Harold Hill told me this story himself. He loved to tell it. After he told me the story if he asked me if I had heard it before I always lied and enjoyed watching him tell it again. It was either true or he had told it so many times that he had the details down pretty well because he always told it the same way.
One summer in his youth he and a few of his friends noticed a local farmer had some fine-looking watermelons ripening on his vines. It had been a good year for the fruit. The field where they grew was not far from town, near a favorite swimming hole and temptingly near the road. One hot August afternoon the larcenous plans were made. That night, after dark they would borrow Harold’s Dad’s car and drive out to the watermelon patch. They would come down the road with the lights off so they would not be seen. Each of the boys would get a melon and carry it back to the car then they would push it past the bridge before they started it and drive back to town. The farmer was a pretty gruff, no nonsense man and he had a dog with a similar temperament. The boys didn’t want to risk crossing either of them.
That afternoon Harold began to feel a sense of uneasy guilt about the whole thing and decided to call it off. On his way to tell his buddies another plan came to mind that would be better than the taste of cold watermelon on a summer’s evening. He paid the farmer a visit and they made some quiet arrangements to surprise the prospective thieves.
That night Harold and his buddies parked the car at the far end of the field and crept between corn rows until they reached the end of the melon patch. Just as they were about to choose their melon they heard the screen door on the back porch slap shut followed by the thunder of a twelve gauge shotgun being fired into the air. That was Harold’s pre-arranged signal. He cried out; “I’m shot. I’m shot. Make a run for it.” And run they did. His friends ran past the car without trying to start it and all the way back to town without stopping.
Harold had a Coke and a laugh with the farmer then he drove home with a big juicy watermelon on the seat beside him. He rounded up his frightened friends and they all enjoyed the watermelon and a good laugh.
Never assume you can do wrong and get off without a hitch. You can’t write your own rules. Those who try find out they are in for a surprise.