TNValley Wheels

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Saturday afternoon frolic

In some ways, the dog days of August left much to be desired when I was a kid growing up on a farm in the 1940s. Days were hot and dry, our dam on the branch in our pasture had long since washed away in a flash flood, and the odds were one of my brothers or I was hobbling around with a stone bruise. Our laying hens were clamoring for more water, snakes were riled up and likely to strike when their paths were crossed, and our watermelon patch was stripped clean. 

On top of that, it was next to impossible to get a good night’s sleep. What can you do to keep cool when you’re trying to sleep in a house with no air conditioning and no fans when the outside temperature is 80 degrees and the inside temperature is 85 degrees? 

One of the things you can do is make good use of the free time you have. The cotton and corn stalks are too tall to plow or hoe, and the mules have been turned out to pasture. You’re free to go fishing or camping on the creek or spend the night with a pal who sleeps in a room with a circulating fan.  

Best of all, you can spend Saturday afternoon in town turning dog days into fun days.  

Saturday morning was chore time for my brothers and me. We’d work hard to complete a bucket list of chores before dinnertime – such tasks as fetching limbs from a dogwood tree to make a broom and sweep the front yard, filling up the water toughs in the hen house, fillig up the stove wood box, shucking a bushel of corn and shelling it to feed the hens and pulling up bitter weeds in the barn lot. 

Our first order of business in town was to go to the picture show. We watched coming events, a 13-week serial and the main show. Featured actors included Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Johnny Mack Brown and Randolph Scott. We paid 10 cents each for a seat on the ground floor. Popcorn and candy bars were 5 cents each, and some pieces of candy sold for a penny each. 

Our next stop was the barbershop, where we paid 25 cents for a flattop cut.  

We looked up Bulldog McCain, the day shift policeman, to get a close look at his pistol and nightstick, and we window-shopped the 5&10 store.  

The last part of the afternoon was spent in the pool hall, slipping out the back door to hide from Bulldog as he made his round every 30 minutes.