Now Playing: Effect and Cause, White Stripes. “I guess you have to have a problem, If you want to invent a contraption. First you cause a train wreck, Then you put me in traction. Well, first came an action, And then a reaction. But you can’t switch around, For your own satisfaction. Well, you put my house down, then got mad At my reaction.”
I’ll warn you right now this one’s full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Which is to say, don’t go looking for any meaning out of it.
My first memories are of living in the little house way out in the country, almost at the North Carolina line. How close? My sister started elementary school in North Carolina, even though we lived in Virginia.
I don’t remember a lot about it, only that Becky, my older brother Frankie and I were happy. As I remember, we had two cars, a blue Chevy Impala – don’t remember the year – and a 1957 Chevy Bel Air. It was pink with white accents, a real classic. I still smile when I see a car like it in an old movie or television show.
I can’t remember much about the house. I think it had three small bedrooms. But the only real detail I remember is the small hole in the living-room wall. It had been made, I was told, when Becky fired Frankie’s BB gun in the house. (To become the reserved, sweet person that she did, Becky had a checkered past growing up. She once broke a cereal bowl over Frankie’s head. And she dropped me out of the ’57 Chevy onto the sidewalk in town when we were visiting relatives.
One memory was of a birthday, maybe my fourth (which would have put it in 1961). I got a plastic fishing pole and bucket and was able to fish in it. I’m pretty sure they were the only fish I ever caught, though as an adult I did catch some crabs (put away the dirty minds) at the point in Emerald Isle.
The other memory I have was of what we did for entertainment. Which was walk to the country store about a quarter-mile or so away. It was my uncle Emory Watts’ store, and we kids were always welcome. There was a pool table – kids weren’t allowed to play, of course, but we could grab a soft-drink carton for a seat and watch the adults. There was hoop cheese, which was always good.
And there was the candy: My favorite, inexplicably, was always those miniature wax soft-drink bottles with two or three drops of syrup in them. But I also liked Mary Janes, peanut butter cups – I remember they weren’t Reese’s but I don’t remember what brand they were, maybe Boyer’s, the crowd that made Mallo Cups – and hard candy like hoarhound sticks. And orange crush and Coke in a bottle, even the small bottles.
We moved away right before I started school. In fact, we moved about one mile from Cluster Springs Elementary School, which would be convenient. Once I got old enough, I’d walk home most days (and still beat the bus).
It was built on what today was a pretty large lot, which was good until I started having to cut the grass. Built closer to civilization but still not in it. At the time, there was woods and pasture on all three sides. We’d drive over once a week or so and watch the progress of the construction. On one trip, I venture a little to close to the pasture. Got cow-licked. For real. To this day, I’m not crazy about beef.
This was the house I really grew up in. It wasn’t large, but there were three bedrooms, a living room, den, dining room, kitchen and a bath and a half. And a basement. I’d have a lot of fun in that basement through the years. And in that big front yard. I’d live there until I left for college. After that, I spend limited time there, a couple of summers, a little time after I finished college and a few days here or there after that.
I’ve a ton of memories about this house – some bitter but most very sweet. But those are tales for other times.
“Memory is deceptive because it is colored by today’s events.” _ Albert Einstein