The closest my father actually came to murdering me was in a Perry County hay field in August of 1985.
I had graduated from high school three months earlier and was waiting to begin my freshman year at George C. Wallace Community College in Selma in a couple of weeks. Dad farmed me out to a friend of his to put in two gate posts. It would be good for me, he said, hard works builds character.
So, he dropped me off early one morning, after emptying supplies from the back of his 1976 Dodge pickup. I had posthole diggers, a shovel, tamp stick, two bags of Quickcrete, level, brace and bit to drill pilot holes for the hardware, other assorted hand tools, a plastic 5-gallon bucket, chainsaw and water jug. The water for the concrete would come from the farm pond, ‘bout 100 yards away.
The farmer had dragged up an old telephone pole to serve as posts. Every good farmer has a wad of old telephone poles on the place. My directions; cut two, 8-foot-long posts from the pole, sink them three feet in the ground, plumb ‘em up, fill the holes with Quickcrete and put in the gate hardware. We’ll come back next Saturday, after the posts had settled and cured, and hang the gates.
Dad left, saying he’d pick me up about dinner time and we would get something to eat.
Did I mention it was August? Did I mention it was in the heart of the Black Belt? We were having our usual late summer dry spell, and that prairie soil was hard as concrete. After digging 6 inches in the first hole, the posthole diggers just bounced. I took to schlepping water from the…
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