Hudson: Here comes the judge

If you were living in rural North Carolina about 1962, you had to create your own fun where ever you could find it. There were few public facilities for 14- and 15-year-olds.

For the boys in Hudsonville, it was easy.  Being resourceful types, we could always find something to do.  I don’t think I was ever bored.

In the Summertime it was always playing baseball or going swimming.

Ambling Along by Jay Hudson

Ambling Along
by Jay Hudson

Elmer Nelson, our neighbor, had built a farm pond several years earlier.  That’s where all of the boys learned to swim.

One July day in 1962, we were feeling extra rambunctious.  We decided to go swimming at the pond.  We piled onto the back of Crawford Pankey’s Chevy pickup truck for the short ride to the pond.  It was less than a quarter of a mile away, but a teenager would never walk when he could ride.  There was the usual scramble to see who would ride shotgun.  That’s the spot on the passenger’s front side.  It’s a term that comes from watching too many cowboy movies I suppose.
I can’t remember all the gang that was there that day, but I remember the central characters, Crawford Pankey, Uncle Buddy Shepard, Uncle George Hudson, Ray King, and myself, Jay Hudson.

Crawford was an older fellow who provided transportation on our escapades if we worked for him at low wages. Buddy and George are two of my uncles, about the same age as I am. Ray King was a family friend. We were all young teens.

We got to the pond and jumped in before the truck  stopped rolling.  We were adventurous after watching so many Tarzan and Hercules movies.

This particular day we had been splashing a few minutes, when a neighbor and his wife that lived on the opposite side of the pond came around to where we were swimming.  His name was Sherman. He and his wife were extremely intoxicated, and wanted more alcohol to drink. They wanted us to cut short our swimming time and take them to a bootlegger for some corn likker.

Crawford didn’t want to take them, so we started jeering  and hooting at them. They hollered right back at us.  It was just fun that soon got out of hand.  I said to uncle George, “George, let’s moon them”. He said, “OK”.   And so we did. Just the two of us. All the other fellows were hooting and hollering at us, just egging us on, and we obliged.

Whoa!  The hollering and cussing started in earnest then.  Back and forth we went.
Finally, Sherman had  enough.  He said he was going to get his rifle and shoot everyone of us boys.  He staggered back to his house and got his rifle. We didn’t think he would shoot, but he did. He came out on his front porch and let go with a barrage of lead from his automatic rifle.  Bullets were flying every where around us.

In case you have never been shot at, the bullets going by your head sound like angry hornets buzzing around your head.

We had scattered after the first shot was fired.  Several bullets hit the truck and  we took to the woods running.  Sherman must have reloaded his rifle, because the firing lasted several minutes.  We all made it home without a single bullet wound, but plenty scared, ans we still had to tell our parents..

I don’t know where the other fellows ran to, but I hid in grandpa’s barn.  I was ashamed to go home and tell daddy what I had done.

A short time, I saw the Sheriff go by our house and turn down to the pond.  I walked slowly down the dirt road to our house. I was scared to death of the beating I figured daddy was going to give me.

When I got to the house, mama and daddy already knew what happened.  I don’t know who told them, but whoever it was, left out the part about the mooning.

I didn’t see any reason to tell them either.

Mom and dad did not beat me like I expected.  I didn’t mention the mooning,  just the shooting part.  They were  relieved that I wasn’t killed.

A few days later we all received word that the judge wanted all of us boys in court. On the appointed day, a sheriff’s deputy  seated us on a bench in front of the judge.  We looked just like the rascals we actually were, heads hanging down, with enough shame to last at least a few days .

The judge put Sherman on the witness stand.  After asking him his name and the circumstances that happened at the pond, the judge said, “Mr. Sherman, do you see the boy that was mooning you, and can you point to him sir?”

Sherman stood up, pointed directly at Uncle George and said, “Yes sir Judge, that’s him right there on the front row, George Hudson is his name.”

“Thank you sweet Jesus!”  I whispered to myself, as I slunk down as far as the seat would let me go. I didn’t want Sherman to even notice me. I didn’t bother to look up. My cheeks were burning, expecting to hear my name called, but I didn’t.

The judge called  Uncle George up to the witness stand and gave him a tongue lashing that should have been directed at all of us, but under the circumstances, I was perfectly willing to let uncle George take all the blame.

We left the court room vowing that we would never mess with old men and women again, as long as we lived.

We never mooned anyone again, but there were other adventures, and that’s another story.

Jay Hudson is a native of Richmond County. He has been a NASCAR fan since the Daytona 500 in 1959 and considers Fred Lorenzen NASCAR’s first superstar and the best driver of all time. He lives in Rockingham.

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  • victoria smith

    Wait what happen to the man that shot at you ?

  • Jay Hudson

    He spent a couple days in jail.

    • victoria smith

      Good story. I hope to hear more from you.

    • Jay Hudson

      Thank you very much.

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