In the early days I was living in West Rome on Armstrong Street. There was a woman who lived down the street who acted like she was so much better than most folks. She drew a check from the government each month, so she was one of the few who had money. Most of the people who lived in the area were poor but happy. If anyone needed a helping hand, someone was always willing to help.
I was a small boy at that time and even today can’t understand her dislike of me. In those days no kid talked back to older people. If I had talked back to a grown up the seat of my pants would have got a dusting. But the lady had a son about my age who didn’t listen to anything his mother said. It seemed to me she took it out on me. I never told my mother about things she did and said to me. If I had, as the old saying goes, there would have been hell to pay.
I played with her boy and got along with him. We would pitch ball to each other for hours. At that time we wanted to be base ball players. I remember one time when we were playing she came out and told me to get out of her yard. I left and her boy followed me home. We played in my yard from then on.
One day I watched a man back a truck up into her yard. He unloaded some bushes. I can remember it as if it was yesterday instead of so long ago. I was going to the store for my mother. On my way home she called out to me, the first time she ever had. “Adcock, come here.” She never called me by my first name. I hesitated. I had no intention of going into her yard. She pointed to the bushes. “I will give you $2 if you will dig holes for those bushes. Do you think you can do that?” “Yes ma’am,” I said. “Let me carry this stuff to my mother.”
I ran home as fast as I could and told my mother what I was going to do. I didn’t tell her how much money she was going to pay me. My father had passed away a few months prior to this and things were rough around our house. I knew that $2 would buy a lot of groceries. I ran back so I could get to digging.
I want you to imagine a skinny little 11 year old boy swinging a man size pick. The dirt was rough, hard packed. I kept at it and finally had the holes dug. I went up and knocked on her door. She looked out at me. “You don’t think you are though,” she said. “Yes, all the holes are dug deep enough for you to place the bushes in,” I said. “Well, put them in the holes and plant them.” She slammed the door shut.
I walked back out and looked at my blistered hands. She had said nothing about planting the bushes. But I knew that I would not get the $2 if I didn’t. I had been almost all day digging the holes. Finally I got the bushes planted and again knocked on her door. She came out and looked. “Wait and I will get your money,” she said.
It took a few minutes but she came back and handed me a dollar. I would not take it. “You promised me $2,” I said. “You, Adcock, will take this dollar, for this is all you will get.” She turned and threw the dollar at me. I heard her slam the door and yell, “Adcock, you get out of my yard or I will call the police to you.”
I picked up the dollar in my bleeding hand and left her yard. There was a field across the road from her house. I went over and sat down against a tree. The tears rolled down my cheeks. You can imagine what an 11-year-old boy with a broken heart did. I had my heart set on giving my mother that $2 to buy groceries.
After the hurt dried up and the anger took over, I began to wonder what I could do to get even with her. I went back across the street with the intent to pull the bushes out of the ground. Just as I entered the yard she came running though the door yelling at me. “I want my dollar,” I said. “I’m calling the police to you,” she yelled, running back into the house.
I went home, knowing that it would do no good to get into trouble with her. I gave the dollar to my mother and began to doctor my hands. My mother questioned me but I let on that everything was OK.
After supper I went out on the porch and fell asleep in the swing. My mother woke me up and told me to go to bed. I started around the house to the outhouse. That’s when the thought struck me. In those days there were no street lights in the area. I turned and headed for the fresh planted bushes. I began to wee wee, first around the root of the bushes and then on the leaves. I only had enough wee wee for two bushes. I hurried back home and got into bed.
I was able to water the bushes regular. I kept watch on the two bushes that was watered with wee wee. The leaves began to turn yellow and to fall off. The two bushes that had not been watered with wee wee began to bloom. The wee wee bushes died and she had them dug up and replanted. For some odd reason those two also died. While we lived there, she always had those two bushes replaced.