(Today is Tin Can Day - I couldn't resist!)
Being born poor and black in the South teaches you things. Things like you don’t get what you don’t got and you should count yourself lucky if you got shoes. It teaches that if you want a toy to play with you best be making that shit up yourself.
Making toys ain’t hard. A bunch of rags can be tied into a ball, an old inner-tube becomes a makeshift trampoline, a pair of empty tin cans and a length of string serve as a telephone.
I made myself one of those tin-can telephones when I was six. Me and those rusty cans went everywhere together - ringing up friends in the schoolyard, talkin’ to nice old Mister Russell in front of the Save A Penny store, even a stranger lady who came to town in a big green car and said she was from Social Services and did my parents know where I was. I politely tol her that she had the wrong number and hung up right quick.
Bein on the telephone makes people brave. Folk’ll tell you things. Things like "Little Jeny Tucker, yo' mama know you is runnin' round town talkin up strangers like a 2 nickel whore?" and "When I was a little boy, I had one of these and whoo boy, Huey and I used to talk on it all the time about girl parts - you know, the little honey purse you've got between yur legs?"
My telephone taught me things. Like no-one wants a girl that talks too much. Like nice ladies in green sedans go stickin their noses in ever’bodie’s business. Like stay clear of Tommy and Huey Marsh. Like, waitin on someone to give you toys is a waste of time; you got to make your own in this ol’ world!