When Alex’s rubber tired wagon was a runaway

Published 9:18 am Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In the early fall of 1944, I had just celebrated my 10th birthday.

It was the third year of fighting on both German and Japanese fronts of World War II, and times were hard for everyone. Rationing of numerous foodstuffs and basic necessities was still in full effect.

My family rented a small house on the south side of Hwy. 14, just below the home of Charlie and Susie West. We tended a large garden and several acres of land belonging to Mr. West between our house and the South Pacolet River.

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In order to make some cash money, my father rented the Bowden bottoms off Hwy. 11 and Arledge Road and planted them in corn. The rich soil gave us a bumper crop.

With gas rationing, we could not drive an older truck to haul the corn from the bottoms to our house or to points of sale. We did have tires and tubes on the dormant truck, so my father got a bright idea.

He converted our one-horse wagon from wooden spoke wheels to homemade axles and hubs that would utilize the rubber tires and tubes from the unused truck.

In traveling 4 miles to the bottoms and a return trip along the highways, the rubber-tired wagon attracted quite a bit of attention from residents along the route, and particularly from motorists who met or came up behind the wagon.

The highways were rough, tar and gravel roadways, nothing like the smooth asphalt strips of the present day.

One Saturday’s trip to the bottoms to gather corn ended in pain for my uncle Marshall and me.

We crossed the bridge over the South Pacolet and had climbed to the top of a hill, where the tar and gravel road began a steep decline toward Landrum.