Then because Mom had relatives living in Cumberland,
Maryland, she decided to spend the winter months there. She
leased a duplex house with four apartments, rented three
out, then went to work in a juice joint that served three
meals a day to railroad workers who worked a few blocks away
at the B&O Railroad Shops.
Dad worked for the railroad, painting and striping the call
and sequel boards for use in the railroad stations in
different parts of the country.
When spring came, Dad, Buster and I started readying up the
sideshow equipment for the coming season. This meant
painting the ticket boxes, banner line, touching up the
banners, etc. "Bus" and I were going to school but when
school was out, we pitched in and helped Dad.
At the time, none of us were aware that Mom and Snyder, the
chief bookkeeper of the B&O Railroad, had something going on
between them (he was the catch of the year). He was
unmarried, well dressed, had a new car, a chauffeur to drive
it and money in the bank.
So, when it came time for the carnivals to open, Mom told
Dad that if he went back on the road, he would have to go
alone because she, Buster and I were gonna stay in
Cumberland so us boys could get an education. That was her
excuse to stay in Cumberland.
Dad took off to parts unknown with all the show equipment.
He never drew a dime out of their joint account.
The following year Mom got a divorce from Dad on the grounds
of desertion and married the 'catch of the year,' Snyder.
Man, what a catch he was and yeah, he had a good, steady
job, money in the bank, dressed in fine clothes and had a
chauffeur driven car. The reason for the chauffeur was
because Snyder had been pinched for drunken driving a half
dozen times and faced a long prison term if he was caught
Mom and Dad used to have a few squabbles but he never raised
a hand to hit her. He always said "a man that hit a woman
was nothing but a coward. If they wanted to hit someone, hit
Dad never contested the divorce. He figured that if she
wanted a divorce, it was all over between them anyway, so
why bother with a court battle and spend a lot of scratch.
Well, I came home one night after seeing a football game and
Snyder had Mom down on the floor on her back and was beating
the hell out of her with his fist. Her nose and mouth were
bleeding and she was screaming to high heaven. I got hold of
his shirt collar and pulled him off
her. He stood up , looked at me wide-eyed and drawed back
his arm to hit me (that was a mistake). Back then, I was a
pretty husky boy and had been in a few fights with marks and
knew how to slug.
Mom wound up with a busted lip and two shiners. Snyder ended
up in the emergency room with a broken nose and a hare lip,
plus three fractured rids and a lump above his right eye.
Me, I wound up in the county jail with cracked knuckles. Ten
days later at the hearing, the judge gave me two years for
assault with intent to kill but suspended the sentence if I
agreed to leave the state indefinitely.
It so happened that Snyder damn sure wanted to get me away
from Cumberland (as far away as possible) so he and his
lawyer did a little fixing with the district attorney and
the judge to do just that.
They also contacted Dad and explained the situation to him
and asked if he would accept the responsibility of raising
me. Dad must have agreed, because the judge said that he had
a bus ticket to where Dad was and fifty dollars for expense
money. Without hesitating, I agreed.
One of the deputies escorted me to the bus station and
waited till I got on the bus. As it pulled out, I looked
through the window and waved good-bye. As I did, he winked
at me with a smile and waved back, because he knew I was
making the right move.
Believe it or not, Mom never came to see me while I was in
jail, or at the hearing, or at the bus station to say
good-bye. It would be ten years before I ever saw her again.
That was when they laid my Uncle Elmer to rest. Then she
didn't even say hello.
To be Continued