Have-you-ever-seen-a-5-wheel-go-cartIt was a hot summer day. Judy, always scoping out an adventure, barreled down the intersection of Churton and West Tryon Streets in Hillsborough in a contested footrace with her adopted brother Avery. Cars swished precariously close to her. Just as her feet slid into the edge of the curb, she yelled “yipee!” She had won – again. Avery, not to be undone, challenged her to a bicycle race, as they approached their home on the summit of Eno Mountain. Judy hopped onto her Hornet balloon tire bicycle and Avery on his, as they reeled around the Eno Cotton Mill village, racing, making wheelies and whooping and hollering. Then Judy’s brother, John, a lanky, studious preteen, who was “keeping an eye” on Judy and Avery, suggested that they make a soap box car with cast off gears and axles from the Eno Mill yard. The threesome worked intently, using wood planks for the soap box car chassis. Old axles scrounged from the mill yard were placed on the front and back of the chassis, with wheels pushed through hand-drilled holes, secured with carter pins. The soap box car was almost ready to ride. Avery tied an old factory band around the wood chassis, for hand steering, and then hopped in it and rode the soap box car down the hilly terrain, serving as a makeshift racetrack. His hands were flying upward – laughter piercing the air, rife with the buzz of insects. Judy and John serviced the “car,” the remainder of the afternoon, when it needed repairs. Sometimes there was good natured jibbing and cajoling, as they each negotiated turns to ride.
Soon they heard Will, their father calling, asking them to help him work the early garden he had planted, and to rake the grass. Judy and John raked the yard and Will rewarded them with a round of bubble gum retrieved from the eve of the kitchen door. Then they went outside to feed goats, Gabby and Sue, played marbles and then retired indoors to listen to the Wild Bill Hickok Radio Show before turning in for the night.
As the summer days waned, the chlorophyll turnover slowed, and the color of fall leaves changed into darkened hues of amber, green and brown, dimming the landscape. In mid-September, ten-year-old Judy and her brothers, John and Avery awakened and got ready to head off with the family on a Saturday outing to Occoneechee Mountain in Durham,a 12 mile drive from Judy’s hometown of Hillsborough. After arriving, the threesome scampered up and down hilly areas and made imprints on mud mounds with bits of scrap glass in the nearby forest. Judy made sure that they remained within earshot of her parents. She knew she’d get a “tongue lashing” ifthey strayed too far. Mom, Mattie was sprawled out on a bark cloth quilt and arranging picnic fixins.’ Dad, Will, had cast his fishing reel in a river edging the nearby heath bluff. After Will caught several croaker fish, Mattie mealed up the fish, fried it and fixed a passel of cornbread. Mattie gave Judy, Laura and John a “call down” for starting to wander too far up the peak trail, hollering out that they’d “better stop running and ripping and get back to camp before dinner got cold.”Will ate two generous platefuls, and then sat about to gather the family’s belongings and prepare to leave.
Following dinner, Judy, John and Avery walked over to a large oak tree where their attention turned to woodpeckers boring holes in an oak beside them foraging out a large beetle, where they spent a long stretch of time inspecting insects with a borrowed magnifying glass.Soon they heard a familiar call, “Younuns it’s time to go,” Will yelled. The crew met back up with Will and Mattie, walking back down the Mountain Loop Trail, peering over the wooden fence framed by silhouettes of large granite and limestone rocks that seemed to bob against the backdrop of night sky.
They all piled into the Ford truck and drove the long stretch of highway back to Eno Village. After arriving home, the shadow of dusk fell and in shimmering patches of light,the energetic threesome took turns playing the game “Peggy.” John stacked two sticks. Judy used another stick to whack the criss-crossed sticks, lodging the loose one, which sent it spiraling into the air, while Laura tried her hand at hitting the airborne stick in softball fashion, with her hands. Then Will and Mattie rounded up the crew and they all piled into bed, drifting off to sleep and dreaming of more homespun adventures – like making a wood whirly bird – but – that adventure would have to wait – until tomorrow.

by: Donna Johnson