I was sitting outside on the porch watching the trees dancing in the breeze and I heard the sound of the sunlight in the songs of the birds. Cars were zipping up and down the road and I couldn't help but wonder where they were all going. Leaning back in my old blue lawn chair, time seemed to come to a stand-still as I slowly closed my eyes and began drifting through my 53 years. My mind traveled back to all the times I'd eased into the uncertainty of joining Dad in all his numerous hobbies, which he changed almost as often as he changed clothes.
I don't have any extended memory of that summer in 1961. All I know is, it was the year of the go-cart. I admired, respected, and loved my Dad, and often I even shared his moods. So, I shared his hobbies, or tried to.
We pulled out of the driveway onto Due West Circle, then took a right at Ellington on that warm but slightly windy Saturday afternoon. Dad and I made our way toward town in the old 1955 red Chevrolet truck that had Macon County Times painted in big white letters on both sides. It was similar to a van only the roof was higher than in most vehicles today. It had two big wide doors in the back and when Dad got in, he could almost stand up. After stopping at Leroy Goodall's garage on the square for gas and a can of oil, we headed up to the old Lafayette Elementary School which was located where the Board of Education now stands on College Street. We drove around the back to the big, dusty playground, which was surrounded by an old, rusted fence.
We were greeted by friends like Billy Reid, Freddie Cook, Charles Reid, and Richard Dillard, but the rest have unfortunately become nameless to me, after all, it was 45 years ago. They all ran over and helped Dad unload his go-cart off the truck.
It was one he had “bought off” somebody. And you know what that usually means, it was a piece of junk. It took me many years to finally realize that but during the summer of 1961, it was magnificent and I longed to ride it by myself. I had asked many times, and many times he had said, “no.” But it still didn't stop me from asking every time he pulled off the dirt track that their continuous circling had made.
Deep in childhood thought, I didn't even hear him the first time he asked if I wanted to ride - alone. Jumping up and down, little did I realize this would be my first and last time.
Dad started giving me instructions and I hung on to his every word. “Well, what are you waiting for?” Dad asked. “Get on.”
“And remember, keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times. The right pedal is the gas and the left is the brake.”
Unfortunately, I was nervous, jumpy, and frightened. I slammed my foot down on the gas pedal hard as I could, and I took off like a cork shot out of a bottle. I was confused and I forgot which pedal did what.
Turning my head, I saw Dad's scared white face running behind me. I saw him gasp, then he tripped. Wham - a thud and he lay face down in the dirt. The air on my face and in my watering eyes was like sticking my head out the window of a car driving down the road at 60 mph. It took my breath away. Blood was pounding in my ears.
Then I saw, as though in slow motion, my foot was on the gas pedal. I leaned back and pulled my right leg up and then pushed down the brake with my left foot. In the next second, I was coming to a stop just in time to miss the fence. I toppled off into the dirt as everyone came running toward me.
I got to my feet trembling and there seemed to be something wrong with my voice. Suddenly I saw Dad's dirt streaked face as he hobbled over to me.
“You alright Deb, you're not hurt are you?”
Sadly enough, I was sidelined for the rest of the summer.
As the setting sun seemed to be beckoning the arrival of dusk, we packed up and headed toward home.
It was a special day filled with lots of fun and plenty of excitement. Looking at Dad filled me with gratitude for all the things he shared with me. Even his hobby loving genes.
Many summers have come and gone since then. Often in my memories I return to my childhood in the 50's and 60's and I realize how truly rich we were. Not in money, but in love, friendship, and kindness.
The first TV set was unveiled at the New York World's Fair in May of 1939. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared on screen, saying: “You are watching the future!”
“Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.”
-Pearl S. Buck
Joke of the Week:
A large, mostly male crowd gathered for the funeral of a farmer's mother-in-law, who had been kicked by the farmer's mule. The abundance of men was a source of comment by the mourners, so the minister decided to ask why. “Oh,” the farmer said, “they all wanted to buy the mule.”