I saw my cousin Wayne Potter the other day. Nowadays, we only see each other occasionally. It was good to see him and catch up on our lives a little bit. But we live in different worlds now, unlike our youth, when we were closer.
Wayne grew up in a small town in one county, and I grew up in a small town in another county. Our mothers were sisters and they did a better job of keeping up with each other than we do now. We went to see the Potters regularly, and they visited our home often. So Wayne and I had plenty of time to hang out together.
When we were little kids, we hunted birds with our BB guns year round. Daddy wouldn’t let us shoot the songbirds, but English sparrows and starlings were fair game. We explored the world outside. There weren’t any computers or video games, and TV didn’t keep our attention very long, with only one or two channels to watch.
Wayne was somewhat of a daredevil even back then and would try just about anything. We didn’t get into any serious trouble, but I’m sure our parents wondered about us sometime.
We explored the old abandoned buildings and stores in our home towns. Just poking around, looking for treasure. We fished in the cattle ponds, creeks and old millponds around town. We climbed up on the back of the cotton gin to shoot pigeons that came to roost in the cupolas on the top of the roof. The gin was the tallest building in town and we could survey our entire kingdom from it’s lofty peak.
Our family kept horses and we loved to ride. Daddy had an old bird dog named Thomas. He loved to run along, but sometimes proved to be a nuisance, attracting the attention of other dogs and getting in the highway.
Once, when Wayne and I were riding, Thomas followed, and we made an effort to lose him. We cut across the countryside away from the roads and wound up in some unfamiliar territory. Our presence caught the attention of a nearby landowner, who mistakenly thought we were out to steal some of his livestock.
We took to the woods on the horses. We encountered an old fence in the woods, stomped down a small section and went on our way. The next morning at breakfast, a sheriff’s deputy pulled up into our front yard. We got into a little trouble over that one, but we survived it.
Wayne’s dad wasn’t a hunter, so my dad took him hunting with us. We hunted deer, quail, squirrels, rabbits and ducks. He went on camping trips with us to Sparkleberry Swamp. We fished the lake, trolling for white bass and looking for bream beds.
Later, when we were old enough to drive, we duck hunted together in Sparkleberry. I remember a duck hunting trip to Sparkleberry when we camped out for a whole week during the Christmas holidays.
On one trip Wayne’s old daredevil tendencies surfaced. He decided to ram an old dead tree with the jon boat. It was a bad idea. I think that he thought the tree would break off at the water line, but instead the tree broke off about halfway up, and fell in the boat right between us. It hit with such force, and happened so fast, that we were lucky not to get hurt. It dented the boat up a little, and scared us up a lot.
We’ve gone our different ways over the years, and don’t see each other too much, but we’re still family, and friends.