Just Reminiscing with Roy Bale
“One Stormy Night”
It was a stormy night in the little railroad community in Northern Nevada. We had just moved there from the cotton fields of west Texas. Someone forgot to tell the folks in the small town of Imlay, Nevada, circa 1942, to lock their doors at night. Some did not even have door locks, or window locks. Lucky for me, Pete and Evelyn Davidson’s house had locks all around, and they had asked me to babysit their boys. They lived across the street from us. I was going on 12 years young. My brother Jess had made a career of making me afraid of darkness. “Ol’ Satan gonna get you, and when he does, it will be a dark stormy night,” Jess had told me a thousand times. The setting was right.
Being afraid of dark nights, and especially dark “stormy” nights, I set about locking all the windows and doors after they left. One never could tell when a hobo might sneak into town from hobo jungle out by the stockyards, which was across the tracks. And that hobo might invade one’s home. Never had happened before, but better safe than sorry.
Pete and Evelyn were going to the community party at the school house, along with everyone else in town.
They had asked each of my sisters to babysit, but they declined, wanting to go to the party themselves. So, since I was the last one in town that might watch their small sons, Pete asked me. He flashed that five dollar bill, and my eyes lit up like a pinball machine.
At the party/dance, there would be music, and the newest kid in town, Benny Moore, would be playing his saxophone, accompanied by our “Big Room” teacher, Mrs. Sullivan, playing piano. It was going to be a fun night at the old school house, but that five spot was music to my ears. A fortune.
Pete had told me to be sure and stay awake, because of the danger of fire. Somewhere just shy of midnight I conked out on their davenport (Hey, that’s what they called them back in the good old days when times were bad.) I went big-time sound asleep, and at that age could sleep through a Texas tornado. I began having weird dreams, like a hobo was trying to break in. But I slept on, through the banging and wind and music and all.
When I heard breaking glass, my nightmares were turning into reality. Someone broke a window glass, unlocked the window, and was climbing through the window opening. I expected to see a hobo, but it was only Pete, breaking into his own home because he couldn’t awaken the dumb babysitter. They had tried waking me for a long time. Pete said a few things I can’t repeat, but he gave me the five spot, and I was happy as could be.
For weeks, I had a sack of candy corn in my pocket, bought from Burke’s mercantile store. I was a popular kid in town for a while, because my buddies liked candy corn as much as I did. No one in Imlay, Nevada, ever again asked me to babysit for them, and I couldn’t figure out why. Strange people.
I have kleptomania and it’s usually not too bad, but whenever it gets real bad, I take something for it.