Doris Leininger remembers the vagabonds 2012.02.01

Written by David Green.

When Doris Leininger read that the Observer was collecting hitch hiking stories, she stopped by to tell some stories that might best be described as vagabond tales.

She presented three recollections from her childhood:

When I was a little girl, probably about eight or nine, we lived just off 127 north of the Triangle [the curves west of Fayette]. My dad was out fixing fence and a man came up to him. This was the first black man I’d ever seen.

“Do you think your missus could fix me something to eat?” he asked.

My father told him to go up by the barn and call to the house.

“Tell her I told her to fix you something,” my father said.

She made a couple of fried egg sandwiches and got a bottle of milk and had my brother, Russell, take it out to him.

The man took the food back out to where my father was working and sat down to eat. When he was done, he put the empty bottle up on the fence post and left.

I was at my cousin’s south of Fayette and stayed overnight. In the morning we went out to the barn to play in the hay mow. It was all loose hay back then.

We climbed the ladder and there lay a man sleeping. We went back down the ladder faster than we went up it.

One day several cars stopped in front of our family’s home and little kids ran out holding pails and headed for the chicken coop. The missus came up to the house and said, “Have you got a chicken to spare? We have someone sick and we need to make them broth.”

About that time my uncle came around the corner holding a gun. It wasn’t loaded. He told them to hit the road.

“Those were hard times,” Doris said. “Some people think these are hard times now. They don’t know what hard times are.”

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