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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Blue (10/08/09)

TITLE: My Merry Oldsmobile
By Dee Yoder


Going to Grandpa’s house was like no other adventure. Grandpa Cecil was a recluse, and though he didn’t mind dancing with the town ladies come Saturday night, he spent most of his days at the end of a long, lonely lane. Some days when Dad and I went to visit, the road would be thick with mud from rain the day before, and we’d have to park Dad’s shiny blue Oldsmobile and trudge two miles into the hollow for our visit.

One visit, I looked around at the mountains that surrounded us and marveled that, though it was modern 1967, this kind of pioneer-like place still existed. The birds cheered us on, and wind-tussled pine trees whistled as we passed them. No neighbors shared this lane, so we had the whole hollow to ourselves.

I felt the hot sun coat my bare neck and arms and took a deep, scented-pine breath. “This is nice, Dad,” I said softly.

He smiled down at me and laughed. “Never hurts to get out in the fresh air and go back to your roots,” he agreed. Dad started whistling, and soon I recognized his favorite tune.

I grinned and sang along. “Come away with me, Lucille, in my merry Oldsmobile…”*

We walked along, singing and whistling, and then grew quiet. I could hear the chuff chuff chuff of our shoes in the thick Kentucky dust. Some of it swirled high enough to choke me, and I coughed.

“You know something?” Dad asked.

“What?” I visored my hand and watched Dad’s face. His mahogany-tanned skin evidenced his Cherokee heritage, and his smile lines creased white along his browned cheekbones.

“I remember playing a 76 record of that song when I was a squirt. Mom had the record in her old Victrola,” he offered.

“You did?”

“Yep. I loved it so much, I’d wait until Mom was outside tending her garden, and then I’d drag a kitchen chair over to the living room, hop up on the chair, and turn the crank of the Victrola. I kept the turntable whizzing while I played that old beat-up record over and over again.” Dad glanced at me, his gray eyes sparkling. “’bout wore it out, that’s for sure,” he laughed.

I barely breathed, aware of this sacred secret of Dad’s early childhood, rarely shared with anyone. The memories before his Mom’s death from tuberculosis, when Dad was just twelve, were hardly spoken. I didn’t want to intrude, but my heart was aching to hear more about those mysterious years.

“You must have been happy, Dad.” I prompted gently.

He paused, thinking it over. “Yeah—Mom was a sweet woman. Those were her records from her teen-aged years. She brought that Victrola with her when she married your grandpa.” He sighed. “That’s one of the few times I remember being happy, I guess.” He stared into the distance. “Maybe that’s why I always buy Oldsmobiles. Huh. Never thought of that before.”

We trudged onward in silence. I knew the moment had passed for more recollections, and I purposely sealed the conversation in my heart. I wanted to remember our talk forever.

Later that afternoon, as we prepared to leave Grandpa, Dad stopped and turned to him. “Dad, whatever happened to Mom’s Victrola?”

Grandpa thought a minute. “Well, I think everything got put in that old shed out back of the cabin. Should still be there.”

Dad nonchalantly dug the toe of his boot into the dust. “Hmm. Think anybody would care if I took it home?” he asked.

In the quiet that followed, I could feel hope rise in my heart, my fingers crossed into wish-symbols.

“I don’t see why not, Boy. Next time you come, bring your pickup and I’ll help you load it.”

Dad grinned at me, and we shared our secret thought as I grinned back.

Our trek to the road was filled with small talk and chatter about touch-me-nots and baby copperheads. Dad whistled a little more and told silly stories and big tales about his Army days and hunting adventures.

When we came to the car, the blue reflection of the sky on the Oldsmobile’s own blue skin made it shimmer like a mirage, and I suddenly imagined Dad as a boy, singing along with his Victrola, tragedy far in the future, his innocence yet untouched.

I looked at Dad, my eyes teary, and smiled.

*My Merry Oldsmobile: 1905, with music by Gus Edwards and lyrics by Vincent P. Bryan.

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This article has been read 829 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Bryan Ridenour10/15/09
Such a sweet story of fathers and son. I could picture the scene playing out. Well done.
Laury Hubrich 10/15/09
What an awesome memory brought to life of times gone by.
Mona Purvis10/15/09
I love this gentle, sweet story. Made me think of The Walton's. We don't get enough of boys/men stories, do we? Loved this one.
Charla Diehl 10/16/09
I loved the relaxed feel of this tender tale as father and son shared special moments.
Debra Martinez10/17/09
I enjoyed the story too, seeming so effortlessly unfolding, but I clearly saw a young girl as the narrator, cherishing special secrets with her dad. Did I miss a clue? Thanks for the story.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/18/09
The descriptions and the memories are magical in this lovely story--has to be a dad and daughter.
Betty Castleberry10/20/09
This is a really charming story. I loved the banter between the father and child. Nicely done.
Ruth Brown10/20/09
Dee, This was a really good!
Yvonne Blake 10/21/09
I love the mood in this one...very nostalgic!
Jan Ackerson 10/21/09
Very good--both at what was said, and at the unsaid story that made me want more, and more, and more.
Virgil Youngblood 10/21/09
Great read, wonderful memories. The dust swirling, they were walking the muddy lane because it had rained,seemed out of sync. I remember trips down a muddy lane to my grandfather's house and you have taken me there again.
Pamela Calhoun10/21/09
This drew me into a variety of emotions. Quite an enjoyable journey.
Joshua Janoski10/26/09
Funny how we subconsciously do things without realizing why we do them. Like with this man always buying Oldsmobiles because they reminded him of the good times.

Sweet story that was fun to read. I appreciate you sharing it, Dee.