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Just Trying to Make a Living
A Story About Ausie White by Larry Dixon

A solitary rider sat silently on the seat of the of the one horse farming wagon filled with freshly cut limbs and brush. The dusty brown hat with its wide brim was loosely sitting on his nodding head. It was shading the solid black hair protruding from under his head band and protecting the owner’s sun baked face and neck from the scorching noon day sun. All that could be hear echoing through the now deserted farm fields was the rhythmic clopping of the horses shod feet on the unpaved road and the periodic squeaking of dry wood against dry wood from the old farm wagon as it slowly eased along. Why would this lonesome traveler be hauling a wagon load of freshly cut limbs and branches down a little traveled road after leaving the small town of Center?

Sitting all alone on the wagon seat with only the horse to keep him company gives a man plenty of time to think. His high cheek bones and black hair came from his grandmother White’s side of the family. She had been a slave from India, brought to Georgia and owned by a man named Adams. He still remembers her story of when the a Turkish war ship had fired on the unarmed slave ship, destroying the main sails and sending the ship into a hopelessly drifting in the open sea . Two weeks later the crippled ship and its half starved cargo of slaves were finally rescued. After the emancipation proclamation , she and her illegitimate son James were finally freed of her owner. She later married a man named William White. Her son James proudly took his step fathers name and was then know as James William White. Ausie never knew his grand mother Martin . She had died years earlier in south Georgia from child birth.

He didn’t feel safe traveling on the deserted road and especially if people knew what he had hidden under the limbs and leaves in the wagon. A majority of the individuals were honest and hard working but the failing economy and a man’s hungry wife and children had turned some good men in to bad. The economic depression had started out similar to an old steam locomotive. As it began slowly building up steam the only ones affected were a selected small number of individuals who had foolishly lost their money in the stock market. But at full steam it was devastating the whole nation and people who had lost their jobs, their homes and self pride were starving and living in cardboard shacks.

The light at the end of the tunnel for many of them was the creation of the W.PA. A new government program was created to put money back into the economy by providing employment for the thousands of unemployed workers. The new hires were to work on buildings and repairing roads and bridges. Ausie had been one of the first in the area to apply for one of the many hundreds of job but had been quickly turned away. It made Ausie extremely angry to know that his Lovie and children were forced to wear patched clothing and darned socks because the government has classified him a farmer. He had worked hard all of his life and served time in the military but he couldn’t have a job because he was a farmer.

Alcohol doesn’t solve problems it just makes things worse. Ausie was mad, real mad and maybe a cold beer would simmer him down. The devil’s ice tea doesn’t solve problems. It brings all of your troubles and frustrations festering to the top. The drunker he got the angrier he got. “That wasn’t fair to make my family suffer like that.” he said. When the officials Ausie approaching the courthouse with a large metal pipe they all ran. He walked systematically up to each piece if machinery displayed on the courthouse lawn and broke all of the handles, knobs and gadgets off the new equipment. The sheriff, Mac Garrett, was ordered to arrest Ausie and throw him in jail. Mac assured the mayor that Ausie would be placed in jail for public drunkenness and destruction of government property. Ausie was handcuffed, placed in the patrol car and driven toward the county jail. Mac Garrett was compassionate sheriff and aware what Ausie had just been through. He by passed the jail house and carried him home. No charges were ever filled.

After being refused the job with the W P A and being responsible for a wife and two young daughters, Ausie knew he had to provide for his family the best way he could. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It was said that at times he would carry a brown gallon jug of kerosene down the main street of Center Alabama. While holding the gallon jug securely with his right index finger in the glass loop , he would often stop and talk with Mac Garrett, the county sheriff while on his way deliver the jug to certain individuals in town. Some time the best way to conceal some thing is to hide it out in the wide open for every one to see. The brown gallon jug wasn’t filled with kerosene. It was filled with a high grade of distilled liquor. Ausie was transporting moonshine down the main street under the eyes of the police. It wasn’t a full time job but just something to help put food on the table. Desperate times call for desperate actions. Some one offered Ausie a ridiculously high price for his new boots that Ausie couldn’t turn down. He actually sold the shoes off of his feet and walked from the town of Center to home barefooted because he needed the money. Numerous rabbit boxes were placed on the wind breakers of fields do catch wild rabbits to eat and sell. Them along with milk, butter, eggs and any thing they could make or produce was sold to the people in town.

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