In 1943, my family became the proud owners of a new used icebox. A square box, one door, when you opened it there were two compartments, one with shelves and one at the top where a block of ice could the stored. My daddy made the trip into Decatur every Saturday to the ICE Company to purchase a block of ice. He would wrap in a burlap bag to keep it from melting during the forth-five minute trip home in Alabama’s August heat. This icebox looked like the old one without the rust looking much like a dead vine crawling up the sides and door.
My Grandpa Johnson (whom I called Mr. Johnson, that is another story), but my sister Billie called him that endearing name. Anyway, Mr. Johnson (my daddy’s daddy) hitched old Soap Sticks, our mule to a wagon taking the old icebox into the pasture throwing it into a Sink Hole.
It was the summer my ten-year-old-sister convinced me a four-year-old that she had a new game for me to play. Excited I ran to the pasture with her. All throughout our childhood she played spiteful tricks on me. This one was the promise of playing “train”, I would soon know it was another trick. We slid down into the Sink Hole, a dangerous thing to do but she was more afraid than I was. I seem to live within my own world where fear was not in my make-up; my memory is vivid from that age, a blessing or curse.
She told me that I was to be the passenger and she the Engineer. I sat down inside and she shut the door. I could hear her laughter as she ran away. Yes, the door should have been removed, but it was 1943, safety was not thought of in those days.
It was a Saturday, and normally I was with my daddy; when he remembered that he had not seen me for some time he questioned my sister as to my whereabouts. She quickly answered that she had not seen me since waking that morning. Mr. Johnson started walking through the sugarcane field next to our house and daddy rode his horse into the woods they knew that even at four the woods and fields were my playgrounds . Soon, Mr. Johnson hollered for my daddy, he heard my dog Buttercup barking in the pasture. They said my daddy road like the wind, jumping the barn and pasture-fencing heading toward the bark.
Buttercup was barking at the door, daddy jerked the icebox door open and by now, I was blue. Scared, he did not know what to do ; he got back on his horse with me across his lap and rode to a spring feed pool that was ice cold in the hottest of summer days. He laid me in the pool splashing water on my face. He said that within a few minutes I began to cough and cry. He thought I had died, and maybe I did.
While Mr. Johnson went to the Sink Hole to turn the icebox over on the door, daddy carried me into the house the first question, my mother asks calmly looking at my limp body…
“Well, has she been swimming in the catfish pond again?”
Daddy told her what happen, as he placed me on the bed my sister and I shared; mother continued to chastise me for getting my clothes wet. She looked toward my sister saying
“You have got to stop running the woods and pastures, you should try to be a lady; more like your sister”
Later, my sister smiled when no one was looking sticking her tongue out at me!
Below is my painting, an image in acrylics of our old barn and pasture.
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