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Jim's story - Page 6

Written by James Needham Groom (b.1911-)

When Stepmother died, dad had to leave me with someone, as he was busy preaching or working to make a living, so I got an opportunity to observe first hand many families, some good, but many cruel and mean. When I was between the age of three and twelve I was, of course, defenseless and a prime target for many of these surly, cruel bully boys, so I am better qualified than most to have an opinion. I expect the percentage of good and bad was the same then as now, but now no one has to stay and take abuse.

On the plus side, I remember staying with a kind, generous couple when I was about ten. They were probably in their 20ís, but looked old to a ten year old. He plowed all day and she and I hoed. She finished washing the breakfast dishes by 7:30 and we went to the cotton patch with our hoes where we worked until 11:00 when she had to cook dinner. I quit when she did and went to the house with her and helped with cooking by drawing water, lighting the fire in the kitchen stove, chopping wood, etc. Their farm was a deep sandy loam, which withstood drought much better than the red clay around Cheyenne, the nearest town. If I live to be 100, Iíll never forget the wonderful food we had out of their vegetable garden. Many things combined to increase my enjoyment of the food. Youth, an enormous appetite, first food coming after a long hard winter of scarcity, and maybe most of all, their kindness to me and my feeling of being part of the whole scheme of things and being welcome, not just tolerated until they could be rid of me.

I remember one Saturday, we three were going to Cheyenne, when the man told me that I had been a real good boy and had worked well all week and I deserved some money to spend while we were in town, but he was sorry he had nothing to give me. He and his wife fixed a large wicker basket full of fresh vegetables which she covered with some damp cloths to help them stand the two hour ride to town in the wagon. He gave me the basket and told me to sell it by going door to door in the residential section of town. He figured I could get 50 cents for it which I could spend on candy, soda pop and such. Fifty cents then was roughly equivalent to $5.00 in 1983, so it was a real generous gift from a couple who had so little.

I had never sold anything before, and I was too tired to knock on a door, so I walked up one street and down another with my basket in my hands. I didnít want to lie to the man and tell him I couldnít sell the vegetables without ever asking anyone to buy them, so I finally decided to knock on one door and ask one woman to buy them, then I could truthfully tell the man I had tried and failed. I chose a house to try and forced myself to knock. The woman of the house came to the door, saw the big basket full of fresh farm raised vegetables and snatched them out of my hands. She said "How much?" She paid me and disappeared into the house. I could have sold 200 baskets just like that if I had them. I related this little tale to illustrate that there were some kind people then, in spite of no womenís lib and other such organizations.

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