I sit around a lot thinking about people who have had an influence on my life down through the years. I did a story about old Jim, my fishing buddy. He would say if you let him, he will look after you. I knew that old Jim was talking about Jesus. Then there was the Colonel who would say remember that the other fellow has a feeling. Learn to respect and treat them the way you want them to treat you.
That is a good rule to follow, but it doesn’t always work. There are some people who will never treat you the way you want to be treated. No matter how good you treat them, it doesn’t matter. There are people who will look around and find someone that they can be rude and mean to. I noticed if the parents sit around the house and talk about people, their kids will pick them out to do things to. It happened in our neighborhood, where I lived in the old Fourth Ward as a kid.
We moved from West Rome to West Ninth Street. At that time the four lane Martha Berry did not exist. Where Martha Berry and Turner McCall comes together was nothing but a pot hole road and houses. Where the Floyd Hospital is now was a wheat field. A church sat on the corner of Martha Berry and Turner McCall.
Houses was about all that was in the area at that time. We moved into what was called the field. There one house sat on what was known as the short end of West Ninth. The transmission shop now sits where the house was.
West 10th still has most of the houses still standing that was there back then.
The section I am talking about runs from DeSoto Avenue to Martha Berry. The other end now has buildings where the houses sat. The corner was known as Scants. From where Martha Berry to North Fifth was were where all the bootleggers lived. You could get the stuff known as homebrew, to the good corn, to the rot gut. Buffington Row had a big fat man called Tiny that had a business you would not believe. Everyone in the area knew Tiny was rich.
Miss Lily lived on West Tenth, her back of the house faced our back. Kids from all around would come and play ball and the little girls would bring their dolls. It was a playground for the kids. There was nothing for them to play on, but they came anyway. Living in the field I soon got to know all the kids in the area. There was a group of good kids, except one.
I believe in my first book I wrote about Russell, the local bully. I found out that Russell had all the small boys in the neighborhood afraid of him. He would go out to the fence around Miss Lily’s house and shout ugly words at her. Miss Lily was a small woman. She was at the age where she wore false teeth. She was the first person that wore false teeth that I had ever seen. I thought it was great to be able to take out your teeth when you wanted to. I have found out that it’s not too much fun to be able to do so. Russell would call her the toothless one. I had heard her called old bat by him.
Now Russell didn’t like me, for when he got in our yard my mother would run him out. My mother went down to his house and told his father, but it didn’t do any good.
We hadn’t lived there long before Miss Lily was inviting our mother and the kids to have cake and ice cream with her. I ate many a piece of cake and a dish of homemade ice cream at Miss Lily’s table. If someone got sick she was the first one to come and help out. She liked to be called Lily, but us kids were taught to never call a grown person by their name. Not knowing her last name, to us kids she was Miss Lily.
I knew if Russell kept on doing what he was to Miss Lily we were going to get into a fight. Try to understand he was twice my size and older. We never got into it about Miss Lily for she passed away while we lived there. The people in the neighborhood missed Miss Lily, as did the kids.
As for Russell, that is another story. It was published in my first book. It was titled “Jingle Money.” Down though the years I have never forgotten Miss Lily. I can see her smiling as she gave cake and ice cream to the kids in the neighborhood.
Lonie Adcock of Rome is a retired Rome Police Department lieutenant. His latest book is “Fact or Fiction.”