Grandpa Carr stored used cans in a bathtub-style container attached to the exterior wall near the back door of his house. He hung coarse burlap bags filled with cans on sixteen-penny nails above the bin. The brown bags blended with the unpainted boards so it looked like a house with large goose bumps to me, his tiny four-year-old granddaughter.
Grandpa had nothing to entertain me while the grownups visited, so I climbed up the side of the big tin tub and peeked inside. A bright red Prince Albert® Tobacco can within reach was irresistible. I retrieved it and climbed down. I flipped the oval hinged lid and filled that small can with dry Oklahoma dirt.
I was having great fun until Grandpa came outside. With a very stern look, he told me not to play with the cans. He said The Government needed tin for The War and he might get a dime for that little can. I didn’t understand who, or what, The Government was, but I knew Grandpa meant business. He took the can out of my hands, shook out the dirt, and dropped it back into the bin.
I cried but he didn’t change his mind. He insisted that my twin sister and I play far away from that side of the house where he saved his precious cans. My good times at Grandpa’s were over. All I could think of was how much I wanted to play with that tobacco can.
I have no memories of Grandpa Carr other than the indelible mark that incident made in my life. I wonder how much he was paid for that prized can. Whatever he received, it wasn’t enough.
This memoir excerpted from Double Take, reminisces of the Carr Twins, available in print soon.