Sid Peckham and his wife were coast farmers and Sid was a veteran of World War II. They were eeking out the narrowest sort of existence on a little plot of ground just east of Corpus Christi, about an eighth of a mile from the Gulf.
The cost of their farm was two hundred dollars. For one reason or another Sid had not been able to get a G.I. loan to buy the land outright, but he and Sarah had scraped together enough money for the down payment. Now, to meet the quarterly instalments of twenty-five dollars, they depended entirely upon what could be raised there and sold for the vegetable markets of Corpus Christi, namely soft melons and squash.
Sid and Sarah were of a line of unimaginative, one-acre farmers who very often had not owned the land they worked, and whose life’s spring was less connected to the proverbial love of the land than twisted somehow around a vague acceptance of work, God’s will and the hopeless, unsurprising emptiness of life. The only book in their little house was the Bible, which they never read.
For a time, before the war, they had lived on the even smaller farm of Sarah’s father, sharing a little room in the back and working most of the day in the melon patch. Then Sid was gone, in the Army, for three years.
They had one letter from France, but for all it said of what was happening it could have been written from Fly, two miles away, or even from his own family’s place across the road.
They told us all to write. Hope you are all well. I am fine. The place here and the food is all right. Rain yesterday here, and today. I hope you and the family are all right.
God keep you.
In other respects, the letter was an epitome of their relationship. Speech between them was empty and hushed.
Only sometimes now Sid spoke of the films he had seen in the Army. Then he was more expressive than at any other time.
“That one were right good,” he would say, “I seen it on the boat.”
Sarah would listen. They had never gone to see films before. But since the war, every Saturday they walked the two miles into Fly for the new movie. The movie in Fly played once on Saturday night and once again on Tuesday afternoon. Sid and Sarah went to the Saturday night showing, and they always left the house well before sundown in order to get good seats. All the seats were the same price, fifteen cents. They saw comedies and mysteries, westerns, dramas, and classic histories, one a week for seven years.