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 driving again.

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 a man."

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


Posted here courtesy of Midway Publications - Copyright 1999 William T. Usher All rights reserved


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