As a boy of 14, I was always looking for adventure. As I look back, I am amazed that my parents let me do so much. Dad had taken a break from the coal mining business and opened a service station on the main road through Englewood, Tennessee. We moved the house trailer onto the property next to the station. After school and on the weekends I helped dad in the service station, pumping gas, repairing flats and greasing autos. Dad would often leave me alone to run the station. Some times he would even take all my friends fishing and he would say someone has to mind the store. I did not mind though because he took me fishing plenty of times.
We were only there about six months, but I have many memories from Englewood. An old lady walked south to Florida in the winter time and back north in the summer time. She pushed a cart with all her belongings and never accepted a ride. She spent some time at the station visiting and talking for quite a while.
We found a red container with a fuse in a pile of dirt behind the station one day, it looked like it had black powder in it. Dad and I tried our best to get it to go off but the fuse would not stay lit. Dad must have known that the powder and fuse was to wet.
Someone gave me an old washing machine motor while we were there and I was able to get it running. I do not know why they called the small motors washing machine motors unless they were used on the early washing machines. It had a side shaft and place for a small belt. I bolted the motor onto the back of my bicycle and attached a belt from the motor to the rear wheel with an old motor cycle belt attachment. I installed a lever on the side that I could tighten the belt with for drive. It would really fly . However, it was very heavy on the rear and hard to steer. If you got off the bike, the front wheel would come off the ground. After a while I got tired of struggling with it and wanted my old bike back. I am amazed that I didn’t kill myself on that thing.
My friends and I decided to go camping once and mom said that it was fine just don’t go too far. We packed up our blankets and snacks and headed off to wherever the road led. We even walked the railroad tracks for quite a while. When night came, we had no ideal where we were, only how to get back. We found an old barn that look like it was about to fall down, and climbed up into the second floor. Most of the floor was missing so we had to be careful not to fall through. We spent the night there and the next morning someone yelled, look what is down below! Right below us was a dead goat, he still had all of his hair, but he had been dead for a long time. I can’t remember what we did the rest of the day, but that dead goat sure stuck with me.
My second cave trip was also in Englewood, I am not sure just where. We rode our bikes out of town to this farm, one of the boys must have known about the cave. The entrance was a slide down about 20 feet into a good size room. We only had our flashlights and I don’t think that we stayed very long. I wish that I could remember where it was I would like to go back and check it out again. I do remember that there was a spring down the hill just a short way form the entrance. On the way back we spent sometime knocking down wasp nests in another barn and getting chased by them. That was always a challenge to see how many nest you could knock down without getting stung.
I had a close friend named Becky, we met at the Baptist Church where we attended. She had a steady boy friend that was keeping a close eye on whom Becky was hanging around with, but I was careful and we never had a run-in. We never got too serious but we shared a lot and we corresponded together while I was in the service. While I was visiting with her one day, a car ran over her cat. It was a really bad scene the cat was screaming and Becky was crying for me to put him out of his misery. Well I never realized just how hard it is to kill a cat and I never want to have to go through that again. We dated once after I returned from my tour in Germany, but a lot had changed for both of us and nothing developed. We lost touch after that and I often wondered if she married that farm boy in Englewood. I passed a lady on the bridge of Rich’s department store in Atlanta once many years later and could have sworn that it was Becky, however I thought it better not to try and find out.
We left Englewood in 1956 and moved to Lakeland Florida. Dad got a job as a welder in the phosphate mines there.