Friendships and families stay together. He went on another trip down Memory Lane during the Christmas season when he saw Willard NeSmith and his contraption he built for great-grandson Jordan. It was an old-fashioned truck wagon. Now, I don’t know how old-fashioned it turned out but I see one thing right off that ours did not have — a steering wheel.
It took a rocket scientist to add the steering wheel with a rope running from the axel to the pole that let one’s feet guide, then up to the pole with the wheel to guide. WHEW! That was beyond our simple model. Well, after all, Willard spent all his working years with Alabama Power with a crew of men. But a little birdie told me that his wife, Kathleen, is handier with the tools than he is. At least I have seen her at the church doing plumbing jobs, electrical jobs, even climbing on the roof to repair something.
When I looked at the pictures Floyd made of the truck wagon with Willard modeling as the driver, it reminded me of the first electric train my son received for Christmas. It was about 1958 and the Teaford men could not wait for Santa to deliver the little boy’s gift. The men set up the train track and there is where most of them spent the day on the floor switching the engine, running loops, and adding a lit cigarette in the smoke stack to have an authentic puff as the train ran the track.
You know the old saying? “Boys will be boys.”
Floyd tells of those bygone years concerning the truck wagon: “Years ago, we had a truck wagon road on the hill behind where Randall Cooner now lives. It came off the hill and into my grandfather’s pasture. Some of the wagons had steering wheels on them, but the ones built in a hurry we guided with our feet on the front axel, or either a rope tied to it and we steered by pulling on the rope. Some of the boys in this group with me were Leon and Willard NeSmith, Jimmy Guthrie, Willard Guthrie, and sometimes on the weekends Pete Files joined us.
We always had a tree someplace in the road so we would have to go around it, but sometimes we did not make it and we would hit the tree. We would ride down the hill and then push the wagon back up so we could come down again. We were lucky that none of us broke any bones, but we did get lots of scratches and bruises.
“We built the wagons with Black Gum trees for our wheels and small hickory trees to saw out the axels and added scraps of any wood available. Our steering wheel attached to a broom handle, if we could find one. Old plow lines for rope (there were plenty scraps of these around the farm), and we could always borrow (steal or swipe) a little axel grease to keep the wooden wheels greased.
Many enjoyable hours were spent out doors. You never heard a child use the words ‘I’m bored!’ If you did say this, you would be given something to ‘unbore’ you in a hurry. I have often wondered why our parents would say to us, ‘Get out of the house and play outside or go to the woods.’ Maybe they were hoping we would get lost and not find our way back. (smile) Oh, well, ‘playing in the woods’ is another story.”
A note was added about pipe tobacco.
“Do you remember how the old home-grown tobacco smelled in a pipe? Uncle Darl Guthrie lived down behind us and he would take a short cut though our yard going from Mayfield’s Store (Floyd’s uncle, a Naval retiree). It seems that we could smell the smoke from his pipe for 30 minutes after he went through the yard.
My grandfather (Andrew Jackson “Jack” Guthrie) had a small tobacco crop behind the old crib and he raised enough to furnish him for a year. He would twist it after it dried and hang it in the barn. I do not remember him chewing it, but I can remember him sitting in the corner of the front room reading the paper or listening to the radio with his old pipe in his mouth.”