Playmates

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It is wonderful to have good friends that share our interests, concerns, fun times and not-so fun times. Friends are special blessings.  From early childhood, I can name many whom I cherish as friends, but though we had many fun times, a playmate is in another category. When I reminisce back to my playmates, one name comes to mind---Nick Herrington. 

The Herrington family, Mr. Seab, Mrs. Lucille and Nick, moved into the apartment in the house of Mrs. Harley Brown just across Bell St. from my home Mrs. Brown was a widow who supplemented her income by renting half of her house as an apartment. Many children lived there through the years---but my memorable playmate was Nick.  


Mr. Herrington came to Swainsboro in late forties to be manager of the new A&P store and introduced us to many unknown delights. Since Nick and I were inseparable in our playing, Mrs. Lucille often made a picnic for us to eat under the big tree. The sandwich was always made with Peter Pan Peanut Butter. I had eaten lots of peanut butter but none as creamy and spreadable as Peter Pan. Our beverage was made from red powder from a can, mixed with water in a pitcher and poured over ice. The time was near the end of WWII, and Cokes were scarce due to rationing of sugar. This was my introduction to---you guessed it---Kool Ade.


Except for time in school, Nick and I spent every possible, waking hour in play. All it took was saying, “let’s play like” and we became Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Tarzan and Jane or whatever we had recently seen at the Dixie. In one of our “play likes” my Dale was slinging a jump rope around in the air as a lasso. The jump rope had wooden handles. Nick was in my range, and the handle popped him just above his eyebrow. Blood gushed out. My Saeb was sitting at the kitchen table eating his noon meal and watching us playing outside. When he saw the accident and blood, he jumped from the back steps, gathered Nick in his arms and raced up the block to Dr. Brown’s hospital. I ran right behind them following the trail of blood---terrified. I sat on the steps of the hospital sobbing. I knew when I saw the blood that Nick would surely die. Aside from concern for him, I knew if I had killed Nick, I was in big trouble.

Shortly, Mr. Seab came out with Nick in his arms and a few stitches above his eyebrow. The only consequence was my jump rope was put away for a while and used only for jumping in the future. My father grew a special red grape on the huge vine in our back yard. The early fall grapes were not for eating but wine making. Mr. Seab contributed the needed sugar to add to the grapes that would ferment in a large crock with a spigot.  Don’t know how they judged when the juice had fermented into wine, but it did. Mr. Seab and my father often ended their work day sitting together under the grapevine enjoying a glass of homemade wine before supper.  Nick and I watched them open the spigot and fill their glass with what looked delicious to us. Of course, we determined to secretly give it a try on our own, and we did. We found a time with none of our parents nearby and opened the spigot to each fill a tea glass with the lovely purple drink. We found it tasty, sweet and felt really good as it went down our throat but did not expect what happened next.

I remember a lot of “sickness” and feeling dizzy. My mother asked, “What is wrong with you?” I answered, “Seems like I am going crazy.” Nick was having the same experience. I think the “morning after” condition lasted for all the next day. Our parents discussed punishment but decided that we had been punished enough.  Nick and I laughed about this every time we met in the future. He always referred to this as, “The time we got into our Daddy’s wine.”
The years passed, and Nick and I were always friends but no longer playmates. Later we connected again when Nick and my future husband were in the same fraternity at Georgia Tech.

When I saw his obituary in the Blade, I felt sorrow in the loss of my old playmate but pride and joy in the life time of the man. After graduating from Tech, he was commissioned and served his commitment to the US Army. After active duty, he and Annelle returned to make his hometown their home. Nick began his career with Swainsboro Supply Company that had been started by his father and grown with much success. Nick continued to own and manage the company for more than forty years. Swainsboro Supply was a hallmark company in the business growth of Swainsboro.   Nick and Annelle were a vital part of every aspect of the growth and quality of life in your (and my hometown). Nick, I know you fulfilled you parent’s greatest dreams for you.
Rest in Peace, my old playmate, with dreams of a childhood of happy play, and a manhood of love and fulfillment dancing through your head. Write to Shirley at sptwiss@gmail.com

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