When I was about four years old, my family moved from Austell, Georgia to Waynesboro, Georgia. My father was sick and had to be in the hospital for about two years. The house we lived in was close to some railroad tracks. Every afternoon at about the same time of day, a train roared down those tracks. My two brothers and I played on the banks overlooking the railroad tracks. We always waved to the conductor on the train as it went by. He looked so official, wearing a snappy uniform and hat.
One day when the train went by, the conductor threw a pack of chewing gum to us as he went by. I still remember the yellow Juicy Fruit package as it looked laying in the ground. I think about that man every time I see a pack of Juicy Fruit.
Another thing I remember from that same time, we that we lived near a cotton field. My older brother, who was about six years old, went off to the cotton fields with our old black baby sitter's family to pick cotton. He stayed all day every day for a week, picking those cotton bolls and putting them into a huge burlap bag. He proudly brought his cotton bag home every night to show us how much cotton he had picked.
That Saturday morning, someone knocked on the door. He had come to pay my brother for his cotton that he had picked. The man weighed the sack, then gave my brother a handful of change. I don't remember how much exactly it was, but I do remember the big the grin on my brother's face, as he held both hands together and shook that change so it clinked and jangled. He was the happiest little boy in all of Waynesboro that day, having earned what was probably less than a dollar picking that cotton for a whole week!
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