss and Heartsille, one night when spending the night in Stirling’s parents’ bomb shelter, we decided to walk to town.  There was a threat of the Soviet Union firing missiles at any spot in the United States.

Cuba had not yet established ties with the Soviets but we had been trained to avoid nuclear attack.  Schools had drills where students were advised to get under their desks and cover their head with their hands.  Steve McGowin’s parents had a bomb shelter, too.

Downtown we were in front of what used to be The First National Bank when Chambliss and Heartsille drove up. Of course, the question was, “What are you boys doing?” We really weren’t doing anything but walking down the street because that’s what teenage boys without driver’s licenses did then.

They suggested we each find a seat on the fenders of their 1958 Ford police cruiser and they would take us back to Stirling’s house.  Can you imagine the police telling 5-6 teenage boys to find a seat on their police cruiser’s fenders today?

It was the police and it was a pretty long walk back to Stirling’s house so it wasn’t a tough decision.  For once, Richie didn’t argue. They dropped us off at Stirling’s driveway and as we were walking toward the bomb shelter, Randy Grayson with that sly smile of his held up the gas cap from the 1958 Ford police cruiser and said. “Do y’all think they will miss this?”  Randy, always quiet and sly, had taken a seat over the gas tank opening.

Richie and I shared a locker at the Greenville Country Club.  We had two light golf bags and a limited set of clubs. One Christmas my dad gave me a golf ball that was weighted on one side. It was for putting only and when putted it would roll heavily to the side of the weight.

Several times I put it down for my ball to putt and watched the others stare as it went far left or far right. One afternoon Richie and I went out to play golf. My weighted golf ball was all scratched and cut up. I asked Richie if he had been using my golf balls.

He said Joy and Mack had played golf out of our bags.  I could only imagine how badly one of them played using that weighted ball. It would have been fun to watch.

Richie got us an Alabama Journal paper route. It was the afternoon paper printed by The Montgomery Advertiser in Montgomery. It was for workers who had to go to work before The Advertiser arrived in the morning.

It was much thinner but still carried important news of the day. Every afternoon it was delivered by Greyhound Bus to Tom’s on South College Street. Picture if you will a half dozen boys sitting on a concrete coping on the south side of Tom’s under a tree rolling papers and slipping a rubber band over them.

After the papers were all rolled and wrapped we were off on our bikes. Up and over Park Hill and north on College Street we began to throw papers. Our route was College Street, the side streets and then Gamble Street to Stone Road and Hillcrest.

It really wasn’t work because we enjoyed riding our bikes on those streets, enjoyed being together and we enjoyed seeing so many friends as we rode through the neighborhoods. As always, there were a couple of downsides.

On Sunday we had to deliver The Montgomery Advertiser to our customers at 6 a.m. and we also had to collect monthly for the Journal. We eventually gave in to the downsides especially the collecting part but it was a good summer experience. I can always tell my grandchildren I started out not in a log cabin but as a “paperboy”.  (to be cont.)


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