Sammy Turner was two years older than me. We ran around together a lot in the 1950’s. We had a call. “Whoo, Whoo, Whooie e ooo!” That call carried over the top of Stony Lonesome between our houses, and pretty soon we would be on a great adventure. He was a leader, I was a great follower, and somehow I got into a lot of trouble following Sammy.
We decided to build a club house up on top of Stony Lonesome. The small pines, chopped down, made a great frame. We went to an old barn, barely standing, and salvaged lots of planks. One day we went back to the old barn, and it was flat on the ground. We must have removed a key plank the day before. When the clubhouse was just about built, we made up the club rules, wrote them down, folded up the rule sheet and stuck them in a crack. The next day, when we took out our rule sheet, I saw Dad had been there. Another rule had been added.
“Do not cut any more pines belonging to John Gillum.”
Sometimes, after harvesting our peanuts, we would hang tow sacks (city people call them gunny sacks) full of peanuts up in the smokehouse. Sammy and Mack Carter, a cousin, finally got in the habit of coming by and manipulating me, two years younger, into sneaking into the smokehouse and getting them a good supply. I made a tiny hole in the bottom of a bag. After this happened a few times, I guess Dad caught on, because one day I snuck in, and Dad was in there, sewing the hole up with a needle and thread. One good glare from Dad was all I needed, and I hauled out of there and never tried that again. Dad never cared how many I ate, because he knew how hard I worked and I deserved them. But furnishing the neighborhood boys, who he knew did not work as hard, went against his grain.
As JR Turner once told me, “The Gillum’s were not like other people.”
Once, Sammy decided we could catch perch in Stowe Creek by feeling under the rocks and grabbing them. That worked well, until we pulled out a big water moccasin! That was the end of that.
Sammy had another good idea. We stuck needles in the end of our arrows, put on an extra shirt for armor, and shot them at each other. Fortunately, we were not very accurate.
Another idea was to lay a .22 shell on the concrete, reach around the corner of their rock cellar, and hit it with a hammer. I nixed that one. Even I knew better than that.
Sammy and I spent a lot of time looking for arrowheads. One of our favorite places to look was down close to the river. There were plowed fields there then, but now they are covered with tall pines. One Sunday, as we started out, Dad said, “Don't get out of our pasture.” Well, the good hunting was well past our pasture. When we got to the river, two miles out of our pasture, we decided to cross it and look on the other side. After we explored awhile, we tried to return to the Hale Ford, where we had crossed. Every time we reached the river, all we could find was wide and deep water. We could not cross. Well, we could have swam, but it was a little cold to relish that. We finally headed downriver and came out at Rover Bridge, a couple of miles downriver.
About sundown, we drug in home. Dad said, “Sammy, maybe you need to stop coming over here so much.” I had cows to feed and, since Dad was waiting for me, I got right to it. Finally Dad said, “I was down in the pasture today, and I didn't see you there.”
“We decided to hunt arrowheads in the woods,” I lied.
“No wonder you didn't find any,” he knowingly said. I totally deserved a whipping that day, but he let me slide.
A different trip to the river with Sammy, which Mom had nixed, earned me my only real whipping Mom ever gave me. Mom took me out under the persimmon tree. She had a big limb. I was taller than her then, and I just kinda looked at that small woman headed toward me with that limb, and I sorta smirked. She got hold of me with one arm, and we went round and round with her working on me with that big limb. You could hear my screams all over that hill. I never doubted her abilities after that.
My older siblings filled me in early as to what Dad was capable of, so I never tested him much. A certain look over the top of his glasses and “putt, putt, putt!” was all I usually needed to keep me in line. I never could figure out what that meant exactly, and I never wanted to know. If anybody knows what “put, put, put” means, I would now really like to know.
Sammy and I built two carts that we could sit on and steer. A piece of wood for a steering wheel with wires running to the front wheel area did the trick. We had trails made through the pines on the side of Stony Lonesome, and it was great fun. One day Sammy showed up with a car steering wheel for his cart. I was jealous. Well, I went home and started going through my brother Harold's stuff he had stored. He was a mechanic in the Air Force at that time. I found something that looked like half a car steering wheel, so I got that. It worked great. By the time I totaled my cart against a tree at the bottom of Stony Lonesome, this cart thing was getting old anyway, so I left it there.
Some 50 years later, Ken Gillum, Harold's son, called me up and said, “You would never believe what I found up on the hill. I can't figure it out! A B-29 steering wheel! Did you ever hear of a B-29 crashing up on the hill?”
I told him, “Ken, I think I can help you out on that one.”
A year or two ago, one of Sammy's teachers at Fourche Valley School in the 1950’s told me, “Sammy was the smartest student I ever had. He was so far ahead of everybody else, he was bored. He spent his time thinking of troublesome things to do. He helped me out a lot in deciding teaching was not for me.”