Tri-City Ledger -

By Earline Smith Crews
Guest Writer 

The Christmas with Buddy's Radio Flyer


December 6, 2018

Christmas season brings such sweet memories and I have the need to share.

So, my baby brother, three years younger than I, James Carlton ( Buddy) was the pet of ALL the Smith side of our family.

Uncles claimed him, aunts hugged him extra tight, boy cousins thought he was the pick of the litter,

girl cousins stepped over me to hug him and say,

" Y'all look how sweet he is".

I just thought of him as something to get our fun projects made "funner".

See, Buddy was the last boy in a long line of Smith boys, so there you have it.

Two older brothers, one older sister, then me and Buddy followed by four little sisters. I had to help care for the little sisters, but Buddy was mine in helping invent the good times.

One December the spirit entered Buddy to beg for a Radio Flyer wagon, fire engine red. He saw those up high on shelves at Ollie Gilmore's Store in Wallace, Fore's Store in Robinsonville and at Watson's Hardware in Atmore. Daddy couldn't get by without Buddy reminding him how Santa Claus maybe would bring one to him for Christmas.

Guess what?


Sitting under the little spindly cedar Christmas tree was a Radio Flyer wagon in fire engine red. Some green on the wheels with strips and lettering in white.

I honestly cannot remember what my toy was that year, but I have a crystal clear memory of that wagon.

The day opened with the sky falling in frog stranglings. Daddy had all our fireplaces loaded and roaring hot with big knots of fat littered wood. The celebration was full on all over the house as Mama cooked our Christmas meal. I can still feel the warmth and smell those smells.

Best of all was Buddy needing me to push him in his new wagon. I pushed him about 10 times all through the house to earn one ride for myself.

Let me set the layout in a mental visual here.

Our house, unfinished inside, had the doors framed without any doors that closed except the front and back ones. From the front bedroom into the living/bed/fireplace room down through the dining room, into the boy's bedroom cutting a circle, turn into another bedroom to cut sharp and leave black rubber tire marks on those longleaf yellow pine plank floors to across the dining room again and into and through the kitchen, on into Mama and Daddy's bedroom, on to the girls bedroom, cutting hard to reenter the front room, across and into the first bedroom again to cut hard, leave more rubber marks and continue again while screaming with sheer delight.

Daddy sat in front of that fireplace enjoying his deadly affair with Prince Albert. Mama worked her magic with her pots and pans, little sisters played at the edge of our raceway to avoid the danger.

I have to imagine our older brothers were somewhere hunting or checking to see what their friends were doing.

We stopped just long enough to gobble up our dinner and hit the raceway again.

Buddy and I negotiated my turn with me getting the short end of the stick. But it was worth the wait. Buddy sat guiding the tongue while I bent down to push as fast as I could with my skinny legs pumping and my dresstail flying over my hind quarters.

What fun!

The afternoon was loud and tiring. Daddy was dozing by the fire, Mama was placating the youngest littler sister. All was well in our world until..............

The axel broke on that little Radio Flyer wagon in fire engine red.

The whole thing collapsed and scraped the sheetrock wall with Buddy's noggin.

Dead silence.

Buddy cried, I cried.

We slunk into the room where Daddy sat and watched his face.

I squeezed a pee.

Buddy wiped tears of snot.

Daddy flicked a half smoked Prince Albert into the fire, picked up that Radio Flyer wagon in fire engine red and walked out.

Buddy and I sat and waited for the switching we knew was coming.

We both felt sad that it was all over for his Christmas present.

Loneliness of spirit set in that evening.

In about an hour Daddy walked back in holding that little wagon and pointing to a new axel.

He had taken it to the barn to find a piece of iron bar, bored holes, reset the wheels, inserted new iron pins to hold the wheels on and made it better and hopefully indestructible.

Only thing Daddy said was,

"You young'uns can tear up Christmas faster than Santa Claus can make it back home to the North Pole."

*** Buddy and I talked about that little wagon and neither of us could remember what happened to it.



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