Sunday, January 27, 2008


There was a downturn in the coal business in the mid fifties and my dad got out of work. We had kinfolks in Indiana and Chicago who kept calling to tell us we should move up there.
After a few months of looking for jobs that didn't exist here, my mom and dad made the decision to pack us all up and head north. We had an old Chevy at the time and we headed out one Friday evening. Dad decided that since it was Memorial Day weekend, the weekend of the Indianapolis 500 race, that traffic might be heavy so he wanted to travel at night.
We drove for hours and somewhere in Northern Kentucky, dad started getting sleepy so he started looking for some place to pull over. He passed on the truck stops because of all the light and noise but we found a place that suited him so we parked there for a while. Back in the 50's and 60's, they used to maintain picnic areas by the side of the road. There would be several concrete tables and benches along with steel barrels where picnicker could leave their trash.
There weren't any picnics going on after midnight so dad got out with one of the pillows and made a bet out of one of the concrete tables. Mother took advantage of the empty front seat. We were left to fend for ourselves in the backseat. The only instructions my mother offered before dozing off was "if you wake your daddy, I will kill you and stuff you in one of these trash barrels."
We all looked at each other and decided to make the best of a tight situation.
I was about five years old and fairly small for my age so My sister picked me up and put me up on the hat-rack behind the back seat. It was a perfect fit for me. I wasn't very sleepy so I lay there and gazed through the slanted back glass at the stars. It was a beautiful spring night at the end of May and the stars looked like a field of diamonds spread out on a dark blue velvet cloth.
I think that's when I saw my first shooting star. It seemed to be in slow motion because I traced its path with my finger on the back glass.
I remember that the silence was broken every now and then by the sound of an oncoming car coming down a long hill. WhhhaaaaaaOhoooooooo. I assumed that this was all the racing cars headed for the race track. I didn't understand until much later that these were just regular cars passing in the night and the high pitched sound dropping to a lower pitched sounds was the Doppler effect.
Dad woke up a few hours later and we made Hammond, Indiana before lunch the next day. My brother Neil made fun of me for thinking the cars I heard were race cars.
Not sure what brought this memory to mind, but I've come to realize that I have to go with what I have.

1 comment:

  1. It seems to me that there was something about that in a song called "Midnight Ride" by a group called The Overalls. "Ninety miles an hour down memory lane" comes to mind.


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