We lived in a little town called Rockport near Corpus Christi, Texas. We were left behind when dad was assigned to duty in Korea but fortunately we settled near mom‘s parents. I was eight years old and blessed with a barefoot, bike-riding freedom that only a small town can give a young boy.
Returning from the store, mom stuck her head into my room and saw that I had some coins under examination on my bed. “Where did you get that money?“ she asked. “I got a job, Mama,” I responded. “Get in the car,“ she ordered. Grabbing her purse from the kitchen table she almost beat me to the driveway. Mom started the Studebaker and pointed it toward the harbor as I described how my first job came to be. Fishermen use a bobbin of string to repair fishing nets. I was hired as a bobbin winder and been paid five cents for each one. Managing to accumulate almost a dollar, that kingly sum represented a movie, popcorn, a Coke, and 10 sheets of saltwater taffy.
When we arrived at the dock, I pointed to the four grizzled fishermen repairing their nets who were up to that moment in time my employers. Hands on her hips, Mama said, “Which one of you hired this boy?“ Three of them dropped their heads and pointed gnarled thumbs at the man nearest the boat. When Mama got done with him, I was unemployed and those four probably wished they had gone into the Gulf of Mexico to face a hurricane instead.
A loving mother can be a force of nature when her son has been used. She did let me keep the money, but I was warned to stay away from the docks. I wouldn’t go near one for another 13 years and only then when I was assigned to do so in the Navy. I was afraid Mama would find out.