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I went into the wrong profession

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By W.B. Evans

For years, there were two vacant lots between our house and the one where the family of building contractor Mr. Barney Gardner lived. 

Those overgrown fields were the setting for many adventures such as fighting wild animals in the jungle or standing off an Indian attack on the prairie.

But all good things eventually come to an end. One of the fields disappeared when Mr. Ned Gregory, Sr., and his wife Mrs. Lucille, built a two-story brick house next door to us.

For me, it was a learning experience. This was the first new house built in our neighborhood and I was stayed busy keeping up with all the sawing, nailing and measuring. They sure didn’t use cardboard for building material.

The Gregorys didn’t have any children for me to play with, but that changed before long with the birth of their first boy, Howell Jackson. 

That was just too much name to keep up with so we just called him Jack. Jack was quiet and pretty much played with his own toys. As he began to grow, I got the part time job of watching with him when his folks were away. 

I don’t know if my sitting skills measured up, but I got paid four bits for a couple hours of work, which was a whole lot better pay than mowing yards.

I guess I had plenty of other things to do while Jack was growing up.

Then, his new baby brother, Ned Gregory II, showed up. 

I started calling him “Little Ned” ’cause his daddy was Mr. Big Ned, for sure, and the name stuck. Other folks started callin’ him Little Ned, too.

Jack and Little Ned weren’t the only boys getting too big for their britches; I was, too.

Seeing how I was gettin’ taller, Mama decided it was time to spruce up my bedroom.

Before I came along, it wasn’t really a bedroom, at least, not by name.

Located on the back corner of the house, Daddy called it the pig room.

It wasn’t because I was messy.

“Years ago, your Uncle Harry did some legal work for a fella who paid him with two big hams,” Daddy said. “That room was the only place to store ’em.” 

 I sure was glad the room had all summer to air out before I moved in, but  Mama still wasn’t happy.  

“That wool rug still looks rather seedy when I run over it with the old Hoover,” she said.

Daddy could take a hint, so he went down to Home Furnishings at the railroad depot and found what he was looking for.

He came home with a fancy colored linoleum rug with designs suitable for the young master of the house. 

Before Mama was done, I got a new bedspread, curtains and a long glass case to display my six shooters. 

Bless Pete, that old pig room was really spruced up. I even found a place to keep one of my most treasured possessions, several tubes of air rifle ammunition. 

Wasn’t much to do with ’em since my air rifle was more for show than for action.

I had bunches of stuff, mostly because I took care of them. Lead soldiers, toy cars and trucks were stored on or in that glass case. They remained there until I entered the Air Force and my folks moved to their new home. 

Oh well, as usual, I am getting ahead of myself. 

Jack occasionally stopped by to play and had Little Ned in tow every once and a while. Unexpected visits didn’t bother me very much. I was accustomed to a young Reece Williams showing up in his pajamas so there was nothing unusual ’bout Little Ned showing up in his.

Boogers in the night were a given and so were the sounds generated by Little Ned as he played with my toys. Sometimes Aunt Bess would yell upstairs to see if Little Ned was with me after hearing a ruckus. 

Of course, I had to clean up after his visits, but he never carried anything home.

The only time he ever caused a real stir was when he dumped all the BB’s on that fancy colored linoleum rug and stomped them into the surface. 

While it left some permanent marks, I told Mama it didn’t look too bad if the light wasn’t shinning on it.

Time moved on and that second vacant lot was purchased by Mr. Harry Estridge, who was one of my former business associates.

In years past, Mr. Harry and I had an arrangement concerning the purchase of candy bars for my lemonade stand operation. 

In no time at all, he had a home, along with the beautiful floral gardens behind it.  

In looking back, it’s a wonder Congress didn’t convene on our stretch of Chesterfield Avenue, with all those lawyers and lawyers to be. Between Uncle Harry, D. Reece Williams, Jr., Howell Jackson Gregory and Ned Gregory, Jr., I was surrounded by ’em.

Maybe I should’ve pursued a legal profession rather than counting beans. I might’ve become Perry Mason, Ben Matlock, or better yet, another Francis Bell.