Daddy wrote a column for the Columbus newspaper for years - stories of "life". Many of his columns reminisced about years gone by in Columbus, Georgia.
Daddy had always said he needed to gather all of his columns together into a little booklet, but he never did. So, as a Father's Day gift for him, I typed up several of his stories and created two small booklets with about twelve stories in each one.
He died two months later (two years ago this month), but his stories live on...as does he in the hearts of all who knew and loved him.
The following story is fairly long but evokes such a sense of the 1940's/1950's era in the South that it is worth reading.
Faulkenberry’s Service Station on the corner of Wynnton Road and Forest Avenue was not an educational institution, but a large number of East Wynnton boys learned a lot about life there back in the late 1940’s and early ‘50’s.
Faulkenberry’s was where we hung out. Every afternoon after school, Saturdays, and some Sunday afternoons there would be anywhere from two to a dozen teen-age boys there.
Nowadays we might have been called a gang. We did do a lot of bad things, but rarely anything truly mean. Mostly we grew up and had fun.
How Fred Faulkenberry stood us is hard to understand now. We must have been a total nuisance. Every now and then when we got too rambunctious, he would run us off, and we would all move across Forest Avenue to the front yard of Wynnton School.
There was a big Nehi drink box in the front of the station that was a favorite place of ours to sit. It was one of those old boxes that you lifted the top up, slid your drink down to one end, put a nickel in the slot to trip the mechanism, and then pulled your drink out. The box had a big flat top, a perfect place for sitting with your legs hanging over the side showing your white socks and loafers.
Fred or W.D. or Oscar, who worked there, were forever running the boys off the box. In five minutes they would be right back. Fred and W.D. finally wired the drink box to a 6 volt car battery and put a switch inside the station. They would let two or three boys get real comfortable on the drink and pop the juice to them. They broke up the drink box sitting, but some of the boys found the switch and began surprising a few customers. We thought it was hilarious. Fred and the customers didn’t think too much of it.
I guess we could have been called a gang.
Across Wynnton Road from Faulkenberry’s was a drugstore (with a soda fountain), the Blue J Barber Shop, Spano’s Fish Market, a cleaners, and one or two other stores. The buildings are still there, but all the businesses are gone now except the Blue J, where some of us still get our hair cut.
This was right after World War II, and some of the boys got a hold of an army smoke bomb. Nobody knew just what a smoke bomb would do, and most of the group was leery of using the thing. Two or three of the boys decided to play a trick on Angelo anyway, and they detonated the smoke bomb in the doorway of his fish market and a fruit stand next door.
At Faulkenberry’s we learned a lot about cars and how to work on them (all the cars we had NEEDED working on). We learned how to cuss pretty good. We talked a lot about girls (we didn’t call it sex back then), but most of the information that we passed around was not very accurate.
One boy, who never hung around the station very much, was a bully. When he did come up there he seemed to take great pleasure in picking on me. He was bigger and older than I was and would pinch me or trip me just to aggravate and embarrass me.
One day, on the advice of my older brother and the older boys in the group, I screwed up my courage and, shaking in my boots, socked him in the nose as hard as I could. Boy, was I scared, and boy, was he surprised. He never bothered me again, and I learned a little about facing up to life’s problems.
The station sold peanuts and crackers off a little rack inside the station. Fred gave up early on trying to keep up with a half dozen teen-agers in and out of his place. He put us all on the honor system about paying for whatever we got. We put the money on the cash register, or, quite often, just opened the cash register and put the money on the drawer.
Most all of that bunch of Wildwood Indians turned out O.K.
Faulkenberry’s Service Station was an institution and we all learned a lot there.
(February 15, 1991 – “Voices”, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer)