She let us dig up her yard.
In all of the years that Carol Martin lived in the Chapel Heights subdivision, she never won a Beautification Award for her lawn. Instead of planting flowers, she allowed the neighborhood kids to build a ball field in her front yard. It was perfect for baseball in the summer and football in the fall.
She even adorned her front yard with a sign that read Buford T. Pusser Memorial Field as named by some of the neighborhood kids as a tribute to Joe Don Baker’s portrayal of a small town sheriff in their favorite movie, “Walking Tall.”
Although the sign is no longer around and the field has been retired, the memories of playing in Carol’s front yard are still alive.
How many kids do you see these days playing a pickup game of baseball without any parental supervision? Carol and her husband Dr. Mac Martin’s yard became more than just a place for recreation — it was the best school I ever attended. My apologies to the writer Robert Fulgham, but everything I needed to know, I learned in Carol Martin’s front yard.
It’s not that I don’t like organized sports and activities. I just liked playing in her yard better than any recreation league. We made our own games and rules. Just like Congress, we often debated and argued. Unlike Congress, we would always come to an amicable agreement.
We pushed each other to become better. We laughed often. We sometimes fought and cried. But most of all, we had the best neighborhood team in the area as nearby squads from Edgewood Drive, Sunset Hills and the Southgate Neighborhood would often leave Chapel Heights in defeat.
Carol would often walk out to say hello and even occasionally bring us lemonade. One time when we wanted to make the pitcher’s mound bigger, we knocked on her door.
“Mrs. Martin, would you mind if we make a larger mound?” we asked. “No,” she replied. “The shovel is in the garage. Just make sure you put it back when you’re finished.”
I never saw her complain. Even when Dr. Martin would come home from a long day at the hospital, he would often walk out on the field and say hello. He told me at Carol’s funeral home visitation, “We absolutely loved watching all of you play in our yard.”
Four years ago, Santa Claus delivered two miniature excavators to my sons for Christmas. When my boys started digging a big patch in the front yard, I immediately felt my blood pressure rise. It quickly lowered as I thought about Carol Martin’s lawn.
When I told her this story, she replied “Just let them tear up the yard. You’ll have plenty of time to plant flowers and win a Beautification Award when they’re grown.”
I’m following her advice. I’m letting them dig.
Garrett is a Carrollton resident and businessman. You can read more of his columns at joegarrett1.wordpress.com or contact him at email@example.com.