Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Remembering ‘Juggle Buggies’

Juanita Agan-1Those of us who have grandchildren today cannot keep from comparing our own youthful days with the present generation of young people. First thing that comes to mind is - CARS. Drive by the high school parking lot and down the side streets just as school closes each day.

Notice how many of them have cars - not the ''juggle buggies" a few had in our day, but nice cars, expensive cars.

Almost all of us had to walk wherever we went. A few parents carried their children to school in the family car, but the rest, almost 99 percent, walked.

Some lived a long way from school, but too close for the school bus to pick up. It was hard to get into too much trouble if you had to walk, everywhere.

Cars make it possible for young people today to go to nearby towns where they are exposed to many temptations that Minden does not offer. Money to buy the cars and money for gasoline is plentiful among our current young people.

Many families back in the thirties did not own cars. Carter Norman remembered that his aunt, Mrs. Larkin David, taught him to drive in the David car. I learned to drive when I went to work for the local Ford dealer, Andress Motors Company. I had worked several years before I decided to learn how to drive, and was almost 23 before I got a drivers' license

I was looking at pictures of our "Senior Day" in 1939, and saw about the only car that any of our classmates possessed. It was a Ford Model "A", that had to be cranked with a crank. It was an open-air touring car.

You could hear it coming long before it appeared because about thirty miles an hour was top speed. It broke down many times, and the hood was lifted from both sides because back then they hinged the hoods in the middle of the hood.

All the riders in the car would get out and peer into the motor and wonder what to adjust or try to repair. I don't remember anyone being embarrassed because they had to walk. The pictures show that the young men who were in the old Ford were happy, in fact "happy-go-lucky" from the smiles on their faces.

And then I remember the parties, not like the parties of today that young people attend. One of the highlights in the life of young people in the thirties was an old fashioned hayride. The young people of First Baptist Church were fortunate to have members of the Turner family in our congregation. Turner Bros. Lumber Company would furnish a flat bed truck and spread a bale of hay on it to protect our clothes.

Just as many as we could cram on that truck without falling off would ride either to Stewart's Pond or out to Caney Lake. Stewart's Pond was out the Shreveport Road on the right just before you reach the present day site of LAAP.

It was a small pond on a farm owned by some Minden residents who were willing for our young people to have a party there.

There was always a flat-bottomed boat tied nearby and some of the more adventuresome would paddle out into the water. Not me, because when you hear "Chicken of the Sea" it does not mean a brand of Tuna Fish, it means me. Others gathered sticks and fallen limbs to build a bonfire. Our refreshments would be toasted marshmallows and occasionally we had a wienie roast.

Each person was responsible for either a coat hanger or a piece of wood sharpened to hold the marshmallows that we would toast over the fire. True enough, the marshmallow would be burnt black on one side and white and untoasted on the other, but we thought it was "nectar from the gods" because of the fun we had toasting them.

Caney Lake was not like it is today. There was no expense involved in going there. There were grills and tables that we could use for our parties.

As for the entertainment, it too was simple. All the way out there (the truck drove very slowly) and back we sang old songs - choruses such as "Bill Grogan's Goat", "Ninety-Nine Bottles Hanging on the Wall" and "I'm Still Respected".

There were many old ditties that we harmonized on such as "Underneath the Bamboo Tree" and others.

After we had eaten, we gathered around the bonfire and sat on the ground. Someone would start a scary story, often a ghost story. The fire cast eerie shadows on faces and the background. We were many times literally scared "to death" of these stories, but we loved them.

Another free pastime was getting together at someone's home where there was a piano and sing. Many times every chair in the home was utilized and the rest of us either sat on the floor or crowded around the piano.

I remember going to the W. C. McKinney home for a sing-a-long and "Bootsie" McKinney would be with us. He later became Dr. James Carroll McKinney, Dean of the Music School at the Southwestern Theological Seminary. '

Some Minden young people went out to places on the Shreveport Road where there was dancing.

My mother threatened not to just whip me but "kill" me if I ever darkened the door at one of these places. She was adamant on the matter of dancing. I never learned how to dance nor did I even try.

I love to watch dancing all the way from ballroom dancing to the most modern dances. Often the dancers have the partners standing two feet apart. I cannot see how Mama would object to that. No matter how much I loved the music and how much I liked to see people dance, it never occurred to me to disobey my mother.

I am sure that there were other things that Minden young people were doing then just as today - the present generation did not invent sex and drinking, but there was none of that at the parties most of us attended.

We had many adults who worked with us and I cannot remember them having any discipline problems with us. One who worked faithfully with the young people in our church was the late Mrs. Freeman Rogers (mother of Mrs. Tom Alley). She was such a lovely lady that was and will be remembered as always young. She had such a chuckle when she laughed and was so patient and loving to our young people. Our parents would have seen to it that we gave no problems.

Of course, when liability laws governing the use of trucks came about, that was the end of dozens of young people draping themselves over the lumber yard flatbed trucks.

I do not remember anybody ever getting hurt, not even a scratch, but the insurance companies frowned on using trucks for this purpose.

The Depression kept life simple back in the thirties, but life was sweet. Simple pleasures that did not cost much, if anything, but made life happy. There is no way to go back to that lifestyle, but we can live it again in memories.

Juanita Agan submitted a weekly column to the Press-Herald for more than 15 years before her death in 2008. She was a resident of Minden since 1935. The Press-Herald is republishing selected articles from Mrs. Agan's Cameos column every Wednesday.­­






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