March 20, 2013

I Was Smarter Than the Grown-ups

Getting to Alabama was a chore for a seven year old girl to say the least. We were all snug at Grandma and Grandpa’s with plenty to eat. Mama was making enough for me to have some better clothes for school. We would have been alright with them. I am still thankful we finally got to come south. The trip was the most nerve racking thing for me. Mama got calls from Daddy often telling her to take us and meet him at the bus station. She would have Grandpa take us everytime he said he would be there. We went more than I can remember that he did not show up. May have been that he did something with the bus fair then had to get more before he could come. He finally did show up. He looked as though he had been living in the street. His face was unshaven. He had on a leather jacket that I thought was really strange for him. He never did answer me when I asked him where he got it. Usually when you asked him something he did not want to answer he would ask, "are you writting a book." I would always say yes. His reply would be, "leave that page out." What a smart ass answer. He really did not like anyone asking too many questions or talking too much. The thing that caused me to panic was he went to get our tickets with me right on his heels, of course. He asked for tickets to the wrong place. I freaked out, he was buying tickets to Pulaski Tennessee. I panicked like no other seven year old had ever panicked. I tugged at the sleeve of the leather jacket telling him that we were supposed to be going to Alabama not Pulaski Tennessee. There was nothing I could do to stop him. I had to go with Daddy and Mama no matter where they went. When we got on the bus we went straight to the back seat. All four of us sat on the back right side of the bus. There was plenty of room, because I was so worried that I stood up the whole seven-hundred and something miles. I was for sure he had messed up and was taking us to the wrong place. I was so relieved to find out how close Pulaski Tennessee was to Alabama. At seven I did know that it was two different states. My grandmother, aunt and her two little girls arrived not long after the bus. Daddy did have enough time before they got there to buy a new shirt and shave in the bathroom. I stood and watched as he shaved almost knowing the reason why. Daddy freshly shaven with a brand new shirt he had bought just so my grandmother would not see the rags he was wearing. The leather jacket was not needed as it was hot here. He just left it in the men's room at the bus station. I still wonder if it was ok for me to be in the bathroom watching Daddy shave. I guess it was. Could have been it was not a mens room at all. There was possibly just one for everyone to use. The way it faced is still vivid in my mind. Years later I would not only watch him shave; I would shave him. This shave was on a Sunday afternoon for him to head to Jackson Mississippi to work. He had come home for the week-end and was not all that able to head back on Sunday evening. I knew he needed to go for the money, or work. Work was what he was supposed to do. I knew this, but money what would it be used for. Grandmother made sure my brother and I were sheltered, feed and clothed. I just wanted him to go, because that was what he should do. The four of us fit into the back seat of my daddy's only sisters car. In 1967 the roads from Pulaski that we traveled that day were still dirt roads. It was the end of June. June 28, seems to be the exact date to me for some reason. My girl cousins were in the front seat with Grandmother and daddys only sister. There were three boys and one girl born to Grandmother and Granddaddy. She was the youngest and my daddy was the oldest. We must have seemed like aliens to the two little girls riding up front. They peeped over the seat all the way back to Grandmothers house. Which I was so relieved that I was wrong in thinking Daddy did not know where he was supposed to be going.

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