Rural report with Laird Smith

I lived north of town on the family farm which was three miles from Oliver. One mile north of the farm was a complex called Wilcox Corner. A number of businesses operated there. Sid Scott ran a service station and garage, a radio repair shop and motel was run by Cecil Scott, Mr. Wilcox ran a tree nursery and a corner grocery store was run by Mrs. Wilcox.

Mrs. Wilcox was an old lady to me, but was always a kind and welcoming person. The store sold everything you would need for a house but I wasn’t interested in household needs, I had another interest in that store.

I don’t recall how old I was when I made my discovery, but it attracted me until I left Oliver to seek my fame and fortune. Mrs Wilcox was a good merchandiser, she stocked a great deal of choices of candy. I loved candy more than I hated fear.

Between the family farm and the candy store were three homes where three cousins lived with their parents. These boys were near my age. As a child, I did not like rough, tough boys. I preferred playing with boys who didn’t want to push me down and punch me. The cousins were too rough for me.

As soon as I learned to ride a bicycle I headed for the candy store. The first time I rode there I took my time because I didn’t know the perils. I leisurely rode to the store, bought my candy and a pop and ate it. On the way back home I was stopped by of all three cousins at once. They threatened me in scary ways until I began to cry, then they let me go with a warning not to come by this way again.

I had a short memory, a consuming sweet tooth, and a quarter burning a hole in my pocket. It was off to the store again, but this time I raced past the cousins’ houses and over to the safety of the store. I bought my treat, consumed it, and prepared to race back home.

I made it past two of the cousins’ homes safely, was just starting to relax for in 25 feet I would pass the last cousins’ home, when the younger cousin launched himself out of the tall grass beside the highway, took four strides towards me and grabbed my handlebars. No matter that there were cars passing by, the job of intimidation was much more important!

He stared me down with an ugly face and I began to cry. Then he let me go with a warning not to come this way again.

There were many times I got to the candy store without being caught and bullied, but I was caught just enough to make the trip hazardous. The boys rarely hurt me physically. Their intent was to instill fear in me. If I had quit going to the store, they would have won the intimidation war.

When I bought my Honda 90cc motorcycle at the age of 16, I made my trips to the store without any problems. Who would try and stop a motorbike cruising on the highway? The two older cousins occasionally interfered with my life at school during lunch hour, but didn’t harm me physically.

As we grew older, our paths drifted apart and we all matured. I stopped crying and I hope they stopped bullying.
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