Just some thoughts:
I grew up in rural southwestern Indiana.
Actual grew up in a very small community about nine miles south of Terre Haute. I once tried to look up the population of my little community and I could not fine it, was not listed.
I’m not sure who it was but it was somebody famous I’m sure who said:
“I feel bad and its unfortunate for anyone who did not grow up in rural America.” Now I am sure I have friends that would immediately take me to task on that.
When a boy grows up in a rural setting he goes to work early and over the time of his youth will have many jobs. Most rural boys first job or responsibility of any means is cutting grass. I did that starting at about age eight or nine. Cut Ruth Williams yard .50 cents, Grandma Shepard’s yard .65 cents. (I think she just wanted to say she paid more that her neighbors) From that such jobs as putting up hay, driving a tractor etc. Then at age fifteen started working in a bank wrapping coins. I sure wish all my grandson’s had the opportunity to put up hay. They have no idea.
One of the jobs I had as a kid involved us living next door to the local grocery store. One of my first jobs was early every morning I would go to that store and see that the milk was placed in the big refrigerator. The milk delivery came before the store opened generally around 5 A.M. So someone would take it off the steps of the store and put it in the refrigerator. Likewise with the bread delivery. So every morning before school I went to the store and did work.
A local grocery store in small towns, villages were also gathering places. This old store was first heated by a big coal stove. Behind the stove would be a few chairs, a small table and a checker board. There are enough stories from that setting to fill a small book.
In small communities there would be a cast of characters, With names like Roy Lee, Duck, Donald Ray, Skates, Old Tom, Duffy, Diz and of others. We had this one guy, kinda a Ole’ Rivers, Walter Brennan type. In recent times I have began to think more about him. This one ole boy would come in most mornings. First thing he would do is go to the soda cooler. That’s where the “pop” was kept. He would get himself a big RC cola. He would always greet me and everyone else but he would not call me by my name. He called me, “Lester.”
One morning ( I am no more than twelve or thirteen years old) I said to him, “My name’s not Lester, my name’s Larry.” He paused, look at me with a bit of tobacco juice coming from corner of his mouth, half pointed, half grinning and said to me, ” Right, well Lester.. the way I figure it…its always good when a fella knows his name.”
That morning when he left Junior (Jr) who managed the store said to me, “Larry don’t worry about him…he can’t remember anyone’s name anymore that’s why he just calls everyone Lester.” I thought that a bit weird. Guy can’t remember another’s name. I began to notice the next times he came around and Jr. was correct, he called everyone Lester.
Well I’ve got a confession to make. Yes, you are ahead of me, aren’t you.
The other day I told my wife ……I’m getting closer to where sometimes I think I’d best just call the person…. “LESTER.”
June 8, 2018