Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Never steal Pumpkins

Mr brother Roger had an unforgetable experience when we lived in Yadville Heights. Here is his story in his own words:

The street we lived on in Yardville Heights formed one side of Mr. Reed's large truck farm. The farm was about half a mile wide and about as long-perhaps 200 acres in all. From my bedroom window, I could look out over the farm nearly to Yardville a mile away.

It was a lazy summer day in late July 1943 or 1944 when the three of us Billy, Sonny and I suddenly found ourselves lounging by the edge of Mr.Reed's pumpkin patch. The pumpkin patch was on the Yardville side of the farm. We had spent most of the day playing in the woods and swamps that bordered the farm on one side and, by late afternoon, we were bored and looking for something to do.

As the country was then in the midst of WWII, playing war was a natural for us boys. And we were in luck. The pumpkins at that stage of growth were just the size of hand grenades! We promptly became engaged at tossing the "grenades" first at nothing and later at each other. Suddenly, it was Billy and I against Sonny and this led to words. Sonny got mad, so Billy and I decided to split and started across the field toward home leaving Sonny behind.

We made our way across the pumpkin patch, then across the bean field into the tomato field. As we entered the rows and rows of tomatoes, we noticed down at one end of the field a group of migrant workers picking the tomatoes under the supervision of Al Reed, the farmer's son. When Al saw us, he called to us, "Come here". We knew we were too far away to be recognized and we had a pretty good idea why he wanted to talk to us, so instead of responding to his call, we ran across the rest of the tomato field and into the corn field. The corn was high enough to shield us from view as we headed safely home.

But it turned out we were not safe. When Sonny following us across the field received a similar call from Al Reed, he immediately went over to talk to him. He then revealed our identities to Al, but used a false name for himself. Sonny always was a little dumb.

Later that evening Mr.Reed confronted my father and Billy's father about the damage that had been done to his pumpkins. We, of course, confessed and implicated Sonny as well. I'm not sure what transpired between Mr. Reed and our fathers, but I understand it was my father that suggested to Mr. Reed that it would be better if the boys could work off the debt rather than have the parents simply remunerate him for the loss. Did he have some jobs around the farm that needed to be done? Well, yes, he did!

Mr. Reed had some chicken houses that needed to be cleaned before they could be used again. In fact, he had a row of 20 or so chicken houses, each 20 by 30 feet. Most of them needed cleaning and had not been used for a year or two. Typically the floor of each of these chicken houses was covered with a 6-8 inch layer of old wet rotting straw and rotten eggs capped by a two inch crust of hardened chicken manure that could only be broken with a pick. The roosting areas were also covered with hardened chicken manure that had to be scraped off.
It took us one full day to clean one house and to shovel the straw and manure into the back of a 3/4 ton truck so it could be spread on the fields. The work was hot, extremely dusty and smelly. I don't remember now just how many days we worked on this job, but I do know we worked through August and into September because we could only work Saturdays after school started.

When we finally finished the job, Mr. Reed made us promise that we would never destroy or steal (for Halloween) any of his pumpkins again. And you know, I never did.

No comments:

Post a Comment