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There's no place like home

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By Bill Evans

It had been simmering for a few days; I hit a stretch where it seems like I couldn't do anything right. It was one mess right after another.

I was all of 6 years old, with a whole year of grammar school to look back on.

Shucks, I was doing my best, but my best just didn't seem to be pleasing anybody.

I came to the conclusion that nobody loved me anymore.

That had to be it; I was getting jumped on at the supper table on a right regular basis.

They wouldn't even let me have a piece of white meat chicken and I was tired of drumsticks.

Chicken wings didn't count at the time. When I was a youngster, nobody ate fried chicken wings on purpose. Mama dumped them into the pot when she made dumplings to add flavor.

It was time for me to hit the road.

Now, planning my "great escape" wasn't easy. I had to be very careful, since most of the things this hobo-in-the-making would need were found in the kitchen. All the canned goods were stored there, and plus, the kitchen was where we always gathered to listen to the radio.

We had a downstairs living room, but nobody dared to mess it up.

You would've thought that President Roosevelt or King George was about to drop in on us, so we kept the living room presentable.

Since I had just gotten blessed out for covering my shiny red wagon with a coat of black enamel paint, I decided to use it in my getaway.

I figured if they didn't like it black, they wouldn't have to look at it after I was gone.

My mind was made up. The night before I left was restless; I just had too much on my mind. However, I didn't worry about boogers slipping around.

I figured the ideal departure time would be about eight o'clock the next morning. Daddy would be gone to work and Mama would be straightening up, making beds and so forth.

That would leave the kitchen pretty empty. And its pantry was about to be, too.

Now, if you are going to run away from home, it is best to pick the pantry supplies you like best. I chose a box of Zesta saltines, some of that thick, oily, peanut butter, two cans of Vienna sausages, a big can of pork and beans and two packs of grape "penny drink," along with a few choice slices of the Lone Ranger's favorite white bread, Merita. Everything fit in a big, brown sack.

That ought to do me for a while. I carried my sling shot along for protection and an old quilt to sleep on, too.

I eased out the door and me and my wagon cut undisturbed across neighborhood yards, so as to not arouse suspicion.

I was smart enough to know I would've been detected if I took the sidewalk. The sun was rising in the summer sky making it pretty hot.

I must've pulled that wagon for miles.

Down at the corner where Son Roddey grew up, I turned onto Market Street, but stayed on the left side of the road.

I stayed on the left side for two reasons; Grandma lived on the right side and the I wasn't allowed to cross the road.

Just when I thought everything was going good, Mr. Rodgers who was perched on the big L&C Railway locomotive saw me and gave the train whistle a tug.

Since I was always waving at him when conditions were better, he decided to tell me hello through railroad talk.

I had made it all the way down to Jacob's Hollow near the fairgrounds when I realized I was missing something.

In my haste to run away, I forgot to bring any water to make my penny drink, so I stopped by Mr. Jim Duncan's house to get some.

I knew Mr. Duncan; he was a skilled carpenter who did a lot of work for my Uncle Harry.

Seeing my wagon loaded with supplies, Mr. Duncan questioned me pretty good and issued a stern warning.

"You may run into some mean folks if you continue on," he said.

Now, Mr. Jim was a huge man, so he just picked up my wagon load of supplies and turned me around. In fact, Mr. Jim walked me all the way back to the corner of Chesterfield Avenue.

It didn't take me too long to climb the hill in front of Chesterfield Avenue Grammar School and make it to the sidewalk leading up to our front door. Mama and Aunt Bess were standing on the porch with open arms to welcome me home.

For some reason, they were really nice to me, too. I got more hugs than I did on my birthday.

It seems they had been looking for me everywhere, so they said.

Well, it was good to be back home.

Things seemed to be picking up. I managed to return my supplies to the pantry without being seen, or at least, I don't think anybody saw me.

It's a good thing the county fair wasn't in town. I may have wound up running the merry-go-round in some far-away place.

They would really miss me then and be sorry for the way they had been treating me, I thought.

On the other hand, Mr. Jim turned out to be my guardian angel.

Home is pretty sweet after all.