On the Road Through the Smokey Mountains
It was the summer of 1955. I was 5 years old, blonde, willful monkeyboy facing a major defining moment in my life. It was the moment I realized that I would no longer be a free man.That was when I saw the future of at least 13 years of school looming on the horizon. Time for one last fling.
Intro: We Need a Vacation!
My paternal grandparents had not had a vacation in many years. They decided it was time to remedy that problem with a leisurly two week trip through the Smokey Mountains to Charleston South Carolina to visit one of my cousins who was stationed there while in the Navy.
My grandparents could see I needed a break so they invited my sister and me to go along with them. Somehow my babysitter and first crush was invited too, Ahhhhh Life is good! Due to sleeping space being short I would have to sleep cuddled up with the babysitter. I could tell that this was going to be a trip to remember.
This was the trip that introduced me to many of life's finer things. Things like mountain vistas, motels, with air conditioning that would hum you to sleep while you lay with your head resting on a shapely breast her fingers stroking your hair, breakfasts at a diner next door to the motel. Simple things like the sound and vibration of tires on asphalt, of the wind in your face as you eat up the miles. The sense of gypsy wanderlust, a hunger to see new people and places that would get me out on the road working my way around the world.
Waking in the Bowels of Hell
On our third day of our trip through the mountains, I had to get into mischief. The road side attractions promised by some of the weatherbeaten signs were closed that day and I had become bored. I could not get the babysitter to play a new game I had thought up... German U-Boat Commander and the captive female spy. I was not happy, I even had the black pigskin gloves for the interogation session. She blushed and chuckled and told me not today. Women.... I was frustrated and let it out by misbehaving.
My grandparents were less than pleased. Eventually My grandfather pulled the gray Studibaker onto the gravel on the side of the road and rolled to a stop. I knew it was close to being in some really hot water. I attempted to apologize my way out of this mess, my grandmother was not buying it. My grandmother told me that if I kept acting like a heathen I might go to hell someday. How did I know that it would be tonight?
We stopped for dinner of fried chicken, hushpuppies, and catfish. Then we pushed on into the night. I fell asleep curled up next to the window. I felt the car roll to a halt. Shaking off sleep I sat up and looked out the window and my blood froze.
There in the dark were huge glowing red letters was a sign marking where we had stopped. HELL was written large against the black pitch. I was in shock! The first words out of my mouth were: "Oh Shit! I've really Focked up this time!" I tried to hide on the floorboard of the backseat while my grandparents began to laugh.
"What's wrong with you boy?" My grandfather said. "We just needed gas so I pulled into this Shell station." He pointed to the sign and now that I was awake I could see the burned out S. They laughed till tears ran down their cheeks, And I laughed along because I got a bonus, they found my reaction to be too funny to give me an ass-whoopin'.