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I grew up being bashful, and I hated it.
I just didn’t know how to avoid being that way, but I guess many people are that way, but not finding a way to get out of it.
I never did, until the day I became editor and owner of The Wake Weekly — something I never had the slightest idea of becoming in my early years. I had an offer from my brother Bill who served in the U.S. Army under Gen. Patton’s Fifth Army and he was known as “Blood and Guts” Patton.
Bill had worked in telephone communications, and before then he started out counting traffic at certain highway places in order for state highway personnel to decide where improvements needed to be made.
It was a terribly lonesome and boring job, but Bill knew there would be better jobs along the way. This first job, although terribly boring, was the beginning step to a better position. At least that was what Bill thought. It was only a matter of time before the job Bill and others were doing, was replaced with mechanical counters by placing a cord across different highways.
One time I went out with Bill on one of these counter job locations because I found it fun at first. But soon learned it was very boring and difficult to keep your wits about you and stay awake. But Bill (10 years my senior) always seemed much older (like a dad to me) because we lost our father when I was 8 years old when Dad passed away from a heart attack, and Bill was 18 and just graduated from high school in Woodbury, New Jersey.
I always loved to work with Bill because he could keep an interesting conversation going while we were working and this always worked wonders for me. It was almost like magic to keep you alert and interested in any boring job we were doing like the boring job of pulling weeds in our large “Victory” garden. We grew and tended the garden near our home after moving from our farm home a half-mile away when dad died during the Great Depression at the early age of 48.
Bill also inherited the old (but majestic) home where my older Aunt Molly lived right close by because Bill had a way with helping people who needed it, and they usually responded by leaving something valuable to him.
Bill started on the improvement by repainting the home and I was known as the small trim painter like the baseboards and kitchen cabinets.
I was the one who mowed the well-established heavy lawn grass, but the quarter payment didn’t go far in those days — hardly enough to get a couple bottles of soda pop to cool off your sweating body.
But, you know, somehow we made it through the tough times in our lives, and we enjoyed those times much more than we expected.
Bill’s inherited old home became a treasured home place for a nice young couple with several kids which rounded out our neighborhood nicely. They were the Pancoast family.
I want to relay this to you (something I never wrote in one of my many columns though the years). When a sophomore in Glassboro New Jersey High School, I asked my mother to help me find a poem to recite in class as instructed by our new teacher that year.
She came up with a poem which started out this way: “A little peach in the orchard grew, warmed by the sun and wet by the dew,” and that’s as far as I ever got memorized. Memorization was just not one of my attributes, and each time the teacher asked if I was ready for my recital, I would respond with, “No, I’m not ready’ and I never did learn that poem and now it’s 79 years later!
Bob Allen, publisher emeritus of The Wake Weekly, invites comments at 919-556-3059 or email@example.com.