Kenneth, born and raised in the South, resides in Hamilton, Alabama. He enjoys sharing his unique perspectives on life through his writing.
Thursday, July 13, 1971, Summer
one month before I went (freely) into junior high school at Hamilton, (Ala.) High School. This name is also a real school. This really needs an introduction because there are probably no teenage boys (now, girls too), who haven't went upon a secret mission to steal juicy, tasty watermelons from a nearest neighbor's watermelon patch. (To the northern readers: Patch means field). A watermelon patch filled with ripe melons in the summer is similar to a huge billboard located at the middle of the patch saying, "Great Melons! Feel Free to Steal. No One Will be Arrested." Actually, there was no billboard. We just did our reconnaissance about (a) Mr. Howell who loved to grow watermelons each summer.
This hub features yours truly and my three "pro" watermelon crew members who now remind me of George Clooney and Brad Pitt in their Oceans 11 quadruple films that we loved. We only had four members, but mind you, we were very sharp when it came to a good time, fun, and eating watermelon when school is out for summer vacation. And actually, we did not thank that stealing watermelon was a crime or sin. We knew that someone down the road would steal some melons, so why not us?
The names of the conspirators: yours truly, James, Gary, and Glenn Childers, brothers ranging from the oldest, James to the youngest, Glenn. Gary, the middle brother was the promoter of our ill-fated watermelon raid and many other "fun" things not meant to hurt anyone or cause anyone any unwanted suffering. We felt this way about ourselves to be quite frank with you. Now that I think of it, if this escapade were cast and filmed in 2020, the name might be: Averys Four. I know. Not as sexy as Oceans.
How This "Adventure" Started
we four were just sitting in the front yard of the Childers brothers and we were just talking about what teenage guys talk about: girls, cars, girls, jobs, money, and girls
And these subjects were important to any teenage guy on the international scale. If you are a teen guy, you just ain't healthy unless you love talking about girls, cars, girls and money. I just threw 'jobs' in the first statement to make it sound glamourous.
Gary looked around at the rest of us and asked, "you guys happen to see Mr. Howell's watermelon patch? I'll bet that he has 10 acres this year!"
By Gary asking that one question had our stomachs asking for watermelon and rubbing our hands together like they do on TV. Except on TV, those "burglars" somehow make successful get-aways. But now think. We four were nothing but rank amateurs at this watermelon raid, but we covered our inexperience well.
We also knew that were not kids and should discuss the plan to get watermelons without pay, so we sat in the Childers' front yard and quietly-talked about it.
James: I like the idea, but we better be careful.
James: If we get caught, we could go to jail for stealing someone's proerty and have a criminal record.
Me: Sounds serious, but still, those sweet watermelons would taste great, huh, fellas?
Gary: You know they would. Well, I do not care about the rest of you, I'm for heading to the watermelon patch because daylight will not be here forever, so what do you think?
There was no discussion. We set off to lift two watermelons each making us eight melons total that we would take a long way from Mr. Howell's watermelon patch and then eat them so do away with the evidence.
So Far, So Painful
might describe how we met with pain, bloodshed and overall aggravation as we crawled into the tall grass that grew around the melon patch and although the grass serviced as perfect camouflage, we had not counted on how sharp those edges of each grass blades were, so we got cut several times and that brought on bloodshed. We did not cry because we were going to prove that we were men and men on a serious mission do not cry.
We would crouch down, run a few steps and then fall down in the grass. This was the perfect mission plan. Now just out of touch lay some of the biggest, sweetest watermelon's that we ever saw and we began to grow hungry as we made ourselves move into the watermelon patch and choosing the biggest ones for us to "lift." I hate to use the verb, "steal," as it implies that we were criminals.
Eight melons, four guys equals success! But carrying those melons was no walk in the park. This was tough labor. We were tempted to just leave the melons laying beside the patch and move on. This bit of foolish wisdom did not go well with Gary, so he ram-rodded us into carrying on the mission.
"Keep crawling like those guys we see on the news--those American soldiers over in 'Nam," Glenn suggested. And his advice was wise, so we followed his advice and soon, we were deep into the wooded area far away from the melon patch.
The Sweet Taste of Stolen Melons
will never be equaled, That statement, we had heard on the radio from a preacher who was teaching the reality of life and things in the life. This was all that we knew about (that) preacher because we were too focused on digging into those red-meat watermelons and later enjoying such a big secret of crime that we could share with our kids and grand kiDs.
And with that being said and agreed on, we did away with the watermelon rinds as to throw the evidence away and just act natural. This truly worked for a few days and that was until the youngest Childers brother, Glenn, had a several attack on his conscience, went to the dad, O'Neal, who incidentally was a deacon in a local church and Glenn did not want to bring shame on his dad or family.
Sharp thinkIng to se so young, so Glenn spilled the beans. James and Gary, and yes Glenn too, were forced (by O'Neal) to visit Mr. Howell and confess what crime that they had commited and suffer the punishment that was laid-up for such people.
I Thought That I Had
it made. A week or so went by and although my buddies had told me what they had done, revealed that the Mr. Howell only grinned and said for them not to be stealing again, so the Childers boys got away without serving any true jail time as it were, leaving me to deal with the only one to keep the watermelon raid a persona secret and I believed that I could do that without problems.
Wrong! Me and my big mouth which has always kept me in trouble for all of my life, did it once again. It happened one nght as my mom and dad were content and quiet just watching a movie on TV and enjoying life. That was until a commercial came on the screen about (wouldn't you know it) about some medicine made from watermelons guaranteed to make your skin soft. Or something like that. By now, I was already wet with sweat.
I halfway laughed as I told my parents what I thought was a "funny" boys will be boys thing and shared about us and the watermelon raid. Then laughed to the top of my lungs. I was the only one laughing. My dad and mom never showed any emotion, so right then I knew that the jig was up. Time to pay the fiddler.
"Do you not know that taking those watermelons is the same thing as robbing that Mr. Howell?" My dad bellowed. I was then scared out of my skin.
"How do you figure, dad?" I asked in my best Perry Mason tone.
"Stealing is stealing any way you slice it. You broke the law and I think that you need to do the right thing and tell Mr. Howell that you were as guilty as the Childers boys," Dad advised which reminded me of King Solomon. I kept my mouth shut.
"But dad, James, Gary and Glenn already took care OT it. They told the Mr. Howell how sorry "we" were and swore that we would never steal any watermelons again," I said in confidence.
Mom and dad looked at each other and smiled.
Thank God for great parents and great friends.
November 24, 2020_____________________________________________
URL's of Photos Above:
Now In Honor to Our Watermelon Raid
I want to sincerely apologize not only to Mr. Howell, O'Neal Childers, My dad, Austin Avery and my mom, Mary Dean Avery, for thinking that we, the Childrers Crew (me included) could pull-off such a thing as stealing someone else's watermelons. But the melons were the sweetest things that we ever ate. Have to be honest about that.
And to prove that I am sorry for this crime . . .I offer you this delicious recipe for :
Delicious, Tasty Watermelon Jam
This recipe is very, very easy and works each time that you make it! Makes perfectly set jam that tastes like pure-concentrated watermelon that you can taste in the summer! Look no more! This is the only watermelon jam that you can ask for.
Serves: 20 servings
2 Cps. liquified watermelon
¼ Cp. lemon juice, fresh
2 Cps. sugar, white
6 tbsp (2 pkgs) pectin, fine powdered (tagged as "low sugar" or "no sugar needed")
⦁ Put liquified watermelon, lemon juice and sugar in pot. Heat to a rolling boil, Reduce heat now to simmer.
⦁ Add pectin, whisk it with handheld whisk or a fork ASAP, as it dissolves--no worries about clumping.
⦁ Increase watermelon jam boiling again, bring down heat to simmer and stir every minute--20 minutes.
⦁ Pour watermelon jam into a mason jar. Watermelon jam will set at once it's cooled.
⦁ Watermelon jam can be canned, or can store it in refrigerator (it will stay fresh for up to 1 month).
Enjoy. And have a Safe and Delicious Thanksgiving!
© 2020 Kenneth Avery
Denise McGill from Fresno CA on November 28, 2020:
You didn't get it as bad as my dad would have given it to me if I had stolen. I have to admit I thought of it once or twice but could never have carried it off. My conscious hurt just thinking about it.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 25, 2020:
Happy Thanksgiving to you too, and thanks for sharing your watermelon caper with us. While it may never be the subject for an "Oceans Eleven" film, it did make me smile at the boyish caper.