Mr. Paul, Richie’s daddy, was one of the smartest lawyers in Alabama. His favorite hobby was fishing. In our 7th and 8th grade years he took Richie and me to a family member’s pond in Georgiana to fish on Wednesday afternoons.
He had an earlier 50’s Oldsmobile sedan with fishing gear in the trunk and multiple fishing rods sticking out through a back window. To look at them you would think they can never be untangled but when he laid them on the ground they magically fell apart with a little help.
We had a lot of fun Wednesday afternoons catching fish in a pond that was well hidden in a relative’s back yard. We had a great time catching bream and roughly two-pound bass.
One day we stopped at the old service station/restaurant at the big intersection on U.S. 31 east of Georgiana and had a big and really good hamburger steak. I still remember that hamburger steak. Going fishing with Mr. Paul or going anywhere with him was always a treat.
One of the fun things that we did on the way to Georgiana every Wednesday was to get Mr. Paul to clown around a little bit. We would get him to blow his horn and we would wave at folks we didn’t know.
After tedious work in the law office these Wednesday afternoons got him into a good mood. One day as we pulled up behind a school bus letting students out, I spotted Betty Boggan, one of our classmates.
She was cute as a bug and had a huge crush on Richie. I yelled at her, waved at her and told Mr. Paul that she had a crush on Richie. From that time on when we passed Betty’s house, Mr. Paul blew the horn, laughed and really enjoyed embarrassing Richie.
Sometimes Betty would be in the yard or on the porch and she would laugh and wave back. A few years later we were sorry that Betty moved away from Greenville.
On a pretty summer afternoon we rode up to Richie’s house, “kicked down our kick up stands” as per George Carlin and walked up to a front porch with 16 watermelons on it. All we could think was, “What in the world?”
Richie called his dad, told him about the watermelons and asked where they came from. Mr. Paul said, “Aw, those came from old so-and-so who I did some legal work for”.
Richie asked him what he was supposed to do with them. Mr. Paul laughed and said, “I don’t know son but payment in 16 watermelons is better than payment in 16 chickens don’t you think?” Good answer!
When we turned 15 we were able to get a drivers’ license learner’s permit which meant we could drive a car with an adult present. Richie began driving at age 15 without an adult present.
His dad had bought a 1958 Oldsmobile 88 which was the second biggest car on the road next to its sibling, the Olds 98. Richie had to sit on a law book to see over the steering wheel and the dash.
It was a big car! Not surprisingly he didn’t mind driving anywhere. Driving when we were 15 without a parent didn’t seem to bother Richie much but I surely didn’t ask about it at my house.
Often when we went out at night Richie picked me up and we went to the Rec Center which was in the back of what was then the Butler County Board of Education.
The Rec Center had some little bowling lanes with a funny name on which your opponent had to re-set what were small bowling pins. It also had shuffleboard, table tennis, cards and card tables and a juke box.
There were soft drinks and snacks at the concession stand. An adult checked us in as we entered and usually a married couple was in attendance to help with the equipment and the concessions.
It was a great idea for teenagers but a lot of time was spent with friends in cars listening to music. Or we met there and left from there for another entertainment spot, the Dairy Queen or the Big R. (to be cont.)