Our life of excess and extravagance could not last forever. In the wink of an eye, we packed up and left the Hotel Jericho for a little track-side house in the hamlet of Ruffin, which is little more than a railroad crossing on the Lowcountry Highway.
Our new house did have its luxuries. I remember the day we arrived. My younger brother David and I discovered our new home came with its own playground: an old metal swing set, an old, half-empty bottle of soda complete with an escort of hornets, and a shed in the back.
Every hot, sweaty night, freight trains would thunder by, shaking the house as they passed, and blasting through the cacophony of insect songs.
I remember walking up the tracks with my older brother Al. We would pass the occasional odd shoe, and Al would tell me stories about how people would slip and get trapped under the tracks. Al denies telling me such stories to this day. Perhaps he forgot. I certainly didn’t!
I started kindergarten in Ruffin, and that’s about all. I can’t remember anything about that kindergarten, except for the first teary, terrifying day. We probably didn’t leave Ruffin long after that day. Before long we were following the tracks to Walterboro, where Mom and Dad hoped to make a better living.
© 2006 Dan J. Jensen