A misty reverie of a young black boy's childhood in Gasoline Point, Alabama -- a place mainly memorable because ""you could hear the M & O, the GM & O, and the GM & N en route to St. Louis, Missouri and Kansas City by way of Meridian, Mississippi,"" and also because it's where the narrator of this fleshless little tale turned from boy to man and learned the true identity of his mother. Scooter hangs around with Little Buddy Marshall listening to Luzana Cholly play the guitar and tell tall tales about hopping freights, but when they try the real McCoy they're too scairt to do nothing but turn around and go home for supper. The biggest treat is ice cream on Sundays -- the biggest scare the dead man in the swamp -- and the biggest thrill is when the girls start itching to get his private parts in their pants. Meanwhile Scooter learns about Abe Lincoln and reads books so he can grow up and be a writer, curses the ""peckerwoods"" (whites), and observes a black man running at dawn from a window of the house of the richest lady in town. This is a tedious eulogy to the chinaberry childhood dream that lurks in everybody's heart until outgrown.