Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New Friends...

After a while I began to make friends, aside from Sissy and Sonny Runyan, in the Airport District.I guess the first one was a boy named Donald Steely. He lived on Hillside Drive, two blocks south and a half block west of me. I don’t remember just how we got acquainted, I suppose just from being in the same neighborhood. His dad was a carpenter and he lived in a much nicer house than I did. I saw it a couple of years ago and it seemed much smaller than it did when I was a kid. His family was the first I knew of to have a telephone in our neighborhood. I still remember his number-5813J. Our first number was Lambert 23474. That was much later.
Donald was a cocky kid and thought he was tough and liked to show it. I guess my reputation for toughness preceded me because he never wanted to try me out in a fight. His mother was Juanita, a friendly lady and his dad was Ben, a friendly man. He had two brothers, Freddie and Gary David. His house always had a lawn and he kept it trimmed. His family was financially much better off than mine but that seemed not to matter. We played together and went to the river together. Donald could be braver than most because he always had an uncle around.

His dad’s brother, Jack, was there a lot of the time. He was about five years older than we kids were. He was a nice fellow and liked to be around Don and his friends. His other uncle, A J ‘Jake’ Redman, was also there sometimes. He was Juanita’s brother from Richmond and he had a reputation for being extremely tough.
Another friend I made was Utah Stephens. His real name was Carl Laverll but his Grandpa who raised him called him Utah and so that was his name. I think he took that from the old cowboy song,” Utah Carroll.”
The first time I saw Utah was one day when he was walking by my house. I said something to him and he gave me an answer I didn’t like so I took a poke at him on the shoulder. He wasn’t sure what to do so he went home. A little later I was skating on the road in front of the house and a girl walked up to me and asked if I was the one who was picking on her little brother. I said I was and she grabbed me around the neck and started punching me in the face. I struggled to fight back but, because I had on the skates, I couldn’t get a foothold. I also couldn’t stand up so she finally had to let me go because I was too heavy for her to hold up.
As I sat on the road taking my skates off, she left and told me not to pick on her brother anymore. I just cussed her and by the time I got my skates off, she was gone. Later that day I saw Donald Steely and told him about my run-in with Utah and his sister. Don said Utah was a good guy, new in the neighborhood, and his sister’s name was Merrilee. So the next time I saw Utah, we made friends. He was and still is a good guy and in later life we had some adventures together. Merrilee remained tough for as long as I can remember.
Utah was raised by his Grandpa and Grandma. He had a sister, Merrilee, and later she had a son who was raised by Pop Hampton, her grandpa. Pop Hampton’s name was Van Hampton. He lived to be about ninety-five years old.
The thing I remember about Pop and Mom Hampton was that they were very nice and quiet. Pop Hampton chewed a tobacco called Cotton Boll Twist. It was a bulk tobacco that was twisted in a rope and dried and cured. He would cut a piece from it with his pocketknife and chew it and spit in a can that was kept nearby. He was the first in the neighborhood to get a television set. That was about 1947. It was a 17-inch and his favorite program was championship wrestling. When we could, all of us kids and some other neighbors went to his house to watch wrestling on TV. It was a real treat. He doted on his grandkids and they loved him and Mom Hampton.
Another of my very first friends was Eugene Burgin. He lived on Hillside drive with his sisters and his mother and step-dad, Leonard Burgin. Eugene was a couple of years older than I was but he ran around with some of the same kids that I did, including me. He was a really good worker. He had a bunch of pigs he raised in his back yard, which was converted to a pigsty. Every morning before school, Eugene would make the rounds of the entire neighborhood and collect garbage for his pigs. He set it up with almost all the people in the neighborhood to save all their slop for him and he made his rounds every morning without fail, pulling a wagon with several large cans on it to hold the slop. He was always a good worker and, after he got old enough to drive a car, always earned his own money to service and drive it. I’ll have another story about these boys later on in this story.
Later I became friends with Gene’s uncle, Merle Burgin. Merle was younger than Eugene and Eugene didn’t call him, ‘uncle.’ We didn’t encourage Merle to go places with us. He seemed too young although he was almost my age.
I was a fat kid and, after a while, I began to be called,” Fat James,” by the kids and later by grownups, too. I resented it at first and had a few fistfights with some of the boys but, after the grownups started to think that was my name, I got used to it. None of my family or relatives called me Fat James. As it turned out, I was unique in my name and position in the neighborhood.

Later...

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Polio Scare… Banishment from the River...

I'll make this post a bit smaller than the last one. It'll be easier to read.

I spent so much time at the river, it was like my Guardian Angel lived there. She would never let anything really bad happen to me as long as I put my fate in her hands. Of course, at that time of my life, being a child, I didn’t fully understand the importance of her presence in my life but there must have been a vague realization of that important presence in the dark recess of my mind because I continually did things that brought me to the brink of disaster. I’ll tell of some of them later.
Grownups, of course, do not understand about such things as Guardian Angels and where they live and why they are there so they sometimes do things that attempt to interfere with the irrevocable scheme of life. My Mother and the Polio Scare was one of those things.
At one period the dreaded virus that caused polio was rampant in the United States. There were so many stories about how the virus was spread that no one knew just what to do to keep from getting the disease so everyone tried everything. Mother’s rumor that she believed was that polio was spread mostly by dirty water. She immediately set about to assure that my family and I wouldn’t have a chance of catching it from water, especially the dreaded river water. She ordered all of us kids to stay far away from the river on the penalty of death, either from the water if we went in the river or from her if we went in the river and survived. She was terrified of us catching polio from the river water.

The subject came up every morning before she went to work and in the evening when she came home. Mother always worked and so during the day she had no control over us. I, of course, headed for the river as soon as Mom left for work. I would spend the day at the river, swimming and playing, then try to be home before mother got home. As soon as she came home she would ask me if I had been swimming in the river. Of course I would say no. Sometimes she believed me and sometimes she wouldn’t. Once when I got there a little later than Mom, she saw by my red eyes (they get that way from being open under water) I had been in the river and made me strip and take a bath in a number three bath tub. It was very embarrassing to be bathed by my mother in the front yard. As luck would have it, while I was being bathed in the raw, a girl I knew walked in front of the house and saw me. She pretended not to notice and I pretended not to notice her. I saw her later many times but she never mentioned my spectacle.

Sometimes Joan and I would swim in the canal at the corner where the bus stop was. When mother came home we would try to be the first to tell her on the other. Whoever got to her first, claimed to have been pushed in by the other. The accused got a whipping most of the time. I sometimes wondered how mother stood it, knowing she should believe one of us but knowing we both lied. I think it was a ritual with her; believe one then the other, that way it was more fair to both of us and she felt like she was keeping us from dying from polio.

After a while a vaccine was discovered for the dreaded disease and we were once more allowed to go in the river. I had never stopped anyhow. I knew something or someone would always protect me while I was in the river. Even from polio. The river was my friend.

Mother worked always and while she worked, we kids were left alone. In those days kids being left to fend for themselves while their parents worked wasn’t unusual or frowned upon by others. We were always poor by most standards and learned very early that we must care for ourselves or it wouldn’t get done. Caring for ourselves wasn’t something that ever was considered good or bad. It just was our way of life. A parent worked and kids kept out of trouble and managed.

At one time we had a trailer house at the side of the house. My bed was in it and so was a washing machine. Mother would get up in the morning and usually wash and hang out a load of clothes and then wake me for school. One time when I was eight years old and in the third grade, I had been extra sick with a sore throat and had stayed home a couple of days. Having to stay home with it made my sore throat serious enough to do more about than just treat it. Mother decided I needed to have my tonsils removed so as soon as my throat got well, she arranged with the hospital to do the job. I wasn’t aware of it until the day before it was to happen.
Mother washed a load of clothes and hung them out and woke me up. She told me to get up and get dressed and at ten o’clock take the bus to the La Loma Church of Christ bus stop and walk from there (it was only a few blocks) to the hospital. She said to be there by ten thirty, that they were expecting me. I did it and when I walked up to the hospital door, a nurse met me and said,” You must be James,” and I said I was. She took me to a bed and had me get undressed. I was sedated with gas and moved into the operating room where the offending glands were removed.

That would have been the end of it except the gas made me violently sick. I tried to throw up but my throat was too sore. I couldn’t take water so the nurse gave me ice to suck on. The whole thing didn’t go well at all. When Mother came by for me that evening, the doctor told her I should stay the night so she left me there. Later that night I managed to eat some ice cream and that helped some. The next day Mother came by and got me when she got off work and took me home.

It’s amazing, you might say, that an eight-year-old child would be made to do such a thing on his own. It not only isn’t amazing, it wasn’t at all unusual for something like that to take place. I doubt it even occurred to mother that I might not be able to do as I was told. This wasn’t playing; it was something that needed to be done. It was important. Mother always knew us kids could do whatever was necessary to manage for ourselves. I am always complimented when I think of the confidence Mother had in the other kids and me. Any good in us now must have been instilled by events such as that, events that allowed us to make decisions on our own and not question them any more than our Mother did.
I went to Wilson School in my third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades. I remember some of my teachers. Miss Crews was one, then Miss Cross. The one I remember mostly is Mrs. Eisenhut. She was my sixth grade teacher. Not much exciting or worth remembering happened there. I ditched school a lot.
I remember when we studied Mexican history. We made paper mache animals and made a pi├▒ata and things out of straw. At the end of the study we ate enchiladas and tamales. I had to have sixty-five cents to pay for my meal. Mother didn’t have all of it to give me and I had to sell pop bottles to get the rest I needed. I recall I didn’t think it was worth it after we ate and wished I’d ditched and used the money for something else.

In my music class we bought small flute-like instruments called Symphonets and learned to play them. I got pretty good at it. We made up a little class band and had a good time. After I started Junior High, the music teacher there asked if anyone wanted to be in the band and I said yes. I brought my Symphonet to school and the teacher said I needed a real instrument, that the one I had was a toy. Every one got a laugh out of that. I was embarrassed and left the room and went home and threw the flute away.

Not much happened at Wilson School that is worth mentioning. I never made any close friends there. The main thing I remember about Wilson School is ditching school and having the truant officer come to the house. Mother always acted as if she could hardly believe I had played hooky from school. She knew how easy the schoolwork was for me and had trouble believing I’d miss school on purpose. I never got real good grades, mostly Cs, average and an occasional F. MY best grades were in music and English which were both extremely easy for me. Reading was easy and grammar, both of which came under the subject of English. I barely glanced at words to study for spelling and never missed one in a test. I can remember only a few names of my classmates and there is no reason to mention them in this journal.

The one thing I remember is something I mentioned earlier, buying Double Bubble gum at a drug store for a penny a piece and reselling it at school for up to a quarter a piece. I stopped doing this when another boy got caught doing the same thing and was suspended from school. He didn’t tell on me so I got away with it.

I remember going to a special fifth grade class for a short period of time at Wilson. I can’t recall why I went to this class for such a short period of time but I remember that it was made up mostly of kids from Little Okie and it stunk. I guess it was because the kids there were from homes, most of which had no inside toilets or bathing facilities, including mine. The kids stunk and the room stunk from the unwashed kids. I didn’t stay in that class for long. I don’t remember why. Maybe it stunk too much.

I remember times when I would get the itch (scabies) from someone or the other or just from the neighborhood and mother would mix up sulfur and grease and smear it all over me. I remember going to school with the yellow stuff under every part of my clothing. I was very careful to keep my sleeves pulled down, hoping the other kids wouldn’t notice. It never worked and I got laughed at a lot, not loudly though. I scrapped a lot in those days, mostly because of my environment.

Being Poor…

I guess being ‘poor’ is really a state of mind. My family was extremely poor and we knew it but I don’t remember feeling poor. I was aware that I never was given toys as a child and never had much of anything I could call playthings. Occasionally I was given a toy car and I cherished it and would play with it for hours, making roads in the dirt and having a terrifically good time. I can right now remember the feeling of pleasure I had playing with those toy cars. Once I got a toy truck that had a dump bed that actually dumped. It was a very sturdy truck, made of heavy metal; A Cadillac of trucks by today’s standards and I hauled tons of dirt with it. I seem to remember getting some building blocks at some time or other. I don’t remember being thrilled with that present. I’ve never been much of a builder of things.

Even after saying all of this about being poor, I don’t recall any of us ever mentioning or even thinking about ourselves as ‘poor’. When school started, we were given a few new pairs if pants or dresses for the girls and underwear and a new pair of shoes and some socks and these things were to last all year until school started next year. Birthdays and Christmas gifts were always clothes. I never wore shoes, even to school, until the weather got really bad and I was forced by Mother or a teacher to wear them.

The first time I can remember feeling poor was when I was in the ninth grade at Modesto High School. I briefly became a member of the FFA, Future Farmers of America, and as part of our lessons, we raised animals or chickens or some other farm animal. I raised Bantam chickens, a rooster and several hens, and had a coop in the back yard. One day we all loaded on a bus to tour our homes to see each child’s project. We went to several homes of some of the other kids first and I saw very nice homes and orderly animal shelters and corrals and saw no homes with outside toilets. Everything was immaculate and looked new and wonderful to me. When we finally reached my house, I began to wish I had stayed home that day.

The bus pulled up in front of the house and the kids began to unload and look around. They saw the shack and the outhouse and the dirty yard and the chicken-coop and I felt very small. No one said a disparaging word or made any comment when I showed them my project. They were very nice kids, mostly farm kids, and very polite, but I could feel the tension among them, even the teacher. It was very likely their first encounter with an Okie home.
When we got back to school, we briefly discussed some of the more elaborate projects and class was out. I never went back to that class. I transferred to a shop class. I was asked why I wanted the transfer and I said it was because I didn’t want to be a farmer and that was good enough for the school. I think the teacher probably already knew what had happened and why I wouldn't go back to the FFA classroom.

I'll stop this for now.
Later…

Sunday, April 4, 2010

CHAPTER SIX…Growing Up…

Growing up at 911 South Conejo Avenue, Modesto, California was as hard as it was easy. I stayed a child for a long time but grew up long before I should have. That sounds screwy I know, but you had to be there to appreciate and understand it. It will be hard to list my life in a straight line as far as years of age goes, but I’ll try.


Meeting Sonny and Sissy helped me get used to the neighborhood. They were very friendly kids and easy to know. Sissy was as skinny as a toothpick and never wore a top in the summertime; I guess because she had no top, not even (she said) after she grew up.
I spoke to her on the phone in 1992 when I was down in Modesto at a Little Okie Reunion at the Legion Hall. I wondered about her and found her older brother, James', number in the phone book and called him and he gave me her number. She was surprised and happy to talk to me and we talked over old times for a while.
She said,” James, I am a grandmother now and have finally gained a little weight. My daughter told me that I even have a bosom now!” That was good for a laugh from both of us.

Sonny was the fastest runner in the neighborhood and a pretty good swimmer. Sissy’s claim to fame was the amount of water she could blow out of her nose when she came up out of the water when we were swimming in the river. It was unbelievable!

Sonny and Sissy came to my house occasionally but I was allowed in their house only to trade funny books. Their Dad was very strict about that. Their house always smelled of fried baloney, which was what they took to school for lunch about every day.
Their Dad had a girlfriend in South Modesto, and he walked over there most evenings after work. I never knew what he did for a living. He had three other sons, Paul, James and Theo. Paul was a huge fellow and James was about average size and I don’t remember ever seeing Theo. He lived on the other side of town somewhere.

Sonny and I traded funny books every now and again, after either of us had traded with someone else. Trading funny books was a very important part of our lives. Almost as important as was reading them. The main funny books I read were Superman, Captain Marvel, Batman, Plastic Man, Joe Palooka, Wonder Woman, Archie and Tarzan of the Apes. Later others emerged such as Spiderman, the Green Hornet, Dick Tracey and the Classics Comics Series which told of historic events. There were some spin-offs such as Humphrey, a spin-off from Joe Palooka and B. O. Plenty, a spin-off from Dick Tracey. The magazines of those early days were Saturday Evening Post, Colliers and Life and the pocket sized books, Pageant, Coronet and Reader’s Digest.

We, also, played marbles. Most of the kids in that time of our lives shot marbles. We had plain marbles and shooters. The shooters were larger than the plain marbles and some of them were denser. Some people called the shooters, taws. I was a pretty good shooter and usually had more marbles than most of the other kids. We traded marbles, too. With the plain marbles, they were traded mostly one for one. If I had one the other guy liked and he had one I wanted, we’d trade. If you wanted a shooter, you had to trade several plain marbles for one shooter. The number depended on how good the shooter was and how badly you wanted it. You could use steely balls for shooters but most kids wouldn’t play against a steely ball. It was considered not fair to use a steely.

We also played tops. The tops were regular tops with the point filed down to a sharp point. These were called,” Spikers.” The object of the spikers was to have a contest to see who could spike a top that was already spinning on the ground. If you were good at it (and I was) you could throw your top at the one on the ground and split it or chip a piece off it with your spiker. It was considered cool to have a chip or two off your spiker. After a while, word got around about who was good at spiking and then it would be hard to get anyone to accept the challenge to spike.

We, also, played,” Mumble-de-peg.” That is played with a pocketknife. Your knife is stuck into the ground from a certain distance. The blade is open and placed on various parts of your arms and hands. Then your right finger is placed atop the knife handle and the knife is flipped toward the ground and must stick to stay in the ground. You start on your finger, then your knuckle, then your hand, wrist and on and on until someone misses. When someone misses, the other person takes a small peg and barely sticks it into the ground, just so it will stand up. Then the winner gets one smack with the handle of his knife to drive the peg into the ground. Then the looser has to pull it out with his teeth. It is quite a game.(Some called the game, ‘root the peg.’)


Another game that was popular when I was a kid (many, many, many years ago) was Indian Wrestling. Two people, usually boys or men, would lie on their backs side by side but in opposite directions, with their waistlines at about the same spot. Then, on a signal from someone or just a mutual sign, they would raise their legs next to the others straight up and let it drop three times. Then on the fourth time up, each player would attempt to lock his leg around the leg of the other and flip him over. The one who flipped the other was the winner. Physical strength had little to do with the outcome. It is a skill game that depends on timing.

And, of course, the most popular game of all with most boys in different families was putting on the boxing gloves. If there were boys of close to the same age and size in visiting families, they would invariably put on the gloves and square off against each other. It was a family affair and the kids and grownups alike usually enjoyed the event.
The gloves were sixteen-ounce gloves and rarely did anyone get hurt. Occasionally some of the grown men put them on and scrapped some. The only rule was no one could get mad. If you were getting the best of the other guy, it showed class to find an excuse to rest or stop, and if the other fellow was getting the best of you, it was no disgrace to seek a rest and ask for a mutual stoppage of the fight.
My stepbrother, Floyd, and I put the gloves on regularly until he finally outgrew me and I had trouble reaching him with my punches. At that time in our lives we just stopped putting on the gloves and we never missed it.

The girls played mostly Jacks, Paper Dolls , jump rope or hopscotch. Sometimes the boys played jump rope and hopscotch. I remember when we lived above Pate’s Store on South 9th Street, my sister, Mickey had a ton of paper dolls. I think Joan and Eva played with them some, too, but it was Mickey who enjoyed them the most. Mother would buy groceries that were wrapped in such a way so the wrappers had paper dolls printed on them. Then Mickey would cut them out and wait for the next package that had the doll clothes for her dolls. I don’t remember her dolls’ names. I think they were Tillie the Toiler, Fritzy Ritz, Betty Grable, Dorothy Lamour and some others that were popular during the war.

Joan was the best at jacks. I recall her playing for so long without missing that I actually got tired of watching. Eva wasn’t as much of a game player as the other girls. Neither was Buddy. Buddy was always a good worker. When we lived in Merced, Buddy at age about 14 or 15 set pins in a bowling alley after school and made enough money to buy a new Schwinn Bicycle. He had it for years and rode it everywhere.

When we first moved to the Airport District (Little Okie) Mother worked at Hedley Hospital. Hedley Hospital had been a mental hospital before the war and during the war, it became a V A Hospital. I don’t know just when the changeover was made, to VA then back to mental but she worked there for some of both applications.
The main thing I remember about Mom working there was that she would sometimes bring home food. It was usually turkey. We would have it for our meals. And kids sometimes would kid me about my Mother working at the nut house. I had a few fights about that at first. Then Mother told me to stop fighting about it, that it was nothing to be ashamed of, so I stopped.

Shortly after we moved on South Conejo Avenue, Mom got word her brother, Bill, who was the baby of the family, had been killed at sea. He was in the US Navy in World War Two.

I remember Dad being there for a while. He and Mother never got along. Dad worked as a gardener around town. He had no formal education and never thought he could work at any kind of a good, steady job so he lined up what yard work he could and made regular rounds for a lot of people. I thought it was a pretty good job. If I was ever asked what my Dad did for a living (and I was a few times) I would said he was a Professional Gardener.

I was pretty sticky-fingered when I was a kid. We never had more than the bare necessities and money was hard to come by. If I wanted something and found a way to do it, I stole it from wherever I could find it. That was the only way I could ever have anything. I almost always got caught.
When I did get caught, I was taken to the Detention Home. Then mother would be called to come after me. I don’t know if she ever had to make restitution for what I had stolen. She would have if asked to. She never believed in taking anything for nothing. Mother always worked steadier than Dad to try to care for the other kids and me.

When I was eight years old, I met a kid in the neighborhood named William Bryant. He was fresh out of Oklahoma and had about as much nerve as I had. We plotted and carried out a burglary of Rollers’ Store. We broke in and stole cigarettes (neither of us smoked) and candy and soda pop. I don’t think we found any money. We, of course, got caught. I can’t remember what tipped everyone off but we were caught right away.
The police came out and took me to the detention home for the first time. Mom had to come and get me and I had to apologize to Mr. and Mrs. Roller. Mom blames ‘That William Bryant ’ for leading me astray and the Bryants blamed me. I never played with William Bryant again after that.
He had a big brother we called Junior Bryant.

A lot of Bryants lived in Little Okie. The one I knew later was Barbara Bryant. She was about my age and very friendly.

I stayed away from the store for a while then went back to buying apples and grab bags.
Grab bags were small sacks of assorted candies and favors; usually a plastic ring with a propeller that whistled when you blew on it. They were from a nickel to a quarter each depending on how much was in the bag.

Another popular item was a wax bubble filled with koolaide. They were shaped into different images; Elephants, Rhinos and the like. Each was a penny or two. You put it into your mouth and crushed it with your teeth and drank the koolaide and then chewed the wax like gum. There were a lot of little candies you could buy for a penny in those days.

The most popular was Fleers Double Bubble Gum. Each piece was wrapped in a small comic story of some kind. It was excellent quality and the flavor lasted a long time and the gum lasted for as long as you wanted to chew it.
It was a penny apiece and was very scarce after the war started. When I was in the fifth and sixth grades, I would go to a drug store on Yosemite Boulevard on a certain day each week and wait for the bubble gum delivery. If I was lucky enough to be there when the delivery was made, I would buy all I could afford (usually a quarters worth or so) and keep out ten pieces for myself and go to the school and sell the rest for a quarter apiece. It was in demand at school and I never had trouble selling all of it. I got a lot of spending money that way.

The Strand Theater was the main theater in Modesto. On weekends it would show feature pictures and comedies from nine in the morning until two am the next day.(If you stayed for the midnight show)
Sometimes there would be an amateur hour where people would go on stage and sing or dance or something. Prizes were given for the most applause. Sometimes there was a door prize given for the patrons, usually a dish of some kind. Sometimes your ticket stub would be put in a giant wire tub and the tub would be taken to the stage. Someone from the audience would be selected to spin the tub and a stub would be picked out. The one picked would be the winning number and that person would win a prize, a nice dish or something else.

In those days a quarter went a long ways. I could ride the bus to town and go to the show and get a bag of popcorn and ride the bus back with a quarter and have a penny left over for bubble gum.

Sometimes some of us kids would go around to the back of the theater and climb up to a window to the ladies’ room, and if we were very careful and watched for a time when the show was the most exciting and the room was empty, crawl through a tear in the screen and sneak out into the movie for nothing. This was a very common practice and I don’t remember anyone ever getting caught. I wonder if they knew about it and just let us do it. Not too many kids knew about that way in.

My mother was always worried and I usually got a whipping for being gone all night but I was not deterred. If I had a whipping coming, I took it and waited for the next time.

I spent many nights on the river alone. At first Mom would come looking for me and, once in a while, she would find me and whip me all the way home, as well as she could at a dead run.
Once in a while I would get hurt some way and her worries would seem justified. Once I was swimming at the pipe when the water was pretty low. I crawled along on the sandy bottom on my hands and knees. Just my luck, this time, someone had thrown a broken bottle in right there and my knee came down on it and it cut a huge gash in my right knee. I got out of the water with my knee bleeding like a stuck pig and started for home. I didn’t have anything to wrap around it so I just held my hand over it. Blood was everywhere.
Just then a lady came by in a car and saw me and almost panicked. She screamed for me to get in the car so she could take me to the hospital. She wrapped a cloth bag around it and started driving. When we came to the house, I told her that was where I lived and to stop. I almost didn’t tell her because I knew what Mother would do to me after she fixed my knee. But the lady did stop and Mother came running out and saw me. She thanked the lady and took me into the house.
By now most of the bleeding had stopped. It was a huge gash (about three inches long and to the bone-I still have the scar) and Mom cleaned it out with alcohol and, after the bleeding had completely stopped, put some Merthiolate on it and wrapped it in a bandage.
For some reason, to this day I don’t understand, she didn’t whip me. It bothered me for several days, both my knee being sore and not getting a whipping.
But I recall I was back in the river before the knee healed up all the way. It seemed I was always in the river.

I'll stop here and resume this later so it won't be too long.

Later...