There was always a cakewalk at the theater for the big functions. When where the big functions, Christmas?
The Western movies were on Friday night, so we played western on Saturday and took turns being the bad guy. Romances were on Saturday, yuk. There was always a swam of kids acting out the movie in the field between Desoto Manor and the theater.
We never played with non-Bynum kids. There were black and white kids living outside of Bynum, but we really did not mix with them. After we finished elementary school, we rode our own government bus to junior high and high school; only children of the people employed at the Depot were allowed to ride the bus. The kids outside of Bynum rode yellow school busses and went to different schools.
My father retired from the depot in his 50s with a hearing loss. The real reason was that he could not stand the stress. He lived until age 79.
Why did so many men who worked at the Depot die young?
Hot Holmes seems to have outlived everyone, but not his son Donald who died in his 50s or early 60s. Hot was the richest man I knew, yet he drove a truck with a broken spring and never wanted to pay us anything if we worked for him. He owned most of the next county. A treat was to have deviled ham since we only had potted meat at home. The black guys had a lunch of RC and a moon pie, for real.
They would sell beer out of the trunk of a car on the highway across from the Red Barn at Coldwater Creek. They never checked ids.
Shotgun was a great place to park.
The pool at Desoto Manor. The kiddie pool was very shallow, hot and smelled like babies used the pool for other purposes. The big pool was only about 3 feet deep, but that was a big deal and the water was cooler.
I moved out of Desoto Manor when I was six and had to ride my bike back for first grade.
Milton McKendree stole all the beer from the American Legion and put the beer in his garage walls which were made out of ammo boxes. They never found the beer; we drank it hot and put the empty cans back into the walls of the garage.
The fish at the lake would nibble your nipples if you did not move. Weird feeling. We played hide and seek and the best swimmers hid under the dock.
The hill across the road from the theater was the best place to sled. If it snowed, we spent the night before building sleds and all day going down the hill. We would come home every now and then to put on dry clothes.
If no one was saved at the Baptist Church on Sunday, the service was a failure.
The first color TV was at the officers club and we would watch the Rose Bowl Parade and the adults would ooh and ah. They also had a pool table and the kids would drift off and shoot pool.
Around age 5 or 6, I had a wart on my left hand just above the thumb. My mother took me to see a local witch in the back side of Desoto Manor near the cemetery; she put some old rags on it, said some words and buried the rags. Within a week, the wart fell off and never returned.
Mrs. Carpenter’s husband, John, died young after being very active in the community. She late started the Red Barn at Coldwater Creek.
Desoto Manor was a once in a lifetime community. No one was rich, no one was poor. There were no old people in Bynum when we were kids. The entire community grew old together. The closest I have seen to the old Bynum was a commune in postwar Vietnam.
Pollution. Every day we drove by Monsanto in Anniston and the smell was very bad if the wind blew a certain way. We later found out that West Anniston is one of the most polluted places on the planet. Monsanto was dumping PCBs into the creeks. They tested the water by dropping in fish; they started to die in 10 seconds and the skin peeled off. Now the Depot is burning the chemicals including sarin that were stored in the restricted area. As a kid, I rounded up Dewey Holmes’ cattle back there and rode my horse on the igloos. I remember going into the igloos and seeing row after row of stored bombs. Now they are old and starting to leak.
My parents always bragged about the purity of the water from Coldwater Springs. We would drink the water out of Coldwater Creek by the Red Barn. Chemicals from the Depot had been leaching into the groundwater that fed Coldwater Springs for years. See the Anniston Star report on one of the chemicals.
Fathers bought new cars every couple of years and the whole community came to check it out. My dad bought a brand new 1951 Chevy with a powerglide transmission. Dark green top, light green bottom. I thought it could out run everything, but my dad would not try. I was disappointed.
We put up an antenna long before we bought our first TV just so everyone would think that we had a TV.
My mother told me to come home in a little while. I could never figure out how long a little while was. Was it an hour, two hours? Who knew?
We would play in the coal bins in Desoto Manor.
My brother planted a tree next to our apartment in Desoto Manor, last time I looked, it was old and crooked.
I have a framed graduation certificate from Bynum Elementary that matches my framed MBA. I treasure both of them.
Mrs. Crockett always looked super. She would come to church late just to be seen. She still looked great in her 80s.