We were living on Pounding Mill at the time. As Dolly Parton said later in song, it was getting way down in the fall. This was probably the most difficult times our family had ever experienced. Daddy couldn't find work of any kind. I always believed that the "good republican businessmen" who controlled the jobs in that area black-listed him for his union activities. I know that Daddy felt the same way right up to his death.
Daddy had gotten a little job loading coal at a scab mine and worked about a
1/2 day. By the time they took out all the deductions from his pay, he had netted 64 cents for the half (2 weeks). That 64-cent check laid on the mantle in the old front bedroom for a while, as he was too embarrassed to cash it. One day he asked me to take it down to Hatfield's store and cash it for him. Since you didn't tell Daddy "NO" I set out with check in hand.
The Hatfields had laughed at us from the time we moved to Pounding Mill. I thought about how they had laughed at us all the time I was walking out of the hollow. By the time I got to the swinging bridge, I had decided to go to Stanley's grocery to cash it instead. This way I would spare myself the humiliation waiting for me at Hatfield's.
I got to Stanley's and walked in with the check. I asked him to cash it for me and he looked at it for what seemed like an eternity. He looked at me, then at the check, about a dozen times. He then went to the till, counted out 64 dollars, and handed it to me.
I shagged tail out of the store immediately with money in hand, but every step I took, my conscience bothered me more. If you remember, Stanley's store was just across the road from the path leading out between James Hatfield's property and the river. It sat right beside the Delorme bridge. I got back to the swinging bridge and started up the three steps that led to the bridge on that side of the creek. Suddenly, the guilt became too much. I sat there on the steps for a few minutes, then walked back to Stanley's store.
I waited till nobody else was in the store and then walked in and told Mr. Stanley about the mistake that he had made. He slowly walked over to the cash register, punched a few keys, and turned the crank on the side that opened the cash drawer. He then got out the check, looked at it very carefully and said to me, "Son, don't ever tell an older person that they made a mistake. Now git out of here." I left very confused and was almost home before I realized what Mr. Stanley had done.
I took the money home and Mommy and Daddy were elated. I never told them that I didn't think that Mr. Stanley made a mistake, that I thought that he knew how much we needed the help and did it deliberately.
That evening, we had a party on that old rickety front porch on Pounding Mill. I walked back out with a store order and got enough hotdogs, chili, and buns so that Mommy, Cheryl, Danny, Lavaughn, and I could have two each. I also got us each our choice of an RC or a Double Cola. Daddy couldn't eat hotdogs because of his stomach, but he ordered two cans of Vienna Sausages and a pack of crackers. I felt like a king when I gave James Hatfield the money to pay for it.
I don't know if there is a Santa Claus. I do know that there was one on a cool November day in 1962. His name was T.C. Stanley.
P.S. This "64 cent" check kept me from having to quit school, too.