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Adventures of Ron Huckelberry...#4 Smoking grape-vine
Even though Ron’s family moved to Huntsville a year ago, his parents try to allow Ron to visit grandparents and aunts in Little Town quite often. Most of the time they drive the hundred miles, but it’s not unusual for Ron to ride the bus alone. Ron loves even a weekend visit, but the real excitement is to spend the entire summer in Little Town.
Granddaddy was a preacher in Little Town for several years and when he retired the
church gave them a house directly across the highway from the church. This house is only a block from the grocery store/gas station and only about a mile from Aunt Jane’s house.
His grandparents house is very large and very old. Some rooms, as well as the smoke house, date back to the Civil War era. The property is quite large and consists of a fenced-in garden, large front yard, large yards on both sides of the house, a garage, out-house, hen-house, and three small storage buildings.
Ron loves this old house, but he also loves to visit Aunt Jane every day. He naturally walks. He can walk on the gravel along side the busy highway or he can walk through the fields. He most always chooses the walk through the fields because there is always something new to see and investigate.
In a field about half-way to Auntie’s house, a very large tree sits alone in a very large sink-hole. For some reason an old grape-vine-like bush chose to share the hole with the tree. It has no grapes and it’s dry limbs look as if they are dead. An older farm boy told Ron that he often smoked ‘grape vine’, so naturally Ron wants to try it also.
One day Ron carries a small box of matches in his pocket when he visits the big tree. He breaks off a few pieces of dry vine limbs and climbs to his favorite sitting place atop the tree. There he holds a lit match at the end of the vine and sucks as he had seen others suck on a cigarette.
He is surprised how easy it is to blow a dark, almost blue, smoke from his mouth. Now he really feels like an adult. He lights and smokes three vines before leaving the tree and continuing to Auntie’s house.
Auntie is putting gas into a large lawn mower when Ron arrives. Ron asks if he can help cut the lawn. The large mower must be pushed, so Auntie pushes it up the hill to the garage and Ron pushes it down the hill towards the highway. He feels real grown up helping Auntie with this big mower. When they are finished, they both enjoy a big bowl of ice cream.
Ron will be sleeping at Grandmother’s house this week, so an hour later he is on his way through the fields to see Grandmother. He can not resist the temptation to enjoy another smoke. When he arrives at the sump hole he retrieves the matches he had hid under a log, breaks off two pieces of vine, and climbs upwards. He gets comfortable and lights his smoke. After enjoying two vines he proceeds on his journey.
Ron begins feeling a soreness on his lips, but it is Grandmother that notices the lip sores. “Ron, what have you been eating?” She asks. “Look at your lips in this mirror.”
Ron explains, “Jim Green told me he often smoked grape vine and he like it. So today I stopped at the sump-tree and smoked some too. My lips felt strange, but they didn’t hurt, so I stopped and smoked some more on the way home.”
Grandmother rubs some butter on his lips. “It a shame Jim Green didn’t warn you that the vine would cause sores.” She remarks, as she sends him on his way to play.
At the supper table Ron remarks that his lips are very painful. Granddaddy asks what the problem is. When Ron explains Granddaddy smiles, shakes his head, and remarks that everyone has to learn some things the hard way.
The next morning Ron’s lips are swollen and cracked. He can hardly stand touching them. Grandmother explains to Aunt Jane and Auntie later takes Ron to the doctor. The doctor gives Ron some cream that reduces the pain, but it is a week before his lips heal.
© GENE HUDGENS
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