June 16, 2011

Driving Nell

It seems that taking the time to visit loved one's becomes less important than we think. Back in the day, my grandmother did not drive. She always said she tried for a little while, but ran in the ditch at the Eddy farm, making her scared to ever drive again, but made an effort to visit her brothers, sisters and even uncles and aunts. Her efforts were making sure we as children learned to drive. It was very common for us to pull the tractors up as it was being loaded with hay. My first attempt at driving the tractor was going around and around the house. Note: the brake on a Ford tractor was not to stop it it was to make it turn, really quick. The clutch was the paddle that turned the old tractor. I learned this by accident. Accidentally twisting the tractor into the side of the house. Making the turn was my goal. Really my goal was slow the Ford down enough to go around the back of the house. When I touched the brake, which was on the left, the tractor swung into the north back corner of the house. The good thing is all it did was chip a brick. I knew reverse and was back to going around and around the house. We graduated from the tractor to cars and trucks by time we were ten. Grandmother felt safer riding with sober children than drunk adult men. This was her time to not be stranded at home all the time. She planned trips on days we had all the work completed. Her resting days were trips to any one's house we could drive her to without getting on a major road. Highway 72 was out of the question. We could even get to St. Joseph Tennessee to visit Uncle Henry Thompson. That was one of my favorite road trips. She let us go to the Lexington Swimming Pool often. This was the test to see if we were prepared to drive past Lexington. She had cousins that lived at the end of County Road 51. We parked the car at Aunt Lizzie Joiner's. She stayed there to visit and we walked on to the swimming pool. A few times driving to Lexington convinced her we could take her to places further than Lexington. She mapped out a route to Florence that we as children could drive her to their houses. She wanted to see her loved ones badly enough to ride with my brother and I when we had to sit on a pillow to see to drive. The way we went to Florence from Lexington was country roads most of the way. She made sure we did not have to get on major highways. Jackson Highway, across Happy Hollow was a journey we took often. She could visit her sister that lived on Jackson Highway, then on to her other sister that lived next to Stony Point Church. Her brother lived in Killen. A trip to Killen was not easy to stay off the main roads.We did not visit him as much, because one time his wife would not let us in. She was one of those people that Grandmother said had nerve problems. She said this to not call her crazy, which was what I know she meant. One time we went they had put up a chain link fence, with a locked gate. This was a major issue to my grandmother. She traced up and down in front of that gate until her brother finally came out to see what she wanted. The conversation they had was him explaining why wife of his Mary wanted the gate. He never did invite his sister in the gate; we just left and drove on to visit her sister. In those days there was not as much traffic on the way and she would not have put us in danger. The worst that really could have happened was we hit the ditch. She did not let us drive fast enough for running in a ditch to do much damage. One time I got up to 40 mph and she yelled for me to slow this car down, right now. I just as well been doing a hundred. When she yelled everybody listened; I slowed down. We did not ever loose it and run in a ditch, but backing out of driveways we did run in the ditch sometimes. After doing this a couple of times she had us to pull the car in the yard facing out, so we did not have to back; we just pulled out forward and headed back to Lexington. I am sure this is one of the reasons so many people loved my grandmother. She visited and helped. She was visited and helped in return. I am sure she was talked about because she let us drive her as young as we were.

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