A Lonely Boy…

Old flashlight batteries make good toy cars: when I was very young, I can well remember that I visited, or was taken to visit, my great-grandfather Tom Smith. He was an old man then. He also, at that time, was bedridden. I do not know what his ailment was. I can remember going through the doorway and into the very small house where they lived. The place is located on camp Springs road in Caswell County. It is a small place and sits on a fairly level spot where the road sharply goes down to that level. There were some pine trees that grew along the bank of the road.

When I got into the house, I remember that I looked to my left. There was a bed; it looked like a twin bed, and my grandfather Tom was lying on it. There were other people in the room but I cannot recall their names at the present. I am quite sure that my great grandma Smith, the wife of grandpa Tom, was there. Also there would have been the people, perhaps my own parents, who took me to the place. I was well under 10 years of age. The remnants of the house are still there.

On the left side of the small house there was a kind of driveway. I say kind of driveway because only a few vehicles ever came in there. At that time, which might have been in the early 1940s, there were few cars on the road. World War II was raging in Europe and in Asia and the need for materials to build war equipment took away, for the most part, materials to make cars and other things for the civilians. It is that small part of the driveway that I remember so distinctly. The dirt on the driveway was of a light, sandy type. Perfect for a kid to play like he had little toy cars to drive around.

Someone gave to me two or three old, used up flashlight batteries. They were kind of dark in color. But in my imagination, as a young child, I thought they were small cars. And so I would place one car or battery in front of the other and push them around in the sandy soil. One thing that I remember about that place and when I played with those batteries is that I was alone. It might have been after Donnie, my one older brother, was killed when a car struck him. I can remember that as I played with those batteries I felt a sense of loneliness. I do not know how else to describe it. I suppose that I wanted a playmate but I did not have one. This little story of the batteries becoming little cars will illustrate to you that we had very few real toys. I created in my mind those little cars from the batteries. I do not know how I got to that place and how I got back to wherever I was living at that time.

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