Saturday, April 21, 2007

"Tis The Season To Be Sweaty."

In a way I felt sorry for Richard, but not really. Allow me to explain.
Richard was his real name. He lived next door to Jimmy Cassady on Harriot Street in Beaumont, just one block away from Daniel’s Bakery.

The Cassadys had a nice large old house. The lot next to them was vacant. This made a nice safe side yard where kids could play without getting too close to the traffic on Harriot Street.

Jimmy and I were big sophomores at South Park High School. Richard was just a sixth grader. When he would see us older boys out playing in that side yard, he would want to play. Now that’s understandable. Richard wanted and needed to belong in our group.

But there was something else that was understandable though not exactly right. Jimmy and I did not want Richard hanging out with us. Remember, we were in high school and Richard was just a sixth grader. Since when did high school guys want sixth graders milling around?

One summer afternoon Jimmy and I were resting in the shade of our favorite tallow tree, located beside the Cassady’s house. Over across the side yard there were carpenters repairing the front porch of Richard’s house. Jimmy and I commented on how hot it was for those men to be working outside.

Richard came over and asked us, “Whatcha doing?” We replied that we were resting. Then Richard asked, “How come you’re resting?” We explained that it was too hot to do much else. Richard kept on, “Aw c’mon, let’s do something.”

I asked Richard if he could sing? He answered in the affirmative. We told him to sing a song for us. He said he didn’t know anything but some Christmas Carols. We asked him what his favorite Carol was and he answered, “Joy To The World.” We asked him to sing that one so he sang through the first verse of Joy To The World. He missed a few words and changed his pitch a few times. But all in all he did a good job for a sixth grader.

We assured him that he did a great job with that song. Then we said, “Richard, look at those men over at your house working out in the hot sun. They must be burning up.” We suggested that he ought to go over and cheer them up by singing them a few Christmas Carols.

Richard didn’t want to go at first but we assured him that he had a great voice and that those poor men working in the heat of the day needed a refreshing serenade. So, Richard went over and stood behind the men as they worked. He started out with, “Joy To The World.” The men glanced over at him but continued on with their work. Then Richard concluded with a rendition of, “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

Richard came back over to where we were. We complimented him and told him how thoughtful he was to sing for those men as they worked. Richard perked up and felt really good about himself. Then he said, “Think I’ll go back over and sing for them again.” We agreed that would be a noble deed.

While Richard was busy singing his second concert, Jimmy and I eased into Jimmy’s house. Through an open window we could still hear Richard as he struggled to remember the words to, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.”

So in a way, I am sorry we teased Richard like that. But on the other hand, it made him feel good and who knows? Maybe it made those men feel better, too.

Winston Hamby
The Beaumont Enterprise


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