Tuesday, September 3, 2013

We ain’t got it so bad, now do we?

Part 3.

We last left guy setting at the kitchen table with nothing in his heart but relief and thankfulness, that he hadn't had to carry out his desperate plan to rob the local grocery store of enough bags of groceries to feed his family, then turn himself in to the local sheriff.
Truth was, his family and Sheriff Dan were long time friends. In fact Guy’s father and he were hunting partners. Guy knew Sheriff Dan would be more than sympathetic to their plight but also knew he’d have to put Guy in Jail on top of charging him with the serious offence of robbery with a gun, even though it wasn’t loaded.

He also knew with Lester’s job, the whole family would now have at least enough food to sustain themselves for a while longer. The few times in the past weeks when he and his brothers had time to get together, the conversation always involved what a lot of the folks around there were talking about.
Most everyone was talking about heading out west. The rumors were, there were jobs in the planting fields out California way. In fact more and more people were packing up everything they could in the back of their trucks and deserting their now worthless farms to head out west in search of a better life, or at the least enough food to live.

As fate would have it, Lester’s job only lasted a couple of weeks, Not even enough time for the meager food to begin filling in the spaces between the skin and bones their bodies were becoming all to familiar with.
That and the fact that none of Guy’s siblings or parents had found jobs drove the family into holding a meeting around the empty kitchen table on the first Sunday morning they were all available.
The discussion quickly progressed to how they were all going to pack up everything and leave the only home they’d known, which brought tears to their Mom and the girl’s eyes but only hung heads from the guys trying their best to hide their sadness and be stoic.
Most of the brothers told them they’d already made arrangements with some of their friends to go with them out west, so that made the whole process somewhat easier.

Their Mom and Dad would take the three girls with them, so that only left Guy and Lester to work out a way to travel. Luckily, they’d been working on an old beat up Ford Pickup this last year and only had tires to patch, and then they’d be ready to go also.
So during the next week, the family all pitched in to bundle everything they owned, which wasn’t much, into a small trailer their Father had built out of an old truck chassis, they would pull behind the beater family car.
Their Mom being the ever-frugal one brought out a sack of flower and a small sack of salt for each sibling. That along with some fishing string, hooks and of course their rifles and a small sack of bullets would have to be their main staples during the trip, along with what fish they could catch or game they might find along the way.

After patching the threadbare tires, Guy and Lester piled all their cloths plus a few pieces of furniture that wouldn’t fit in anyone else’s rig on top of the growing pile of stuff. About then, they watched several billowing clouds coming up the drive, they knew to be the friends of their brothers come to pick them up.
When the car and trailer, along with the trucks were loaded, they all stood looking at the crazy sight. It looked like a Mexican caravan ready to head out into a desert hoping for an oasis.
Then they stood there in relative silence squinting their eyes against the blowing dust, pretending to be lost in thought for quite a while, not quite knowing what to say or do next. Their Dad made a small speech then telling everyone they’d find each other out west but down deep they all knew this might be the last time some of them ever saw each other. Really, this would be the first time the family had truly been separated, so it felt a bit like a funeral as they finally grew close and held each other in a long and silent group hug.

Then one by one, after taking a last look back at the old now pitiful looking homestead, they all started climbing aboard.
As they each started their rigs with puffs of smoke announcing success, Eunice, one of the sisters, jumped out and ran back into the house. In just a moment she was racing back with tears streaming down her muddy face, hugging a small rag doll she had almost forgotten.

So one by one, the rag tag collection of old beat up automobiles puffed down the dirty driveway; each leaving a cloudy trail behind as their last and only testament anyone had ever lived there.
As they reached the end of the driveway and turned toward town, everyone one of them craned their necks looking out the side windows for one last glance at the home they’d very well never see again but alas, with the cars dust clouds added to the never ending dust storms, the house was gone as if never there.
Even with the price of gasoline only 10 cents a gallon, it took every last penny they’d saved for this purpose to fill all the tanks. 

They started out as a caravan but before long were separated, so Guy and Lester took turns driving as they made their way westward, riding on hope and faith they would discover a better world at it’s end.
Being farm boys and flat broke; they had created out of an old hand bicycle pump a contraption to siphon gas out of gas tanks along the way. Put one hose in a cars tank, the other in theirs and pump. They knew that was stealing but having no other way to get gasoline, it left them no choice but to bend the rules this once and pray the powers that be might forgive them.
They found the best opportunity was on Sunday’s at a country church. They would pull into the dirt parking lot next to a likely looking car and wait for the loud singing and hallelujahs to drift out of the church and then pump like crazy as long as they dared, then madly drive on their way once more.
In those days, most folks attended church, which brought up another guilt inducing but necessary opportunity. Before leaving the area, they would find a small farm with no one home and grab up a chicken from the chicken coop, which would add to their meager foodstuffs, calming their constantly growling stomachs for a few more days.

As soon as they started driving through mid-America things changed for the worse. More than once as they approached a small town on the highway, they were met on the road by a group of angry townsfolk with rifles screaming. “Get out of here you white trash! We don’t want your kind here.”
When they asked how they were to be on their way around the town, one of the men would bark. “Back a piece is a trail off to the left, turn there, then a ways further you’ll find a dirt track beside the river heading west you can take. Now Get!”

To be continued:

No comments: