My Old Home Town
Current television shows are so bad that I have taken to tuning in to the Turner Classic movie channel where I can watch old movies, or the TV- Land channel, where I can watch reruns of past shows. A few evenings ago, I was watching the old Andy Griffith show. I enjoy those shows because they bring back memories of the days when I was a kid growing up in Grace, Idaho. Sheriff Taylor’s Mayberry reminds me a great deal of the hometown of my youth. There were “Mayberrys” all across America during that period.
I’m guessing that the fictional Mayberry must have been the county seat, and not only was Andy the county sheriff, but he and Barney—his only deputy— were the town constables. This particular episode showed both Andy and Barney attending a town cultural function in the evening, and they were out of their usual uniforms, dressed in street clothes. I thought to myself, the county sheriff’s office must close at night just the same as the other businesses in town.
But then my thoughts drifted back to my childhood. When I was a kid, the village constable never kept hours in an office, never had a deputy, not one that I was aware of, anyway; and he was able to go home at night just like everybody else. The constable’s job was fairly easy because there wasn’t that much crime in our little village. You didn’t need to look for the car keys, because they were always in the car, which was always unlocked. We never locked the doors to our houses. I remember when Mom went grocery shopping during the summer, she left the doors to the house wide open.
I’m not even sure the village of Grace had a jail cell of any kind. There must have been some sort of clink, however, because I do remember the town having an “Otis” or two just as did Mayberry. Seems there was always a place where these men were put to sleep it off. And if I got a bit unruly, which I did at times, Dad would ask me how I’d like to spend a night or two in the clink.
The constable’s personal vehicle was also his so-called police car, which if my memory serves me, was a Ford or a Chevrolet pickup. Our constable never wore a uniform or a gun. All I ever remember him wearing were bib overalls. After all, a police uniform would hardly be practical attire for grading the village streets; one of his duties as city manager (no paved streets in those days).
In addition to his city manger’s duties, the Grace constable, during the 1940s, was also chief of the town’s volunteer fire department. I remember the village fire wagon was a two-wheel cart containing a large drum, around which, was wound several hundred feet of fire hose. The volunteers would hook the hose to a hydrant nearest to the fire. This limited fire-fighting equipment may have been the reason why so many houses burned to the ground. When a house did burn, however, the townspeople all pitched in and helped the occupants find another place to live.
Digging further into my memory banks, I recall one of my summer entrepreneurial ventures was a lemonade stand. Mom fixed me a big container of ice-cold lemonade, and I set up shop on Main Street. The Constable was one of my customers. (No hassle back then, about needing a business license to sell lemonade on the street corner.) My supply of lemonade was good for about a dozen glasses, which I sold for a penny a glass. When the last drop of this refreshing drink was gone, I closed shop, gathered up my profits and concentrated on other activities for the rest of the day, such as fishing or swimming.
In today’s business climate, kids would likely be penalized for obscene profits from a venture of this sort. Mother donated the entire inventory needed for my little enterprise, so my profits were 100%. Ten cents bought a lot of penny candy–when it was available. It would have been cheaper for Mom to just give me the dime, in view of the shortage of sugar during that era; but in her wisdom, she figured I’d appreciate the money more if I thought I had earned it.
Go to the free download button at upper right of this page and get a free copy of Buddy…His Trials and Treasures and read more about a young boy growing up in a small town in 1940s rural America. Here is what a couple of reviewers said about Buddy. ….Buddy will remind you of your best friend, your mischievous brother, or your son with a toad in his pocket… ….The stories in Buddy are delightful in every detail, evoking memories of childhood in an era now past…