I was born in the south. I live in the south and will die in the south. This is only a small part of the memories I share.
Realistically, I Cannot Tell You
when "this" area in my life began. All that I do know for a fact is I was young at the time. You all remember "that" time of our lives, that magically time when things were easier. Things were more-colorful and we, the young generation got along very well. Even when Rock and Roll hit the lives, we all got along.
I was 12 in 1966 and I confess: this was a very awkward, bizarre year for all teenagers the world over. At least it was for me. I thought that I knew a lot of things. Then again I said and did stupid things. I got laughed at a lot. Still, I went on. The schooling continued. That was until 1967 when another two "loves" entered my shell-of-a-kid: my rusted-out 1957 Chevy and "Liz," my one and only girlfriend.
I should have been happy, easy-going. I tried, but failed. Adults around me either gave me worn-out advice while other adults laughed at how I would screw-up. I know as you read this, you are thinking that I was cut-out for a life of crime. Not even close. I am a coward at heart. And the names, Clyde and Derringer do not fit my personality. I also have a general dislike for firearms.
Now With That Said
I carry you to the last of summer 1966. I was looking more and more about pretty girls than I was my studies, but I guess that all male teens are seeking the company of other girls their ages. I would say, ahhh, isn't life cool, but I would be leading you astray. Life was not cool and most of my searches for girls ended-up with a train wreck, so I found myself a safe haven: my old rusted-out 1957 Chevrolet and my mother's Friday night hamburgers. All American? You got that right. Chevy and hamburgers cannot be beat at being patriotic.
At the edge of our yard, sat this old body of a car. A rusted-out 1957 Chevy and the first few times that I viewed up, I was angry at the someone who dared to drive this one-time glamour car into our deserted service road and just left. Some caring person, huh? I have nothing against persons or cars, but to leave a car by itself on our rented property? I had not enough angry words to express my disgust at this time. But in a few weeks I would know the feel the essence of this old rattle-trap and the treasure that it held. I was a complete fool.
The Reason That The '57 Chevy
was there was not known. Not by my parents. Not by our landlord or the few neighbors who passed by. It must have been a mystery or controversy or maybe a mysterious controversy. I do not know. What I do wish is that either Sam Elliott, Virgil Earp, Tombstone or Ice T., rapper, star of Law and Order: SVU, were here to do the rest of my voice-over for you to enjoy. Sadly, these two celebrities do not know me or you and I cannot afford their services, can you?
Anyway, the old 1957 Chevy sat there in this one dirt road that ran adjacent to a wooded area. Many times I thought that a major crime had been commited in this car such as a murder of kidnapping and the law arrested chased this car down and arrested the culprits but never came back for their car. And at another time I thought about taking the car apart with a few wrenches that my dad in his toolbox, but my better judgement took over. I knew if he caught me with his tools, he would talk to me very rude and all but wear my behind out with his leather western belt
Then came the day when I just did not care about what had happened to the car or what would get me for looking inside it, so I just walked slowly to the driver's side and looked inside while my heart pounded "Star Spangled Banner," and my sweaty hands clung to the roof of the car.
The wheels were gone. Some of those culprits that I told you about that the law arrested, must have stole them and tried to fence them for money. Fact: in the year of 1966, there was fencing going on at that time. But there it sat, the axles were sitting on two wooden pieces of log and the closer that I looked at this old automotive relic, I felt so sorry for the car. But I covered my tears like a professional private eye. Men of this profession do not cry.
Then My Shaking Hand
slowly touched the silver door handle. When I did, I believe that I heard a few voices coming from around the wooded area at the end of this dirt road and I froze like a raindrop in zero weather. Quickly, I thought that it was not human voices, but dogs and the game that they loved to hunt.
I squeezed the door handle and as I slowly opened the driver's side door, it creaked, binged, banged, and screamed like a woman beating-up her lazy husband. The rust inside the door filled the air around me. Brown air. I coughed several times. I wiped my eyes, but never gave up. Inside the car were the two seats, but they were not entirely worn-out, but in decent shape. I was happy.
I took hold of that brittle steering wheel and sat down careful to watch for snakes or poisonous spiders who might be living inside the car now that humans did not have it, but I did not see anything dangerous. I turned the steering wheel backward and forward and it was not in such a bad way that it broke. It stood my handling. I even opened the glove compartment to find a fiir-earm probably left there by the culprits who stripped the car before they were arrested . . .but no gun. No papers. Just a scared field mouse who ran for cover. And a rusty bobby-pin.
While sitting behind the brittle steering wheel, I just sat and said softly, might as well have a little fun, and so I did. I had a few toys to play with, but man, I was 12, a man of the world about to embark on a slice of real life. A man's life. Tough, hard to handle. I found out something on the front seat of that rusty '57 Chevy, any empire can be conquered in a short while if you believe the images that are produced by the imagination.
Now Say Hello to Liz
needless to say, was what you call gorgeous, but with a rural twist. She had a small southern drawl, but she was an older woman, 14, to be exact. She looked every bit the role of a worldly girl, hard to be deceived and not to be pushed down, and what this girl said was law. Some of the reasons that I loved her. I am sure that most of you guys had (a) Liz in your teenage years.
I remember it like it was a week ago (at that time). I was sitting in the '57 imagining that I was driving through a big city and smiling at all the pretty girls who were walking to and fro on the sidewalks. Suddenly I heard a soft voice asking if (she) could ride with me? One look sealed it. Sure. Just get in and we will ride until sunset. Liz was not sure how to understand my sense of humor, but she tried. I was always amazed at her pretty eyes set against her deep tan. And her mouth was so perfect that I almost fainted when she talked. I knew then and there that I would have Liz for my good friend for years to come.
One Saturday evening she walked to my '57 and began to talk to me. She said that her siblings and parents were headed to our hometown and just wanted to "ride" in my Chevy. Sure, my heart pounded. Okay. Each time that Liz came near my heart pounded The girl had the softest hands to be a country girl who knew what manual work meant. But I was not going to rock the boat.
Dreams Get Intense
when imaginations are running wide-open. Mine was. Liz only smiled and I think that she was amazed at how one clumsy 13-year-old could be so "out there" and stand upright. Talk about a sense of humor, she had one. Sharp. Almost too funny, but I liked Liz a lot.
On this particular Saturday evening, my chores were finished and my parents were inside our house watching TV and I suppose that they knew about Liz and me, but never made mention of it. I told her that this evening we are going to head to a big city, Birmingham, Ala., and she was excited. Go ahead, she said. We flew to this huge metropolitan town. We were both scared at the amont of cars and trucks running beside and back of us. Then she did something that I have always remembered: Liz slid across her side of the seat and over to me. Wow, I whispered. Well, what do you want to do, she asked with those blue eyes sparkling.
I told her that I wanted to take her to dinner at the most-extravagant place in Birmingham and she was so happy. She somehow just liked what I liked. Then I began to ask those purposeful questions such as: are you seeing someone? And, do you like being with me? Important things like that need to be found-out right at the beginning of any relationship.
You see? Liz and I at one time or the other attended New Home School, near Hamilton, Ala., but her family moved into a new school district, so she and her siblings had to ride a different bus. Thank God that we found each other. For once, I was happy.
Dreaming Can be Costly
if you do not know how to handle the dreams. Anyone with a sense of clairvoyance will tell you that. Liz and I were having some dinner in this fancy place that I had seen on my parents' black and white TV and the ad that got my attention was that of for a true dining experience, visit "Shubaker's, on Ninth Ave.," and this is where we ended-up. Liz was having a great time.
Suddenly a couple of gruff-looking guys in matching suits came toward our table. One of them pointed at us. Liz was instantly-scared. I was too. Before they could reach us, we made our way to the door and kept walking. Liz looked back a couple of times and the two guys were jogging toward us and why, we will never know.
We jumped into my good ole '57 Chevy, my dear pal, and started her up. I thought.
She was dead as a piece of lumber. Liz was frantic and yelled for me to hurry. When the two criminal-looking men came almost to us, the car took-off and so did we. Before we hit the main highway, I put my foot on the accelerator and my foot almost went through the floorboard when more brown dust came boiling from underneath the dash. Liz did not complain, but coughed for a few minutes. I felt so bad at putting her through this trip.
With us now safely back in the dirt road where this saga begun, Liz reached over and kissed me. I was so struck that I thought that i had died and woke-up in Heaven. No, bur almost. She smiled and asked what else did I want to do. The first thing to hit me was get something to eat. Now. A real meal. Not an imaginary one. Liz was not as hungry as she smiled.
Welcome to Momma's Cafe
where everyone is welcome and every dish delicious. This was "Momma's" motto that was situated directly atop of the front entrance as to give the cafe more mouth-to-mouth advertising. Now This was the part of our "adventure" to Birmingham and back and now I was famished. Liz did not make any comment either way. I secretly-suspected that as thin as she was, she did not eat very little, but I did not comment. I like her so I did not need any friction. It was nice having her along in my rusted old Chevrolet.
Liz and I walked into my house, but I pretended that it was "our place," "Momma's," the best cafe on the busy highway where I always drove my Chevy up and down that road. You see? I was a busy guy and when you have a girlfriend as pretty as Liz, you have to see about her most every day. I was no different.
I found a table for us and I had watched enough private eye shows on our TV to notice how a gentleman handles sitting a lady at a table. She smiled as she slowly sat down. Her gown was a dazzling pattern of sequence and I loved it. We enjoyed some chit, chat as we talked about our orders. I went all-out for "Momma's Giant Cheeseburger, with heaps of fries, slaw and a generous supply of southern sweet tea." Liz just ordered a small salad. i sensed that something was on her mind. And my thoughts began to be troubled.
Momma served our orders personally and for her to do this was very rare. She usually asked for a customer to order near her kitchen, sit down and be quiet. She did not want loud-mouth customers to mess-up her concentration as she would turn-out the finest food in the south. But on this particular date, only Liz and I were sitting at a table and looking at each other. I was almost about to explode for I thought that two people who sat together not talking means something wrong.
End of The '57 Chevy Adventure
began to surface in Liz's thoughts, but she would smile and ask me why did I not have but one girlfriend? I was honest and answered that my old, rusted-out '57 Chevy occupied a lot of my time and frankly, she, Liz, was more than a girlfriend to me. This made her smile even more and looked shy as she looked down at her salad. The Giant Cheeseburger was delicious beyond measure. So were the fries. But I could not eat but half of it due to feeling so scared that Liz was about to "drop the axe" on my neck leaving me alone and no one to talk to.
So, to break the tension, I asked the obvious, Liz, do you have many boyfriends? She didn't speak for a moment. She wiped her mouth and answered, no, and was not in the market to look for anymore. Then she did something that spoke volumes. She winked and smiled. I reached for her hand, which I thought would be very bold, but no. She reached for my hand as well.
Momma walked out of her kitchen to see how we were doing. I introduced Liz to Momma and they hit it off. Momma said no charge to our meal and I tried to pay her, but I knew when to stop. I did embrace her and thank her for the great time. Then left to get back into the car.
When we drove back to where I kept the car parked, she kissed me a few more times and as she began to move toward her door, I jumped into action and ran to open her door. She smiled again. I was so nervous about her leaving that I almost cried.
"Ken, see you next Saturday evening?" she softly asked while holding my hand.
"Sure! I can't wait to see you again, Liz," I all but yelled as she walked back into the shadows. I looked and viewed the full moon that is evident at this time of the summer. I sat in the '57 and thought about what had happened to me over the course of that day. I smiled again and again.
Dreams. What would be life without them?
November 21, 2020_______________________________________________
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© 2020 Kenneth Avery
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 22, 2020:
What a sweet dream! I enjoy your storytelling, and this brought a smile to my face.