During those final days, I made the rounds of my kinfolks and friends to say goodbye. I stayed a night with Uncle Claud, Aunt Virge, and Mary Catherine and had some of Aunt Virge’s huge lightbread buns slathered with butter and good molasses for breakfast. I rode to Aldrich with Grandpa in the truck and stayed a couple of days with Uncle Merritt, Aunt Golden, and cousin Charles.
Around Bona I also had final visits with my schoolmates—many of whom were cousins of one sort or another. Claude and Billy Todd who lived in the old board and batten house just beyond the church. Harold and Don Griffin (When I saw Don next he would be a U.S. Marine and I a U.S. Navy sailor on Ford Island in Hawaii not long after the attack on December 7th 1941.) There was Frank Whiteside, Andy and Lee Asbell, cousin James Lowell Tygart, Clarence Lee King, and Gene and Evelyn Asbell. I guess I did not make much of an effort to say final goodbye to most of the girls except when they happened to come into Grandpa’s store during those last days. (Mary Neil was one of those and it was only later that I realized that she did not buy anything, but just looked around and talked to me.)
I believe that it was sometime in May when the time finally came. My train ticket had come, along with some money for eats along the way. I carried water from the Bona well and Grandma washed and ironed my small wardrobe. I still had the cardboard box that my guitar had come in and, since I did not have a guitar case, packed my overalls and the things I had outgrown in around the guitar. I tied the big package with binder twine.
There was an old suitcase for my “good” clothes and some memorabilia which did not amount to much. I had given my collection of Indian arrowheads—half a Quaker Oats box of them—which I had picked up in the corn fields along Maze Creek—to Mary Catherine, I think, and the single-shot 12-guage shotgun to James Lowell.
On the day of departure, Grandma had me put on a clean shirt with my one necktie, the grey suit with the zippered jacket, and my black “Sunday-go-to-meeting” oxfords. I had a black felt hat. I felt all dressed up but I had outgrown that grey suit so that the pants only came to an inch above the ankle and the sleeves were more than an inch too short. In retrospect, with that binder wine tied guitar ox and battered suitcase, I must have been the epitome of a country rube that just fell off the turnip truck!