The Road Crew: A very short story by Shirly Hook

Braintree resident Shirly Hook is working on an essay collection about her Abenaki heritage and her childhood in Chelsea, Vermont

When I was growing up, in the fifties and sixties, the roads were mostly raked by hand. The men would start early in the morning, before it got too hot, and start tending to the road, raking and doing whatever else had to be done. My grandfather was one of the workers. He usually was dressed in bib overalls, a T-shirt, and some sort of head covering. Actually, all the men seemed to have the same style of dressing. He was very short and thin, with whiskers on his lined face. He reminded me of Willie Nelson. He smoked Camels and chewed Red Man tobacco, just like all the rest of the crew.

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When the crew was working on our dirt road, we really enjoyed them. They seemed to plan it that they would be in front of my parents about lunchtime. My parents let us join them for lunch. They usually had something extra for us, such as an apple, orange, cookies, or a sugar cube. Grandfather would have sugar cubes, because he was a diabetic.

 We would sit on the side of the road and think we were one of the crew. They would treat us that way. They would carry on a conversation about anything.

After lunch was over, they would continue up the road. We watched them until they were out of sight. With one last wave, we would return to our chores or playing.

The Korongo Reader publishes stories by and about the people of central Vermont. We will be hosting another series of free writing workshops at Kimball Library in Randolph this fall. Subscribe to this blog for updates.

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