THE WATERMELON CAPER
Musing With Cecil Buffington
The Watermelon Caper
Early Jefferson was saturated with farms. My little home village of Porterville included the Brooks, Brazeale, McGinnis, Covington and Blackstock farms. A slight bearing to the right in front of the Faith Baptist Church would take you to the Porter and Ben Wright farms just a few miles up the road. The Jimmy Johnson farm was probably the biggest local farm of the time located just outside Jefferson where it remains to this day.
I knew most of the aforementioned farmers fairly well. I believe I had more interaction with Hoke Covington than any of the Jefferson-Porterville farmers.
His son, Buster, was one of our "Porterville pack." I think I spent more time as a youngster with Johnny Pruitt and Buster Covington than I did with anyone other than my brother, Jack.
It was in a Hoke Covington cotton field that I picked cotton for the only time in my life. I think I may have picked a pound or so before running from that field and never returning.
One of the most memorable adventures of my youth occured when I was 11 years old and involved Hoke Covington. Every planting season Mr. Covington would plant a watermelon patch across the road from his home about a half-mile from the Bennett home. When my friend Johnny Pruitt and I found his watermelon patch we started carrying the melons through the woods to a big water hole on the George McGinnis property. We must have put 30 to 40 melons in the branch where we would break them open and eat the heart out of them at our leisure.
Well, Hoke Covington found the water hole and drove my grandmother down to the location. When she confronted me about it, I not only received a serious switching, but she made me carry every watermelon up that big hill to the Covington house and place it on his front porch.
It took me just about all day to carry those melons almost a mile to that porch. I well remember when I placed that last melon on his porch. Mr. Covington told me he appreciated it, and I could have a melon if I wanted it. After a quick, "Thanks, but no thanks", I got out of there as quickly as possible.
I don't recall ever stealing another watermelon or anything else from that day forward. I sincerly hope the good Lord has seen fit to forgive me for that youthful indescretion.
My grandmother had sat on the bank in a chair and watched as I pulled the melons from the water and carried them to the Covington house.
You can bet this was a lesson well learned.
The "Melon Incidence" was never mentioned to me again after that day as far as I can recall by my grandmother or Mr. Covington.
It became another memory of my fun times of growing up in Porterville, Georgia.
The Covington family consisted of Hoke and Maybelle, Carolyn, Buster and Janice. One of the finest and nicest families I ever had the pleasure to know.
Look at those beady eyes and snarling lips. A picture of an 11 year old watermelon thief. Thank goodness for my grandmothers switch. I might have become another Billy The Kid.
My grandmother, Mrs. Emma Bennett and daughter Kathy, around 1970.