By Norris Chambers

 There were several cemeteries in the back county. Some of them had a church building adjoining and some didn’t. Those without churches usually had a large brush arbor with wooden benches for the audience. In case you are not familiar with a brush arbor it was a shaded port constructed with posts supporting more posts that were used as beams. Brush was piled on top of the beams to form a roof. The roof wasn’t very effective in protecting the audience from rain but worked well in forming a shade during the hot days of summer.

            At most of these cemeteries a day was designated as Decoration Day each spring. The community residents brought tools and cleaned the cemetery and decorated the graves. This was a morning activity. A “Dinner on the Grounds” feast was spread on makeshift tables and everyone enjoyed a good meal. In the afternoon there was usually some preaching and much singing under the brush arbor or in the church building.

            When Clifton and I were quite young our families attended the Decoration Day at a cemetery where many of our ancestors were buried. The family members attended to the decoration and dinner preparation and Clifton and I wandered around to see what we could do to have fun.

            Someone had brought a big galvanized water tank on a wagon and parked it under a big shade tree. There were several tin cups around it and a goodly crowd of kids and thirsty cemetery workers.  We made frequent trips to the water tank and sipped some of the cool water. Some kind soul had put one or more blocks of ice in the tank and it was cooling the water quite well.

            On one of these trips there was a big boy at the tank who gave us a mean look. When Clifton began filling his cup the kid slapped it out of his hand and caused him to spill the water on his pants. He then began to laugh and pointed at the wet pants. This sudden attack was a shock to Clifton . He hit the big boy in the stomach. The bully recovered quickly and grabbed Clifton by the neck pulling him to the ground. He had a good grip and Clifton was having a hard time breaking loose. I grabbed the fellow’s foot and started twisting as hard as I could. He turned Clifton loose and jumped up to deal with me. Clifton jumped up behind him and landed a solid lick on the back of his neck. I started hammering on him with both fists. I guess there were too many fists pounding him because he started running toward the brush that surrounded the area. We chased him awhile but he was too fast for us and escaped. We went back to the water tank.

            We saw him sneak back toward the tank a few times but when he saw us he retreated. I guess he didn’t think about having to fight two when he jumped on Clifton .

            Clifton and I kept him away from the water tank for at least an hour while the singing was in progress in the brush arbor. We couldn’t catch him to give him any further punishment for his crime!

            Trouble came when Clifton ’s dad decided it was time to leave and the family loaded into the truck and left. My mother and dad were still in the arbor where the singing was in full swing. The big boy noticed immediately that I was alone and took full advantage of the situation. I headed for the cemetery and he started chasing me. He was faster than I was and he caught me almost immediately. He pushed me and I fell forward into the sand. I started to get up and he kicked me in the side. I made another attempt and the same thing happened again. He sat down on a low tomb stone and laughed. Every time I tried to get up he came over and kicked me again. I could hear the singing in the arbor. I still remember the song – Rock of Ages cleft for me! I must have laid there a half hour while the sound of the hymns kept praising the Lord. The big guy just sat there and laughed. It didn’t seem very funny to me.

            Eventually my dad started hunting for me when they were ready to leave. He found me there in the cemetery lying on the ground. When he walked up the big guy walked away. I finally finished explaining what had happened. All my dad said was. “Fighting is not always the best way to settle a difference!”  I agreed with him.

            Is there a moral to this tale – I think it is so plain that there is no need to point it out. Don’t start something violent with someone else’s help if you can’t finish it by yourself.