Thursday, August 23, 2018

Image result for fall leaves clip art 
After Mama arrived, we took Mrs. Hall around Kentucky to caves and museums. The three of us in that tiny Karman Ghia. Mama sat in the back since Mrs. Hall was elderly and crippled. I sure wish I had taken out that Pentax and gotten a picture of Mama in the back seat, or even her getting in or out of it. The third day, we threw our suitcases in the back seat, and took off like horses at the derby. We were on a road trip to see the big city down some roads less traveled. It reminded me of the poem, The Road Less Traveled by Robert Frost. The last lines told our story well:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,”
No interstate for us. We needed to see the glory of the fall leaves in all their splendor. If we saw a road less traveled by, we explored it. We loved the way the car held the sharp mountain curves. We wound around curves as fast as if in the Indy 500, laughing at the image of me, a twenty-something soldier and she, the elderly lady, (her words, not mine) traipsing around the mountains without a care in the world. We stopped at interesting places on a whim, sampled apple cider till we were full as ticks, took picture after picture of fall leaves, each time declaring the current tree had the best color. But, bless our hearts, we were wrong. Suddenly we rounded a curve and there she was. Standing tall at the foot of the hill, in the middle of a sharp curve, the most beautiful tree with the most colorful leaves. We gasped. This elegant Sugar Maple definitely was the best. We pulled off the road and admired her. I took pictures, and more pictures. We wanted to stay there till the cows came home,but it was getting late. We drove into the night to get to Alexandria, Virginia.
It was late and we were worn slap out. We couldn't find a motel. After driving around a while we finally found one with a vacancy. They only had one room, but, we were so tired we didn't care what condition it might be in. We only brought one suitcase into the lobby, for some odd reason, and were laughing and being silly. The clerk, a gray haired elderly woman, with disheveled clothes, looked at my mama, then looked at me and frowned. Just one night I said. She gave me another dirty look as if I was hooking up with some cougar. She wouldn't even look at Mama, who snickered while putting her arm around me. We went to the room, laughing, while the clerk mumbled under her breath, “They ought to be ashamed”.
Horrors! There was only one double bed in the room. One. We started laughing again. No wonder she gave us dirty looks. No wonder her thoughts were in the gutter. From the looks of the room she shouldn't have been so snotty. The place did look like it was rented by the hour. Mama said, “It don't amount to a hill of beans, she doesn't know us and never will see us again, bless her heart.” We survived the night, Mama in the bed and me on the floor.
The next day we went into Washington. We toured the Abraham Lincoln monument, we went to the top of the Washington monument, both scared of the height. We ate lunch from a food vendor, before finding another motel suitable with two double beds, again getting looks from the clerks. But we didn't care because we were having fun and both of us were tightwads, not wanting to spend so much on a room we would hardly be in.
Over supper, when talking about that tree, I mentioned how I loved the yellow leaves and how bright they appeared in the headlights. She corrected me. “They're red leaves,” she said. “And yes, the red just popped in the headlights”. Unlike today, I couldn't instantly scroll through my pictures to prove my point, I had to wait until I could get the film developed. Therefore we argued about the color of the leaves the rest of the trip.
We called Gillis Long and tried to get a tour of the White House, but he wasn't available, we walked and admired the Cherry Blossom trees, we window shopped and ate at wonderful places, before ending up at the White House toward dark. Since we weren't able to see the insides, we decided to walk around the perimeter. Somewhere, in the corner of this iron fence, Mama spies something lying on the ground, on the edge of a magnolia tree. It was shiny. “I don't know what that is, but it would make a great souvenir,” Mama said as she reached through the fence to retrieve it. She couldn't quite reach it, so she found a stick just by the fence, retrieved it, placed her foot on the iron fence and began reaching again for her treasure. A guard, immediately, came running over. He wasn't pleasant, shouting at us to halt and move away from the fence. We did while Mama begins explaining to him who we were, where we came from, how I was in the Army, and she was my mama, and she had never been to Washington before, that her husband is a state senator from Louisiana and knows Gillis Long, on and on. He stood his ground and let us know that he didn't care who she was or who her husband was, or who she knows, but she will not reach through that fence ever again unless she wants to be arrested. He asked us to leave. We did, half scared, but, laughing about our adventure at the White House.
Going home, we decided to return the same route so we could find that tree again and end our debate. It was getting dark again when we found it. The tree was on a curve with a high embankment. I back the car up as close as I can under the tree. I take off my shoes, climb on top of the car and jump to grab a branch. I fall against the embankment, twice, I try again and am successful with a small branch and several leaves. I hold the leaves in the headlights. We laugh. We were both right. The tree had both red and yellow leaves. Some were yellow and some red and some had both colors.
“I told you so,” said Mama, as she slaps me on the back of my head.
And so we drove home on our merry little way.
The End

© Nippy Blair 2015. Posts and pictures on this blog cannot be copied, downloaded, printed, or used without the permission of the blog owner, Nippy Blair.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

( A blog in two parts)
It was August 18, 1970. I was into my third year in the Army, and stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky as a photo lab specialist, after my tour in Vietnam. This was the day I rode a bus to Louisville, to a Volkswagen dealership with some friends. We were fixin' to buy Karman Ghias. All three of us. Mine was a beautiful blue. It looked like the blue of the sky on a clear day. My favorite color. Theirs were convertibles, red and green. I was leery of convertibles, and rightly so, it appears, for my friend's eventually had leaky roof problems every time it rained. I paid cash for it from money I saved overseas, $2,800.00. Can you believe it? My first real car to buy on my own. I loved this car. “Why not splurge?” my tight wad conscience said.” After all I'm single and need transportation.” So I did. This wouldn't be my first Volkswagen though, I had an old used tan beetle when in college. But this would be a sports car, a brand new sports car. There's just something about single guys and sports cars, isn't it? Granted, mine wasn't a fancy sports car like a Lamborghini Miura, or Ferrari, or Mazda RX-7, not even a Pontiac Fire bird. I was a poor single guy still in the army, not even finished with college, foot loose and fancy free, with a beautiful blue sports car. So what, if it was a Volkswagen? I loved it, it suited my personality. Girls still looked and smiled.
I felt like a rich, grown man with money to burn. There is just such a special feeling about buying a vehicle on your own, with cash, and driving it off the lot the very same day. I declare, I traveled to Timbuktu and back before going home to Elizabethtown.
I couldn't wait to share the news with family, but that had to wait until I got home and found a phone. Remember, this was 1970 and there were no cell phones, so I had to wait until I got to Mrs. Hall's. I no longer lived on the base and was renting from a dear, sweet, 87 year old lady I considered a grandmother.
I called home as soon as I could. Daddy, of course, answered with his usual greeting saying, “Hi, son, you want to talk with your mother?” So I gave Mama all the details about the car and promised to send her a picture. (Again, remember, this is before cell phones, so I had to take out my Pentax K1000 camera, make sure I had loaded it with Kodak Gold Ultra 35mm color film, take the picture, then wait to develop it the next work day in the lab.) Mrs. Hall was just as excited as Mama was. She couldn't wait for me to take her around the block, I used to tease her about her middle name being, “yes, let's go.” She and I got along famously.
Eventually, the photo made it home by snail mail. Daddy thought I had wasted my money and should have gotten a truck, Mama, the free spirit, thought it was perfect. The more we talked, the more she wanted to come visit. We decided that I would use my leave time and the two of us would take a road trip across the mountains in the fall. Mama had never really seen fall leaves that only the Appalachian states can produce. We planned to drive through the Cumberland Mountains to Washington, D.C. Just me and Mama, together on a road trip in a, basically, two seater sports car.
We planned for October when the leaves would be at their peak. “We could drive to the east coast in my new Karman Ghia. It would be super fun,” I said. “After all, you and I are good traveling buddies,” I emphasized. “Oh, heavens to Betsy,” Mama said, “we're gonna look like hicks come out of the woods in that big city.”
“Not in my Karman Ghia, we won't,” I laughed. “Remember, I promised you, that if the opportunity ever arrived, I would take you to see Washington, D.C. Besides, you have done a lot of work for Daddy calling representatives for him and making decisions that were national matters, not state. You won't look like a hick, you know those people.”
She smiled, “Then the time has arrived,” she said. Mama had never been to Kentucky or to Washington, D.C for that matter, well, she had been to D.C., but not really. You see, back toward the end of World War II, she had been to Washington, but it was too brief to see anything. It was during the end of World War II. I was just a tiny baby. My George grandparents were keeping me while she rode the train from Alexandria, Louisiana, to Washington D.C., so she could see my daddy one more time before he shipped off to China. He was to spend the end of the war spraying for mosquitoes to help prevent malaria, since he had a degree in Entomology. I became sick after she left. Sick enough that I was about to die. They had to fly me and grandma to Shreveport where I received several blood transfusions. I never have learned exactly what illness I had, no one ever talked about it. I guess that's a mystery I'll never solve. Daddy was holding the telegram, when she arrived at the train station, saying how deathly ill I was. They had an hour and a half together before she caught the first train back home. She never left the train station. Poor mama. I heard this story several times about her missed trip, how Daddy had a week off and they were going to see everything they could in D.C. I don't think she said it out of guilt or to make me feel bad, it was just a story about me about to die, and how thankful she was I survived because of those blood transfusions. So I had always promised her that one day she and I would travel to Washington D.C., so she could see the city. I never asked why Daddy didn't take her himself after the war...but then, Daddy did say that he never wanted to travel anywhere again, and he really meant it. I often thought, as a young teenager, that it would have been the gentlemanly thing to do and a romantic trip after the war, but then, again, I was just a kid and didn't really understand the logistics of having four children and the need to support a family. Besides, he had his own business to run and politics and such. Understandable, now.

© Nippy Blair 2015. Posts and pictures on this blog cannot be copied, downloaded, printed, or used without the permission of the blog owner, Nippy Blair.