What does the last week of April mean to you? To many in my hometown, it means a trip to Paris, Tennessee to the “World's Biggest Fish Fry.” Along with huge vats of perfectly-fried golden catfish, it also means a colorful parade and carnival rides.
We didn't give the fish a second thought. Just take me to the carnival. One particular year, my sister's friend Rosalynn, spent the last Friday night in April at our house. We hoped she could persuade our dad to take us to the carnival the next day. Jewell and I had tried, to no avail.
Early the next morning we nudged Rosalynn toward our dad. “Ask him,” I whispered.
Rosalynn, notorious for talking with her hands, dramatically flung them up and out as she began in her sing-song voice. “Mr. Tims, could you possibly find time to take us to the carnival? We would very much appreciate it.”
Daddy grinned and nodded. “Tell you what, girls; I got an acre of corn that needs plantin' in that bottom field.” He pointed through the kitchen window. “If you will plant that field, I'll drive you to the carnival.”
It was all the encouragement we needed. Jewell, Rosalynn and I grabbed hoes and headed down to the already-plowed field. Daddy followed with a heavy sack of corn on one shoulder and set it on the ground at the end of the middle row. “Remember what I told you. Take one short step, drop two grains, take another and drop two more grains. Keep the corn evenly spaced. When the field is planted, I will drive you girls to the Fish Fry.”
Eagerly nodding our understanding, we filled our coffee cans with corn seed. Jewell, Rosalynn and I began stepping off our selected rows, dropping the corn, and covering it with a hoe. Daddy left for the house. I took a deep breath and inhaled the scent of freshly-turned earth. Ah-h... country living.
Before Jewell and I dropped corn halfway down our first rows, Rosalynn reached the far end of hers. She waited for us then started again. Two rows later she had to refill her can.
What was she doing with all that corn? My sister and I looked at each other with a question, but we decided not to vocalize our concerns. A couple of hours later, Jewell and I had refilled our cans. Rosalynn had already refilled hers for the sixth time. With only three unplanted rows remaining, she rushed up to us with her empty can. “ Y'all got any more corn? The sack's empty.”
The sack is empty? Must have been 25 pounds of seed in it.
“We don't have much left,” I warned. “We need to make sure it's enough to finish.” Rosalynn nodded as Jewell and I divided the remainder of our grain with her. Soon we had finished the entire field.
We washed up and changed into fresh clothes before approaching Daddy. He stood up from his easy chair. “You girls ready?”
After girlish squeals, we raced out to the truck, letting the screen door slap to behind us.
True to his word, Daddy climbed behind the wheel of our rickety old Chevrolet pickup while we hopped up in the truck bed and got comfortable.
At the carnival, he gave each of us money for the rides and instructed, “I'll be back in a couple of hours. Meet me at the front gate.”
We rode the Tilt-a-Whirl, Scrambler, Ferris Wheel, and every other thrilling ride we could find. Some of them twice.
When our time was up and our money gone, Jewell, Rosalynn and I trudged to the gate where Daddy waited. Exhausted from a long day, we climbed into the bed of the truck and relaxed. I leaned back and relaxed, relishing the cool air on my face during the twenty-mile drive home.
I think it was six weeks later when Daddy and I stood in the backyard facing the bottom field. He pulled a pouch of Country Gentleman from his pocket and began to roll a cigarette. When the cigarette was rolled, he stuck it in his mouth and took a puff. His gaze drifting over the cornfield, he pointed. “I'll bet I can tell you every row Rosalynn planted.”
Scanning the corn rows, I smothered a giggle. Every third row was as crooked as the 21-curves on Highway 190 to Latham, and grew as thick as Johnson grass. In a hurry to get through and get on the road to the carnival, Rosalynn had generously strewn corn by the handfuls in the furrows.
Daddy was not smiling as he took another deep draw off his cigarette./
My novella, TO TRUST HER HEART, has a new home and a new cover. You can find it on Amazon for a great price.
Amanda must live down a scandal caused by her husband's death. His body found in the wreckage of his Porsche with a young woman wasn't bad enough. Now Amanda finds herself penniless due to his gambling obsession.