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Kountry Life Memories

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When I was a little girl, only about seven years old, my Paw-Paw worked for the Highway Department. He was the night watchman at the 'pit yard', which is where they kept all their gravel pits and tar trucks. They had a tiny little 'travel trailer' set up out in front of the pit yard, right behind and to the side of the big swinging gate where Paw-Paw unlocked the lock and let himself in. This little trailer was nothing more than a pull-behind flatbed trailer about twelve feet long that some of the men had added walls to, with one window for ventilation. It wasn't hooked up to electricity, and the only light came from a kerosene lantern. It didn't have running water or a bathroom, and there wasn't even an outhouse there... we just 'made do'.

A lot of nights in the summer, or on weekends, Paw-Paw would let me go with him and play on the gravel pits. I'd always get into the tar that dripped constantly from the old tar trucks, and he'd always fuss a little, just to make it 'real'. But I always got to go.

And every time I got to go, he'd pack us a little 'snack' for later. He'd have maybe a sandwich or two, and sometimes a can of vienna sausage or potted meat. He might even stop and let me get a 'sody-pop' and a honeybun on the way.

I'd play on those old trucks, but I knew better than to get in them, so I just climbed them like I did the gravel pits. Along about darktime, Paw-Paw would call me in, and I knew it was time to settle down for the night. I'd go in and we'd have our supper and snack, and then usually, Paw-Paw would ask, 'How 'bout a game o' Smut?'

His voice was thick with the accent of his Acadian blood. English was a second language to him, and you had to listen really carefully to what he was saying sometimes. But I always knew.

'Oh, can we Paw-Paw?' I'd always ask back. He knew I loved playing cards with him, even though I almost always lost. I was big enough to lose now; not a baby anymore. 'Yah, baby, git d'cards 'n we'll play a li'l while.'

Now Smut was just like playing Old Maid, except in Old Maid, you just lost if you had the last card. In Smut, though, you played with a deck of regular playing cards. And if you were left holding the joker, well, that coal-oil lantern came in handy for the winner.... they got to take a little of the smut off of the lantern and rub it on your face.

And like I said, I wasn't a baby anymore, I was old enough to lose to Paw-Paw by that time. Lose? I sure enough did, and gladly. Those were some of the best days of my childhood... and I sure do miss 'em.

Submitted By: K.Thompson from LA on 2005-08-19

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