My heart felt lonely for Carolyn. It seemed like she didn’t have anyone to play with. Her little sister mostly played in the house like mine. I was glad to have my big sister to play with. She was almost 12 and was beginning to be more interested in other things. She could sit inside the house for hours playing Elvis records and reading. I liked being outside so the times my sister was outside with me was special.
One time when we were sitting in the fig tree my mother hollered out the back door for us to come in. She wanted us to go to the store for her. At the end of the dirt road on the other side of Carolyn’s house was the colored part of town. Right on the corner was a general store across from the colored people’s church on the other corner. On Saturdays, usually we would shop at the big grocery store in town. We enjoyed it because the butcher would give us each a cold hotdog to eat while he asked how Daddy was doing in school and how we were doing without him. But, this time Momma wanted us to go to the store to get some eggs which she had forgotten to get. Very seldom did we shop at that store and she had never sent us to it alone before.
Moonrose looked at me with big eyes when Momma asked us to go there, gave us some money and closed the door.
Moonrose insisted on carrying the money so she put it in the pocket of her shorts.
“Hurry up!” I exclaimed as I started down the dirt road.
“Hold yer britches,” Moonrose said as she bent down to pick up a rock and throw it. We walked down the middle of the dirt road kicking at rocks, raising dust. We waved at Carolyn as we walked by her house. When we got to the hard top road, I stopped to look down past the church. Nashville Baptist Church, the sign proudly said. “Everyone Welcome.”
I pushed open the screen door when we got to the front of the store and it shut with a bang behind us. Our eyes took a minute to get used to the dimness inside the store. The man behind the counter hollered “hey” at us. It was the owner, Mr. Scranton. We said “Hey” back. He asked, “Ain’t you the kids who live jus’ up the road?”
“Uh huh, our Momma wants some eggs, please,” said Moonrose.
“Here ya go. That’ll be 59 cents.” Moonrose counted out the money and as we started to leave he gave each of us a piece of butterscotch candy. I eyed the candy cigarettes and the cold soda machine with the words NEHI written on it in big red letters but I was grateful for the candy which was a special treat. He looked like he was about to say something but changed his mind. He just put his hands in his pocket and hemmed in his throat.
“Thanks,” we said together as we slammed out the screen door. Moonrose hollered “Com’ on, Melly,” as I fiddled with the wrapping on my piece of candy. “Dad gum it….I cain’t get it,” I pleaded. She helped me get the wrapper off and I ran to throw it away in the big trash dumpster that was behind the store.
“Look, M’Rose. They’s eggs in here,” I said pointing into the big trash can. She came over to see as I picked up a carton of eggs out of the trash.
“They’re all cracked,” she said after opening the carton.
“So Momma’s gonna break em anyways,” I replied. So we took them home and Momma used them. “Times are tough. We can always use extra food,” she said.
After that, every once in a while we’d run back down to see if there were any eggs in the trash and if there was, we’d bring them home. We ate a lot of eggs that summer, we had potato salad, egg salad, egg sandwiches, tuna with eggs in it, eggs in everything, even a can of spinach with eggs cooked in it would be supper. Momma said that when you need food, you can be too picky.
One time when we were out back going through the trash Mr. Scranton came up on us and asked, “What you chillen doin’? Those broken eggs might make you sick. Go on home, now.”
We ran home just to come back later. We learned to be more careful and we’d go check the trash can when Mr. Scranton wasn’t looking. From then on, we’d find some egg cartons just sitting right on top and there were always some unbroken ones in there.
to be continued.....