Hunker Down with Kes

Published: Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 10:10 AM.

Charlotte Melton was sitting a couple of seats down from me on this ostentatious occasion. I glanced over at that beautiful face and thought back to a cold after school day in the eighth grade. I don’t remember how or why we were walking through the elementary school parking lot. I do remember it was right beside the monkey bars and I’m not sure who kissed whom. But it was the first time for both of us……and that would have to go down as some kind of milestone. At least it was for me! I can’t say for dead certain positive exactly how Charlotte took it.

Milestones, I figured, are mostly in the eye of the beholder!

You take the time me and Ricky Hale camped out in the swampy area known locally as the Jarrell Switch Bottom. It seemed like a good idea in the broad daylight. We ate our Hormel Vienna sausages and Premium saltine crackers in silence. The darker it got the closer the swamp drifted toward us. Creatures, never seen up at the town square, began to wail and moan. The moon quit on us. Unseen visitors began to gnaw on our arms, neck and legs. A blood curdling yell that sounded a lot like my older brother shook the ground we were not sleeping on.

Pride, stubbornness and a healthy dose of stupidity kept us out there all night. It was as about as big a milestone that I ever celebrated. Of course, once was enough!

I intercepted a pass against Milan and ran it back for a touchdown. I did a backwards somersault with a half twist off the high diving board. I won a junior tobacco spitting contest at the Carroll County Fair…….all milestones that seemed to eclipse this graduation exercise on a hot, late spring night in 1965.

Of course, they didn’t. Time and maturity have proven me wrong. Riding a bike and kissing Charlotte are important mind you, but they are not essential. 

Mr. Warren was right. Graduation is a pretty big deal. Those reaching that milestone should be congratulated. And, as Miss Polly would remind them all if she was still with us today, “It’s what you do afterwards that counts!”

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