Caution and a Big old slice of good luck

I am a very cautious person. It’s one of the main reasons I’m still around. Caution, and a big old slice of good luck pie.

I learned to drive when I was 15. When I turned sixteen, my Dad told me to drive down to the triangle and get a loaf of bread from Hurley’s grocery store.

I drove at 35 mph down there, plunked down .59 cents for a loaf of sunbeam, got back in Dad’s little green Ford Fairlane, and promptly backed square center into one of those stinking huge light poles that they surrounded with two tons of cement.

I drove 25 mph on the way back home…

It was another 3 or 4 months before Dad let me take the car out again. I drove about 2.3 miles to the house of a girl I wanted to date. I was shy, and awkward as hell. I couldn’t think of things to say conversation wise, so I drug out my guitar and sang to her. It was kind of embarrassing and I’m sure a little strange.

Doubly so, because I flooded the car out when I started to leave, and then when I pulled out of the driveway I accidentally pushed the accelerator down too hard and “dug out” of the driveway. I did make it home safely. From that point on, my driving skills improved, and I can say without a doubt that since then I have logged hundreds of thousands of miles. Mostly cautious miles.

Since I got blackballed at the old local industrial complex, I ended up living in Trion and commuting out and back to work in various cities for about 38 years.

I worked for five years selling medical supplies all over North Georgia. My territory was huge. I put in 150 miles a day most days east….it was a great job the first three years, but not so great the last two. I had a lot of close calls those years, but lucked out and had no accidents. I did however, not latch one of the side panel doors one the supply truck one day before I took off to Calhoun. I don’t know when it flew straight out. I didn’t notice I was spilling bandaids and antibiotic ointment all over the roadway on 136. I only noticed when I turned right on River street and sheared the door off on a telephone pole. That was a hard one to explain to the boss. I was able to backtrack towards Trion, and I ended up finding most of the supplies.

I went to work for Big B Home Health care, and they gave me a new van with their logo on the side. I got to drive it out and back to Rome every day because I was on call 24-7 to deliver Oxygen and O2 supplies to people who needed them. I came home one day and parked it in my steep driveway on ninth street. I was in a hurry, and forgot to put on the parking brakes. I looked out a few minutes later, and the van had jumped out of gear and had rolled down the driveway, across ninth street and jumped the curb across the street and rolled 30 more feet into my across the street neighbors back yard, right next to the back alley. Nary a scratch did it have. Looked like I had just parked it there. I went over and drove it out the back alley and back into my driveway. This time I set the parking brakes.

Like I said, caution is the key….along with a big old slice of luck pie.

The Smell of Cedar

I would like to do as we used to do when I was young and unknowing. Go off into the woods and saw down an old cedar tree and bring it into the house and decorate it.

Most of the time we’d go to Mr. Kellet’s farm, where we bought milk, and he’d let us cut one. Back when I was very young, eight or nine. The smell of those trees haunts my memory now, just as the happiness and innocence also haunts me. I knew nothing then of the world beyond my doorstep. I didn’t realize the terrible things going on out of my little inner circle.

But, they were out there. Not as obtrusive and as evident as they are to me now in this 67th year. But there nonetheless.

I watched my three little ones in their innocence and happiness this morning, and I wondered how life will play out for them. I’ll only be here for a portion of that, but I’m concerned. I know the things I have seen since my time as a child in the fifties as compared to today. Such a vast change. Such a different world. A sandpaper world now compared to my smooth white paper one.

Of all the unknown quantities which lay ahead for them, I cannot even guess. All I can do is love them, hold them, and let them know they are cherished now. So loved. Perhaps if they are able to retain some of those memories in the future, it will give them strength.

Just as I went down in the woods today to a spot where a little cedar tree was growing and put my face close to it and breathed in deeply…and momentarily was comforted. All would be right, all would be alright. Just for a moment.

Blue Ridge Memories

The thunder is rolling outside. That’s the kind of thing I really don’t mind as long as the weather is not severe. I kind of appreciate the reminder from nature of how powerful she can be.

I used to sit out on my Grandparents front porch in Blue Ridge in their old chain link swing hung from the rafters of the porch and listen to the thunder and feel the rain coming in over the railings. I’d get Grandma to let me have an old quilt, and I’d pull it up over my head and block out the rain, and just keep on swinging. It was comforting. Their entire place was comforting and soothing to me. I wandered hundreds of miles over the years up there, back through the woods behind their house, and up the trails of the mountain across the creek from their house. I’d stay gone for hours. Looking back now, I’m surprised they weren’t concerned. Back when I was young my grandmother could holler loud enough so that the sound would echo out and back, and round and round that little valley. I could hear her, and I’d “halooo “ back. They knew I wasn’t laying around dead somewhere thataway.

Winter was my favorite time to get out and stay gone and explore. The winter after we moved from Simmons street to Eighth Street I was twelve, and while we were making our annual visit to the old folks house, I decided to go to the top of “Johnny” mountain. I told my folks I’d be back, and I took off.

I crossed over the little log bridge, which spanned the fast running little creek that never ran out of water that led to my Grandpa’s Uncles land. There was a wide trail behind his house that led up the mountain. The first half hour was pretty easy going, and pretty clear. The men who lived around there had been deer hunting there for years. After that, the going was harder. It was much steeper, and very rocky. I came to one little clearing that looked out across the way towards my grandparents house, and I was surprised how far away it was. Seemed like one of those houses off in the distance in one of those Swiss landscape pictures. All of that, and as I looked up all I could see were steeper climbs with more and bigger rocks. I sat on a tree covered ledge, breathing hard and tried to decide what to do.

I started down the mountain, and by the time I popped out behind my great Uncle’s house, I was worn out, and was crying. I don’t really know why…or at least I didn’t then. Thinking back I believe it was a combination of things. Moving from a familiar neighborhood to a new home, turning twelve that October and feeling the first stirrings of no longer being a boy, feeling unsure of what lay ahead for me. Already trying to puzzle out my relationship to the world and the Universe around me.

I had a kind of “flashback” today as I went to pick my granddaughter up from school. A kind of feeling of nostalgia for not just the “old days” but for that one day in particular 57 years ago almost to the day. I wished I had gone on to the top of Johnny mountain. I wished I’d had the resolve and bravery to do it. Instead I took the safe route. I took the way back home. I’ve been pretty much doing it my entire life now.

I wonder what was on the other side? I wonder now what’s on the other side of the mountain I’ve been climbing ever since then?