Teaching Me Bad Language
Uncle Roy helped spoil me when I was a small child, and I loved him dearly, as did everyone in Nell’s family. Over the years, Roy gained a very rotund tummy, but it was never as big as his heart. He was generous and quick to offer help in any way needed. Anyone visiting them was welcomed in such a warm way that they left feeling that a visit from no one else in the world would have pleased him more.
I constantly asked questions about everything when I was small, and he was patient with me, always answering them as best he could. I listened and absorbed everything I heard him say, and it sometimes got me into trouble. When I was three or four years old, I heard Uncle Roy jokingly say someone was a little devil. As soon as I went home, I put my newly learned word to use by telling a broom caught in the door, “Get out of there, you little devil, you!” Only Daddy’s intervention kept me from getting a spanking for saying a “bad” word. I had learned how to talk well, but had not yet learned how or when to keep my mouth shut. When I boasted to Mama, “Goody, Daddy didn’t let you spank me,” she jerked me up and really warmed my bottom.
Roy’s Tomato Patch
When his parents moved into the house formerly occupied by Grover Compton, his sister and brother-in-law, Rose and Jay Dobbins, moved into the one they vacated. Uncle Roy always helped plant and work the garden that was grown between these two houses each summer, and all three families shared what the garden produced. One spring, probably about 1943 or 1944 when I was about 8 or 9 years old, I went down for a weekend visit with Uncle Roy and Aunt Nell. The row of tomato plants Uncle Roy had set out were perhaps a foot high, and seemed to be doing quite well, except that there were a few weeds coming up around the plants. He offered to pay me a quarter to hoe the weeds from around them.
He showed me how to get the weeds close to the plant without damaging it by placing the back of the hoe blade close to the plant and scooping the weeds outward. Then he went into the house and I set to work trying to do exactly what he had demonstrated. I did fine on the first two or three plants, but chopped rather than scooping on the next one, and cut it off at the ground. I quickly hoed out a hole next to the root, stuck the base of the severed top down into it and mounded the soil around it to hold it upright. I was more careful with the next three or four plants, but then I miscalculated again and another plant bit the dust. I replanted that one, too, and moved on. At the end of the row, my hoe blade went through only half the stalk, so I mounded the soil up past the cut as first aid. I headed home after this hard day’s work and received my pay, neglecting to mention the two and a half casualties left behind. I’m sure Uncle Roy noticed the wilted plants before I left, but he never mentioned them.
The Hair Cut
Kay Dobbins, the daughter of Jay and Rose Hill Dobbins (Roy’s sister) was a beautiful child. When she was about four years old, Rose took her to the barbershop under the Memorial Building for a haircut. Her hair was cut into a very short pageboy style, with side swept bangs. I was then about nine or ten years old, and was visiting at Grandma Hill’s when they brought her home. I really liked the way it looked, and begged Uncle Roy to take me and get my hair cut just like that. Uncle Roy knew that Daddy and Mama preferred my hair long, and had not had it cut for a couple of years, so he refused. He said he did not want them mad at him for having it cut. When I kept begging, he announced, “I will not get you a haircut. I am giving you a quarter to spend. If you use it to get a haircut, you are doing it, not me.” He then walked with me up to the barbershop, and I asked the barber to cut my hair. When he finished, I gave him my quarter, and he gave me a peck on the cheek for sitting so still while he was cutting my hair. Of course, Daddy did not like my haircut, but since he knew it was my decision, he only got upset with me, and not with Uncle Roy.