Johnny was running late. Splitting the firewood, loading it into his RPU, and delivering and stacking it at Mr. Jordon’s back door had taken longer than expected. Normally he enjoyed this weekly chore, especially on a cool, cloudy fall day. “Cutting wood warms you twice”, his mother had always said. Today he was hurried because he had to get back to his place and clean up so he could make a delivery to Mr. Higgins’ restaurant and pick up the weekly garbage there to feed the hogs.
He threw the sledge, wedges, and ax into the back of his RPU. It fired right up and ran smooth, he had just adjusted the coils this morning. He loved the truck, it represented his new life and freedom. He knew it inside out. It was a 1925, or mostly 1925, he had put a ’27 engine in it, but he didn’t care that it was old and beaten up, he had it mechanically sound. It ran well, and it was his.
Johnny sped back down the hill to the old barn three miles away which was his home. It was just starting to get dark, and the temperature was dropping fast. Leaves blew in gusts across the dirt road in front of him. Normally he would take a little more time to enjoy this drive and signs of winter coming, but he had to get unloaded, clean up, and get to Higgin’s restaurant by 9:00. Double delivery tonight, and Susan might be there!
“Whew” thought Johnny as he entered the corner of the barn he had set up to live in, “my life is so much better”!
It was the fall of 1940 and his life had taken a major change. He was on his own. How had he gotten here?
Copyright Tom Hicks

A year ago at the age of 15 Johnny had run away from home, not far, only to this barn on the back of Mr. Jordon’s farm. He had worked small jobs for Mr. Jordon the past summer and knew the property well. No one would come way back to this barn, and it was a shelter to camp in while he figured things out.
Johnny’s father was a drunk, a mean drunk, and Johnny decided the last beating was the last. It was a cold day that he grabbed a few blankets, some food, and his father’s shotgun. He headed for the shelter of this old barn. No one knew he was here and he planned to keep it that way.

The barn was full of old junk. Johnny found an old woodstove and set up in a corner of the barn with a couple of stalls. Dragging the stove across the barn was a job, but he was determined. It was rusty and missing a leg and the top door. A brick made a good replacement leg and he found a piece of ¼” steel in an odd shape that worked for a lid. He even found an old cot! There was a large pile of old boards, half rotted, which he fashioned into inside walls using the existing stable sides. So he had a small living area, a stream running out back for water, and he was on his own. There was lots of deer meat for the shooting, old field corn on the cob he could glean from the fields, and still a few apples on the late bearing trees. He did get tired of boiled field corn, but it was heaven compared to his previous life.

Copyright Tom Hicks

He did worry about his sister, Sally. She was two years younger, but his father Little Petey, would leave her alone because his mother, bless her heart, would kill Petey if he messed with Sally. Johnny’s mother, Melanie, was a good Bible reading Christian woman, set in her ways, and guided by the Hand of God. Her daily prayers were answered by God and gave her direction. She had married young at 14, and was pregnant with Johnny at the time. Despite a rough life, she was still a beautiful woman with long blonde hair, a pretty face, and the shapely body of a teenager. She was strong minded, and her relationship with Johnny’s father was tempestuous. Little Petey was an abusive man who could not stay away from the bottle. But Melanie would defend her daughter to the death from Little Petey’s drunken aggression, no question about that.
God was Melanie’s mainstay, the church was her life, and she was going to raise her daughter proper. She had done her best raising Johnny, but his father was too involved. She would not allow Johnny’s father to ruin Sally’s life too. Now Johnny was gone, and she had no idea where. Neither did anyone else.

Copyright Tom Hicks

Johnny’s family lived in the small community of Chester. Most everyone knew everyone else’s business. Just go to church and get involved to help people out, and you would hear of other’s problems. Everyone had some type of problems and it was therapy for some to hear of others misery. Everyone knew Johnny’s father was a drunk to be avoided.

Melanie let it be known at Wednesday Prayer Meeting that Johnny had run off and Pastor Willis led a prayer that God would lead him back. Johnny was known to be a nice boy in the community, and everyone felt sorry for him because of his abusive father. Sheriff Jenkins had been notified and the community leaders were on the look out. No one had a clue where Johnny was, but everyone figured he was hiding out with a sympathetic local family.

It was all the talk in the community about how Little Petey was abusive, and tales of his drunken behavior in public spread, often exaggerated for effect, but generally true. Everyone was on the lookout for wizend Little Petey, a wiry man of short stature. Little Petey was not in any legal trouble, but he was quickly being ostracized from the community. When spotted in public, Little Petey knew he was being watched and judged.

But the real talk centered around Johnny’s running off and who he was hiding out with. Johnny was 15, and whoever was hiding him might be in some type of legal trouble.

Copyright Tom Hicks

The barn was secluded on the back of Jordon’s property and adjacent to a large stand of old pines. There was a small stream running across the back of Jordon’s property and behind the barn. It fed a large pond a few miles down which had bream and bass.

After two months it was deep in winter and Johnny had things well set up. The barn held what was a hoarder’s junk collection to most people, but to Johnny it was a treasure trove of tools and auto parts. Johnny had spent a lot of time here doing maintenance on Jordon’s farm equipment. Jordon had the tools and Johnny picked up mechanical work pretty fast. The tools were still here and there were several Model T’s in various stages of assembly, or dis-assembly depending on your point of view. He hunted a lot in the forest behind Jordon’s property and scrounged for food, mostly from the land, but he had ventured into town ten miles away a couple of times at night to hit the garbage cans. He missed people, he missed civilization, but he loved his new life. Somehow he needed to figure how to contact Mr. Jordon and get permission to live in the barn, fix up a car so he wouldn’t have to walk, and maybe get a job in town. But what would Jordon say? If the law found him would the judge force him to go back to his family?

Johnny was leading a good life for now, but he knew it couldn’t last and he had to plan for the future.

Copyright Tom Hicks

Sally loved days like today! Yes, the sermon would be boring, she quickly tired of hearing about who was headed to hell and why. And the hymns would be OK, but she really did not like music. But after church, on a beautiful, sunny Sunday like today, everyone would go out to the graveyard. They would look at the graves of their ancestors, they would do some weeding and sprucing up, they would leave flowers, and most of all, they would talk and tell stories of when they were coming up and what the people buried there were like! They talked about, “Old times”.
There was something special about the atmosphere of the graveyard, it was very happy and festive though words were spoken quietly. It brought out the best in people.
“Over there, in that corner, that’s where I met Little Petey your father”, Melanie said fondly nodding over to the corner of the graveyard, “right under that tall pine.”
He was a Deacon, right Mama?” asked Sally.
Yes he was, and finely dressed in a dark blue suit, hair all combed slick back, and he looked so mature!” said Melanie.
“But weren’t you terrible young to marry him?” asked Sally.
“Well Sally, one day you will understand. He was attractive. Human urges can be awful strong, and once we started kissing things sort of got out of hand.” said Melanie.
“So you WERE pregnant with Johnny when you married, like Mrs. Giles’s daughter told me.” said Sally.
“She told you that?”, Melanie asked in a harsh voice.
“A couple of years ago”, said Sally,” and that Little Petey didn’t want a bastard child.”
“Sheesh, the way people talk. I could tell you a few on Mrs. Giles, but you know what the Bible says about gossiping.” said Melanie.
“And I could tell you a few on her daughter!” giggled Sally.
“Your Daddy was a fine man, until the alcohol took over”, said Melanie, “a good man.”

Copyright Tom Hicks

Jon us tomorrow when Johnny says, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, …"

“BOOM!” the loud shotgun blast woke Johnny with a start. He jumped off his cot to peer between the cracks in the barn wall.
“Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, Mr. Jordon, I am coming out, don’t shoot!”, said Johnny.
Johnny slowly came out the side door with his hands in the air.
“Johnny” asked Jordon lowering his gun, “Johnny is that you? What the Sam Hill are you doing in my barn boy?”
“Mr. Jordon, I just can’t go back to what my life was. Please, please, just let me stay here and don’t tell anyone. I’ll do chores for you. Or pretend you didn’t see me and I will move on. I just can’t go back, there is no dealing with my father when he is drinking.” pleaded Johnny.
Jordon looked Johnny up and down, then thought awhile, then said, “Well you see son, your mother is worried sick about you, and the law is looking for you, and now I am involved. You been gone two months! I can’t hide you out, I could have legality problems if I did.”
“I’m just moving on then, please don’t tell anyone you saw me.” said Johnny.
“Now wait just here a minute, let’s think this thing out some.” said Jordon, “Seems your Daddy beating you should give you some kinda rights. Let me do some talking with Attorney Jones and see what can he come up with. I’ll get straight over there, you stay here, running don’t solve nothing long term.”

Copyright Tom Hicks

Tomorrow: “the Bible and God demand that you wimmenfolk be submissive…"

“Now you listen bitch,” said Little Petey, “the Bible and God demand that you wimmenfolk be submissive, you have read 1 Cor. 14:34. Now you get Sally out here and I am gonna straighten her out. She needs to learn a woman’s place.”

Melanie’s husband was drunk again. Sally had run and hid in her mother’s closet when she heard her father kick the door in. Melanie had met him in the kitchen and the screaming began. Little Petey had never attacked Sally before, but with Johnny gone Sally was now his target. And Melanie would not allow it.
“Get out of my house, you don’t live here no more, get OUT!”, yelled Melanie.

“You’ll burn in hell bitch!” said Little Petey.

Little Petey turned from Melanie with a sneer and started for the stairs figuring Sally was in her room. Melanie grabbed a small cast iron skillet and hurled it at Little Petey’s back as hard as she could. The throw was high and caught him across the top of his head, leaving a huge gash, and down he went with blood flying everywhere. He didn’t get up.

Copyright Tom Hicks

Tomorrow: “Sally, Sally”, screamed Melanie, “run next door …"

“Oh God, oh God, I’ve killed him, oh God, oh Jesus, what have I done?” Melanie moaned.
She ran to his limp body, he was still breathing. She grabbed a kitchen towel and staunched the blood coming profusely from the six inch tear in his scalp.

“Sally, Sally”, screamed Melanie, “run next door and get Thelma Lou, we have to get your father to a doctor!”

Little Petey lived and he made a solemn promise, “Bitch Melanie will learn to obey, and my daughter Sally will learn to obey. I WILL do God’s work as He instructs in the Bible.”

1 Timothy 2:12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.
Little Petey knew God would not look kindly on a man who let his wimmenfolk get out of line, it was his duty as a Christian to bring his wife and daughter into submission. Man was to rule over woman as God explained in Genesis as part of Eve’s punishment. Little Petey had his work cut out for him.

Melanie was in the office of Assistant Pastor Jacobs, sitting across the desk from him and discussing her problems with her husband Little Petey, a short skinny man twenty years older than she. Little Petey was mean, had a big chip on his shoulder, and had a serious drinking problem. He had recovered from the skillet wound, but now was threatening again.

Copyright Tom Hicks

Tomorrow: "…Then again, some need a little more persuasion.“

“So, what you are saying, is that your husband, Little Petey , is a clear and present danger to your thirteen year-old-daughter Sally?”, asked Jacobs.

“Yes, he has beaten Johnny many times, you know he broke in the house to take Sally once, and now I hear he is threatening to teach Sally ‘to be a good Christian woman’” said Melanie, “and the Sheriff says he can’t do nothing until after Little Petey tries it again.”

“Well, we have options” said Pastor Jacobs, “you are familiar with ‘Baptist Brothers’, our church’s men’s group that does most of the maintenance on the church and the church grounds? We cut the grass, trim the bushes, put on a new roof, whatever needs doing. Baptist Brothers also endeavors to keep the members of the congregation and community straight, if you know what I mean. We are Godly people, we have to keep Godly principles among our congregation and the local citizens. A visit to Little Petey from a few Baptist Brothers would probably help, most people who are out-of-line only need a little talk to recognize the evil of their ways. Then again, some need a little more persuasion.“

The pastor arose and walked around the desk, he put his hands gently on Melanie’s shoulders from behind, and leaned over to whisper in her ear, “would you like for me to arrange a meeting? Little Petey would not bother you again. You are a most attractive woman, and I have some power here.” The pastor softly kissed her on the ear and whispered, “if you comply he will never bother you again.”

Copyright Tom Hicks

Monday : “Its been spotted twice now”, said the Sheriff,

“No such thing Sheriff, no such thing” said Crenshaw, “I have lived here all of my sixty-five years and I have never seen or heard of a bear anywhere near hear.”

“Its been spotted twice now” said the Sheriff, “Jasper saw it along the creek down by the main bridge, and a truck driver from Jarrat saw it cross the road several miles from there.”

“Nothing but a big, black dog” said Crenshaw, “there has never been a bear in Chester.”

“They can move, especially if they are hungry” said the Sheriff, “I say he came down the river from the mountains looking for food and is lost and trying to find his way back.”

“Well if it is a bear it could be dangerous, a hungry bear wouldn’t be something I would want to tangle with.” said Crenshaw.

“Get the word out” said the Sheriff walking back to his car, “we don’t anyone getting hurt. Tell people that if they see it to call me and I will deal with it.”

Jordon returned to his barn, he was relieved to see the tell tail smoke that showed Johnny hadn’t run off. He beat on the barn’s door a few times, “Johnny, you in there?”

Johnny opened the door, “Yes Mr. Jordon, come on in.”

Jordon went into Johnny’s conversion of two stables in his barn into a livable space. It was warm and relatively clean. Jordon sat on a small bench Johnny had brought down from the hayloft.

“Well Johnny, here’s the deal”, Jordan began, “I talked with Attorney Jones and he recommended that I ask the Judge. Bottom line, if it is OK with you, you will be in my care until the Judge rules different. That means, if you agree, you will be my responsibility and if you screw up my butt is on the line. Can I trust you to do what I tell you?”

Copyright Tom Hicks

Tomorrow: “OK, no school”, said Jordon

“Well, what are you going to ask me to do?”, asked Johnny.

Basically, you do what I say, you live here, you get a job, you do chores around here, you don’t leave the county, and I always know where you are.”, said Jordon, “if you run, I am responsible.”

“So I can stay here in this barn in return for doing chores for you and Mrs. Jordon, but I have to get a job?”, asked Johnny.

“A job or school.” Said Jordon, “why aren’t you in school?”

Mama took me out after 6th grade,” said Johnny, “she said I could do my sums and read scripture so I didn’t need any more education. Plus she didn’t want me exposed to all that science nonsense about evolution, she said they are just atheists trying to undermine Christianity. The Bible and evolution are not compatible.”

“OK, no school”, said Jordon, “I’ll hunt around and see if we can find you a job.”

“That’s great, you can count on me, how did you get the Judge to agree to that?”, asked Johnny.

“Judge Jordon is my brother”, said Jordon, “but I done gone out on a limb for you, it will be my butt if you don’t comply. And it is not final, your mother or father can each file an appeal to his decision. Do you think they will?”

“Not Mom, she doesn’t care about me, but Dad, he could be a problem. He thinks he owns me and beats me when I don’t meet his expectations. I can never please him when he has been drinking. He won’t give up.“ said Johnny.

“If he comes after us in court, I’ll hire attorney Jones, if he comes after you here, beat the crap out of him.” said Jones.

“What” asked Johnny incredulously, “me beat him up? He’s big and strong and has been beating me for years.”

Copyright Tom Hicks

Tomorrow : " get that ’25 RPU and get it under the Coffing Hoist. "

“Dang boy, look at yourself.” said Jordon, “You’re bigger, taller, stronger than him. You got a mental thing going there cause he’s your father. He’s gotta get close to lay his hands on you. He expects you to let him have his way. Make up your mind now. When he is close enough you hit him in the nose as quick and hard as you can. Don’t draw back, just a quick jab in the nose, that will set him back guarantee, and there will be a lot of blood, his blood. Then go to work on him, just keep hitting his nose ‘till both your hands hurt. You ain’t gonna kill a man hittin him in the nose, so just concentrate on his snooze. He won’t bother you again.”

Johnny wasn’t a fighter, it just wasn’t him, and he had been brought up to respect his parents, he had never considered hitting his father. But, what Jordon said made sense, and he decided that if his father attacked him again he would fight back. He had nothing to lose.

“Meantime”, said Jordon,” get that ’25 RPU and get it under the Coffing Hoist. The engine is froze up and the block cracked. Take off the radiator, then remove the manifolds being careful not to break the studs. Best heat ‘em and stick a candle to them so the wax melts up in there good, then see if you can ease them out, not too much pressure. Remember that tractor we did last summer, same technique. Can you do that?”

“Yes sir”, said Johnny going through the process in his mind. First he had to move the RPU with four flat tires to the bay with the chain fall.

Copyright Tom Hicks

Tomorrow : “let Europe settle their own problems …”

Jordon set off for town. He was pretty sure he could find a job for Johnny, he knew most of the business owners in the community and he knew Johnny was a good worker.
He started at one of his favorite stops, Jones Drug Store. Jones was a good friend from way back and the local pharmacist. There was a fountain area with eight stools that revolved and a counter. There were also several small tables each with four chairs and a tile floor.
Jordon had a seat at one of the tables and Jones came to join him. They went immediately to their ongoing discussion of war in Europe and America’s neutrality.

“Not going to happen”, said Jones, “even with Hitler invading Czechoslovakia the Neutrality Act of ’39 prevents Roosevelt from sending any equipment, the embargo continues.”

“No way we can stay out”, said Jordon, “Hitler is going to keep invading his neighbors until the world unites against him. His war machine is massive, Europe can not handle him on their own."

“America will not get involved”, said Jones, “nobody wants another war after the last one. We are just coming out of the Depression, we need to take care of ourselves. Look at all the neutrality acts, ’35, ’36, ’37, ’39, congress will not authorize war. Our borders are solid, we can sit this one out and let Europe settle their own problems their own way.”

“Are you hiring?” Jordon asked changing the subject.

“Just got a new girl last week”, said Jones, “you’ll like her, she makes a great banana split.”

Jordon did not stop by Jones Drug just for conversation, he loved a banana split!

Copyright Tom Hicks

Tomorrow: “So tell me about them Bendix cap screws”

When Jordon came back the next morning the engine was out. The starter and other parts had been removed and wiped down.

“Less than eight hours?” he thought to himself scratching his head.

“I got her out!” said Johnny smiling.

Jordon narrowed his gaze, “Where did you learn to remove the Bendix from the starter?”

“I found several old starters in the extra parts and figured it out with the help of this” said Johnny holding up a greasy black copy of the Ford Service Manual, “The Service Manual was with the parts too.”

“So tell me about them Bendix cap screws” said Jordon.

“Definitely a different thread”, said Johnny, “I have never seen any thread like that. They are right here.”
Johnny reached over to the Bendix cap which he had set open side up and poured the four screws out.
“I cleaned them up, they can be reused” said Johnny.

“Hot dang, you off to a good start” exclaimed Jordon excitedly! “Now look over there, that engine came out of a ’27, got a strong crank. You pull the head, we’ll check the valves, and I got a high compression head somewhere around here. Should make for a strong runner. You get started and I’ll help with the engine install tomorrow.” said Jordon.

Mr. Jordon really was excited, but no where near as excited as Johnny!

Copyright Tom Hicks

Monday: Johnny was trembling, but ready …

Johnny had had a day and slept well, but the next morning he jumped up from is cot. It was early morning, still dark, and there was an unusual sound outside, like something messing with the door. He feared his father might come around now that the word was out that he was living in Jordon’s barn and this might be ugly. He grabbed a tire iron he kept beside his cot and quietly moved to beside the door.

Johnny was trembling, but ready to do whatever necessary. The door was repeatedly being tested, lightly pushed and released. He expected a crash as the intruder smashed the door after realizing the latch was down. This went on for a minute with Johnny positioned so the opening door would miss him and he could take out the invader with the tire iron. But despite being repeatedly pushed, the door was not crashed. Johnny slowly reached over with the end of tire iron and lifted the latch. Johnny’s heart was about to explode in his chest as the door was slowly pushed open. In the dim early morning light he could not see anyone, but looked down when he heard a whimper. A dog! Johnny about fainted from relief. He crouched down to gently rub the dog’s head. “How you doin’ buddy” he asked?

Johnny took the dog back to his corner of the barn and looked at it in the light. It was about 20 pounds, pure black with short hair, and its ribs were showing. He gave it a few scraps of deer meat. The dog gobbled them down eagerly and looked up at Johnny with big eyes as if to ask “Any more?”

Johnny knew nothing of dogs, but this one was very friendly and playful. When Johnny sat down it slowly climbed up into his lap and lay down, nuzzling its face up to Johnny’s neck and settling in for as much body contact as possible.

“You can stay ‘till we find your home” said Johnny, “until then I’ll call you ‘Buddy’”.

Copyright Tom Hicks

Tomorrow: …"he is gonna be a big ‘un.”

Mr. Jordon came by to see how the engine was coming along.

“Johnny, just where the Sam Hill did he come from?” asked Jordon motioning to Buddy.
“He is a stray like me” said Johnny, ”came in the barn looking for a place to stay for awhile. I figured you wouldn’t mind. I call him ‘Buddy’.”

“Hi Buddy” said Jordon crouching down and putting his hand out for Buddy to sniff, “Johnny, look at the size of this dawg’s front paws, he is gonna be a big ‘un.”

“Well as much as he eats, he should be big” exclaimed Johnny!, “What kid of dog is he?”

"He’s what ya call a Sooner”, said Jordon chuckling, “He’d sooner be this than be that! These types of mongrels also tend to be smart. Looks to have some of that Lab blood, see the toe webbing and double coat of hair? And maybe some Shepard from his head shape. Definitely not pure Lab. Maybe some Plott, does he wolf his food down without chewing it?”

“Does that, he is always hungry and eats so fast I am scared he will choke.” said Johnny.

“Yeah, that’s Plott Hound, Carolinians breed them to hunt bear. Friendly, smart dogs unless they get around a bear. They will attack a bear in a heartbeat, now that is stupid!”

Buddy went to Johnny, sat on his foot, and leaned into his leg for maximum body contact.

“And that’s Golden Retriever behavior, they love to get close like that“, said Jordon, “you got a good mix there, should be a good dawg. I’ll learn ya how to train him if you want.”

“That’d be great” said Johnny, “but first how do I get these valves unstuck? I don’t want to force them.”

Copyright Tom Hicks

Tomorrow: "… he loves ginger cookies”, said Sally.

Melanie and Sally were preparing for the Wednesday night Church supper. They were packing food that only had to be warmed up to serve. This was one of Melanie’s favorite Church activities, everyone would be there and gossip would be shared!

“Is Johnny going to come back to live with us?” asked Sally.

“That’s up to him”, replied Melanie.

“Well I miss him”, said Sally, ”maybe you could talk with him?”

“He’s growing and on his own”, said Melanie, “As long as Mr. Jordon is watching over him he is probably better off than being here. But I suspect you could visit him, no law against that.”

“Yes, I can bake something for him, maybe some cookies, he loves ginger cookies”, said Sally.

“Now you are thinking”, said Melanie, “it would be nice if you stayed in contact with him. Just see how he’s doing, how he looks, is he happy, that type of thing. I like to think he is doing fine, but I fear he is lonely. I miss him too. But he needs to be on his own now. After some time passes maybe we can get him to join us for dinner occasionally.”

“How about safe?” asked Sally, “Daddy is bound to find out where Johnny is living if he doesn’t know already. That barn is so far back on Jordon’s property, Daddy could get back there and no one would know.”

“You’re Daddy could be a menace to Johnny, or us”, said Melanie, “ Let’s just pray that does not happen, God protects us all.”

“Well, where do you think Daddy is?” asked Sally.

“I have no idea, maybe he’s gone back to Nashville. But I don’t know, and if I never see him again it will be fine with me”, said Melanie.

Copyright Tom Hicks

Tomorrow: “I don’t need any more employees”.

“Can’t” said Crenshaw, “I don’t need any more employees”.

Jordon knew this would not be easy, “Look here Crenshaw, the boy needs a job, he’s part of the community and right now we gotta take care of him. Now just look around this place, when’s the last time this floor was swept, and you need someone to drive around picking up parts, and to clean those new vehicles you have out front.”

“Don’t you be tellin me how to run my dealership,” said Crenshaw, “I don’t have anything for him to do and I don’t need any more employees.”

He’s good mechanical,” said Jordon, “That RPU he’s driving, he took three old piece- of-junk cars from my barn and put it together. I did buy a few new parts, FROM YOU, and with some advice from me he made a good serviceable vehicle.”

“That ratted out piece of junk, I don’t want it anywhere near my lot”, protested Crenshaw.

“It runs better than any new vehicle on your lot, and being old, beaten, and rusty it just shows how long Fords last. Now come on, the boys got ability, he’s an eager worker, he needs a job.”

“NO!” said Crenshaw.

“You’re not lisnen” said Jordon, “I tell you the boy is a natural, he can figure out and fix anything mechanical. He may only be 15, but he is mature like 25. He’s the fastest learner I know. This is an opportunity for you!”

“OK, tell you what”, said Crenshaw, “you tell that boy to be at the Texaco Station at the end of town tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. sharp and he better not ever be a second late with that ‘reliable’ vehicle he drives.”

“Texaco Station”, questioned Jordon, ”he needs to be here at your Ford dealership learning about Fords. He’s quick mechanical”!

Copyright Tom Hicks

Tomorrow: "…always be courteous to everyone”,

“Texaco Station tomorrow, last offer.” said Crenshaw.

“Thank you”, said Jordon, “you are doing the right thing, you won’t regret this”.

The next morning Johnny was at Crenshaw’s Texaco fifteen minutes early. No one had to tell him not to be late, and he allowed extra time just in case.

“Good morning Mr. Jenkins, my name is Johnny and I would like to start work here” Johnny said cheerfully.
“OK Johnny” said Jenkins, “you ever worked a filling station before?”

“No sir”, said Johnny.

“Ever worked with the public” asked Jenkins?

“No sir”, said Johnny.

“We are a service station, we serve the public, you have to always be courteous to everyone”, said Mr. Jenkins.

“First thing every morning I need you to go over the entire lot and pick up any trash. Then wipe down the pumps so everything is clean and shines” said Jenkins, “ Understand?”

“Yes Sir.” said Johnny.

“Broom and trashcan over there.” said Jenkins nodding to the repair bay.

That afternoon Crenshaw came by and talked with Mr. Jenkins.

“How’s that new boy?” asked Crenshaw.

“Excellent first day,” said Mr. Jenkins, “but it is only his first day.”

“Keep him as long as he does well and learns, fire him the first time he screws up.” said Crenshaw.

“Yes sir Mr. Crenshaw, you’re the boss” said Mr. Jenkins.

Some parts of the day Johnny was very busy, especially when several customers needed gas pumped and windshields cleaned. Other times were slow, Johnny would pick up trash, clean and shine the pumps and equipment, or sweep the office and straighten the shelves. In addition to gasoline Crenshaw’s Texaco sold kerosene, oil, oil additives, windshield wipers, and other auto related things that did not require a mechanic to install.

Johnny found he was tired when he got home, but felt very proud of his new job and the freedom a paycheck would give him. Buddy came running up excitedly when Johnny pulled in. One thing Johnny could count on - Buddy was always happy to see him!

Copyright Tom Hicks

Monday: "So you got to be able to communicate. "