Along with my other “entrepreneurial” pursuits my sister, Maxine, and I started another money making enterprise. Among other crops, we grew peanuts on our farm which led to Maxine and I entering a joint venture where we would pull up peanuts, boil them in a black iron pot that Mom used to wash clothes, bag the peanuts into small paper bags and get them ready for sale. Then, it was my job on Saturday to take these bags of boiled peanuts to town, Screven, Ga. and sell them to the people who would come in to buy groceries and shop for other items needed on the farms. Saturday was also a “social time” to catch up on gossip and happenings in the surrounding community. So this was a good time for me to sell our peanuts which I sold for $.05 per bag.
When sales were good, I usually would sell all the peanuts we had bagged in perhaps an hour or so and then it was time for me to get a hot dog from Mrs. Carrie Meadow’s hot dog stand which exuded an aroma that I could smell seemingly two blocks away. I could hardly wait to get one of her delicious hot dogs with mustard, cold slaw that she had prepared along with a healthy dash of ketchup. I didn’t always do this, but when we had made as much as perhaps $2.00 in sales, then I might buy a hot dog. They were so good and everyone could smell those hot dogs blocks away from her street side hot dog stand.
One Saturday after I sold the peanuts rather rapidly, I had time to spend in town, so I went into the drug store to get a fountain soda. The sodas were drawn by a “soda jerk” from a spigot behind the marble topped counter. There were high stools where I could sit and enjoy the soda. As I walked into the store, something else caught my eye. I saw a slot machine that was prominently displayed near the front of the store and I decided that I should increase Maxine and my earnings by playing the slot. And I began to play it. Soon, I had lost all our money, and I had not yet gotten a soda.
Everything went along pretty well even when I walked home and told Maxine I had “lost the money”. She didn’t seem to mind, and did not question “how” I lost the money. When our Father returned from work that night, late as he usually was, he asked me about the money. I told him I had lost it—without any explanation as to how. I was relieved I had gotten through that with no difficulty. A couple of days later, Dad asked me again about the money and again I stated I had lost it.
He replied, “Yes you lost it and I know how you lost it—you lost it playing the slot machine in the drug store.” I could not deny it. He then said, “Let’s go out back behind the kitchen.” There was a large peach tree in the yard. I knew I was in trouble as I watched him cut a fairly large limb from the tree. He then beat my backside something terrible all the while explaining that he would teach me to tell the whole truth when asked. Adding insult to injury, my maternal grandmother had arrived for a visit the day before. I was devastated that she knew what I had done, and it made this whipping all the more embarrassing. You see, I was her oldest grandchild, and had always had special privileges with her. I couldn’t help but wonder why my Dad needed to whip me in front of my grandmother.
Yet, that single experience lasted me a life time. I learned that “not telling the whole truth” was, in effect, lying. When I was in Officer Candidate School Commissioning Program, I saw other classmates suffer consequences due to their lack of full disclosure. My Father taught me a great moral and ethical lesson in life. I never forgotten the experience.
Maybe the whipping was necessary, after all.