All I Wanted to Do–“Was Get Grown”–That Grown Thing Serious.


When I was a young—-all I wanted to do was hurry up and get grown. I felt like there was a certain amount of freedom I would attain once I got out on my own. It never really entered my mind of all the responsibilities of being grown. I went with daddy to pay bills from as far back as I can remember. Payday was one of the happiest and saddest days of the month for daddy. I mentioned the words “happiest and saddest”. I must add in the word “aggravated”. He would often say as we made or rounds paying bills, “son, most of the paycheck is spent way before I even get it”. Weed, Town Square, Western Auto, Glickman, Jackson’s, and other stores had to be paid. We had credit accounts with them. What he meant was after paying them, there was hardly anything moneywise left to save.

On payday, we would get a lot of groceries. Sometimes, we got a lot of groceries at once from Town Square. Other times, daddy would buy the bulk of the groceries at Winn Dixie or A&P. He brought those with cash trying as best he could to stay out of debt. The aggravating thing about when he brought the bulk of groceries at Town Square, he still owed from groceries on another month. Groceries were always gone by the second week after payday. Daddy got paid once a month as a teacher at the Middle School. Mama didn’t work. By the third week, we were right back getting groceries on credit from Weed or Town Square.

We spent a lot of time at lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers trying to catch fish. Daddy felt like the more he could catch fish—the less we would have to go to the grocery store. Daddy was very creative with cooking the fish we caught—fish baked, fried, or steamed with baked beans, vegetables, salad, etc. It was always a struggle with us. But, we survived.

Daddy and Mama would often take chances at betting at the Dogtrack. They risked losing. But, there was also a good chance of winning. Daddy bettered their chances of winning by spending most of the day “working on that Dogbook”. He was a strategist for sure. Most people would put no serious thought into the dogs they bet/gambled on. At the most they would just go by some superstition as they good luck chances of winning. Or they would just bet at random. Many black people go to the Root Lady, carry a Lucky Rabbit’s Foot, wear a lucky shirt or something. The dogtrack was another way of Daddy and Mama trying to keep the family running.

Then, there was Uncle Spoat (The community loan shark—charging $.25 on the dollar). He was the local community bank…a one man show. If you borrowed money from him, say $100, when you paid him back, you had to pay him $125. He made money on the interest. With Uncle Spoat you could not get away with not paying him on the designated pay date. With other credit accounts, daddy might pay only 75% of the bill or only 50%…but that was not going to happen with Uncle Spoat. Spoat was going to get his…for real. He would knock on your door, follow you all over town, come to your house, hit that very distinctive truck horn until you come out with his money. When you hear that horn, you know what time it was—Spoat was there to get that paper/money.


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