My Home Town: Gerald Swindle

“Sacred ground, to me what I’m standing on is sacred ground.  Where I’m standing, this used to be our family farm, back where that blue truck we had 5,000 pepper plants, over there by that other house we had rows and rows and rows of watermelon and beans, I spent several years of my life on a tractor plowing these fields.

“I would go to school, when I was older I would go to work, then come home to the farm here and start working the crops until dark, I learned hundreds of lessons about life while up on that old tractor.

“It’s out here where I learned about hard work, hard work.  Learned to never quit, never question, learned to work as a team with my brothers as we all worked all day picking Okra. On the weekends we would be out here working dawn to dark, we had to, this farm was our livelihood.

“My father always used to tell us, ‘An Idle Mind is the Devil’s Workshop’ and I believe that to be right, he had us working out here all the time, we would work and we would go to school and we would do our homework and play sports, but we would be working, and you know what, I think Dad was right, this field kept me out of a lot of trouble, sacred ground this is.”

“Meet my babysitter.  Whenever I did have any free time, I would jump on my bicycle and ride down to my friend Todd Bakers house and we would go fishing in the pond in his back yard.

“This was my Disneyworld, right here.  It was like an ocean to two young boys, can’t tell you how much I fished this pound with Todd, it was the first pond I ever fished, and boy did we fish it, I think I caught every fish in it three times.

“It was like a nursery for our parents, they knew we would come down here, and never leave until they called for us or it got to dark to fish.  We would fish and fish but we only had one lure each so when that lure got hung up, if we just let it go we would be done fishing, so we would quickly strip down, take all our clothes off and jump in naked and get our lure back, then run back up on shore get all our clothes back on and start fishing again.  Had to go in skinny dippin’ because if our parents saw our clothes were wet we would be in big trouble.”

“This was my BassPro Shop.  Marsh’s country store.  I would check for money in couches, in and under the bench seat of my father’s truck, pick up pennies in the street, and when I had me $1.99, Todd and I would jump on our bikes and ride down here to buy us a brand new Rapala Jerkbait for our Zebco 33’s.

“We would drop our bikes right by the porch, run in, the wood doors would bang shut, we would run down the wood floors to this glass case of lures.

“Dan, the owner, always wore LIBERTY overalls and sold pretty much anything you would need in the store, we would look and gawk at the lures in that case, and then after much deliberation pick out just the right lure, give Dan our $1.99, jump back on our bikes and peddle as fast as we could back to the pound and stay there until dark just throwin’ the you know what out of that lure.

“Yep right here is where I bought the first lure of my life.  Couple blocks from here is where I caught my first fish with Todd, bought my first lure here, it all started right here.”

“My graduating class had 87 students, back then there couldn’t have been more that 500 people living in town.  I went from Elementary through High School right here.

“I was pretty much a “C” student, pretty average, but I had this one teacher, Mr. Moss, an English teacher, he was a pretty eccentric kind of guy, but he had this way of teaching that you would learn stuff even if you didn’t want to.  Learned a lot from him even though at the time I didn’t know it.