Joe wasn’t very big yet, but they let him help out with unloading the watermelons. The train would come rattling in and Nick would say, “Come on,” and so Joe went, piled in the corner of the front seat of the truck, not saying much, looking out the window at the harbor, down to the trainyards with the other men.
Nick didn’t help with the unloading, but he counted the watermelons to make sure they were all there and made sure they were packed correctly. One of the men got up into the boxcar where the watermelons were heaped in the straw, and one of the men stood on the ground, and then there was Joe, and then the last man stood in the bed of the truck and packed the fruits away as fast as they threw them up to him. Joe wasn’t very big yet, but the men liked him, not just because he was Nick’s son but for his own sake, and sometimes they’d throw a special good watermelon too hard for him to catch and he’d drop it and they’d have to eat it.
Afterwards they’d go rattling back to the store and leave him there out of kindness. Unloading was a long, slow, boring job. He liked it better walking through town, poking his head into this store or that and generally keeping his hand in.