Just Outside of Silas

Our main job was to clean her refrigerator.

Really.

It’d been about a year since our last visit to clean the icebox and, well, grandma hadn’t done anything since then to prevent a perfect storm of chemical reactions from destroying the house, county, and possibly the western hemisphere.

So, once again, my parents and older siblings negotiated the scientific experiment in grandma’s kitchen, which likely would have made any high school science teacher, or any research chemist, jealous.

Basically, they’d throw everything out.

Everything.

Ever seen a glass jar of tomatoes after a year of bacteriological shenanigans in the refrigerator?

It’s not pretty. Continue reading “Just Outside of Silas”

The Price of Russian Gasoline

Russia – 1992. My translator’s mother, who had a broken leg at the time, hops into the small Russian made Lada (see this picture and think of a ripoff of a 1970s Corolla). She makes her way into the passenger’s seat. Her daughters also squeeze into the tiny car. Four people with thick cold-weather gear pressed and sautéed into a tin can.

Cozy.

We pull out of the parking lot after church on a Sunday morning and head for lunch. Fifty feet down the snow-packed road, the engine stops. I have a terrible feeling because I know the exact reason why it’s not running.  Continue reading “The Price of Russian Gasoline”

Waving

Taylorsville, Mississippi:  It’s a tiny place. A guy in a blue Chevrolet pick-up truck drives past me, extends one hand, and waves as if he knows me.

I don’t know him, but I wave back.

I’m pretty sure that if I tried that in New York City I’d be assaulted and or arrested.

This little hand-waving thing reminds me of my dad and riding in his truck.

My dad had a habit of always waving at approaching vehicles – one hand on the wheel, another hand holding a Pall Mall cigarette (ashes on the seat and floorboard).  If a hand was empty, it’d be holding a cup of sugar and milk – with a touch of coffee.

My dad grew up in a little town in southwest Alabama. I’m guessing they wave a lot there.  Continue reading “Waving”

City Barber Shop

The City Barber Shop had been in business for as long as I could remember. Located by the local Western Auto Store, it was owned and operated by a guy named Roger and it was the place where I remember getting my first hair cut. I must have been around 4 or 5 years old. My dad drove me on a Saturday morning. Roger placed a wooden board on the barber chair so I would sit up high enough. I always asked for a “GI,” which had to be the easiest haircut possible. I doubt that it was my first haircut, it’s just the first memory I have. I’m also pretty sure that my elderly sister used to cut my hair before then.  

Continue reading “City Barber Shop”

Quitter

I was nine years old. the first time I quit. The reason that I left little league football was not because I didn’t want to play.

I did.

I had the usual football heroes like Roger Staubach and Archie Manning, which reflects my old age and NFL geographical viewing area more than anything else.

The real reason I quit football at the mature age of nine was to punish my dad for being a chronic alcoholic. Although he would stop drinking in a year or so, he was still living life as a sloppy and mostly angry drunk.

And for some odd reason, I didn’t appreciate having an occasionally violent and sloppy drunk for a dad.

Continue reading “Quitter”

Sentimental

My dad pulled into the driveway after a day of working his air-conditioning business.

But he left the engine running so he could listen to a song on the radio.

He hadn’t said a word for the last several minutes. But for the moment, he was listening only to that song.

It was an Elvis song.  Continue reading “Sentimental”

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