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Saturday, April 30, 2011

On the road again...part 4...panning for gold at the end of the rainbow...

So there we were, literally, driving off into the sunset...a ragtag team of three chickens, two turtles (I had forgotten about the tiny turtles in their plastic aquarium with genuine fake palm tree until yesterday) one German shepherd, one cat, two kids and one adult of questionable parental abilities all in a red 1967 Pontiac Ventura 2 door coupe.  So you can get the full mental picture...
Here is a simulation of Bunny waving goodbye to Ruth











 All of this in a....
Red 1967 Pontiac Ventura


I think you get the picture.

It got dark not long after we left and, since we were traveling through many-a rural area on our way to the thriving metropolis of Turtletown, Tennessee, Anna and I quickly noticed that there really ARE billions and billions of stars...as upset as we were, we realized that we needed to get over it and move on.  Bunnie did not tolerate a bad attitude and she was one to say "Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about!"  So we stopped crying and started stargazing.

A little about the Pontiac...that was a cool car!  The interior seats were genuine white vinyl that allowed your thighs to form a deliciously wet and sucky connection when the outside temps were just right to cause the optimum amount of sweat to form between said thighs and vinyl.  Of course, since air conditioning was for sissies, we didn't have it even though we had purchased our car in Florida...you know, where the weather sometimes gets a little warm?  So we drove with our windows open when the weather allowed (meaning it wasn't pouring down rain) and that was good because I think I might have mentioned Bunnie's affinity to smoke...alot...even if it WAS raining and the windows were up...secondhand smoke?  never heard of it...

Ok, so white vinyl interior, no A/C, a single back seat across the WHOLE back of the car and a HUGE back window complete with a child-sized window sill perfect for stargazing!!  Anna and I had many battles about whose turn it was to "sleep" in the back window (you are aware, of course, that back then, only LOSERS wore seat belts...shoot, our car may not have even HAD seat belts...I can't remember ever seeing them.) 


I guess a few hours after we started our trip, Bunnie pulled into a rest stop for a nap.  Anna's favorite place to sleep in the car was the front passenger wheel-well.  I slept in the back window because remember, the back seat was chalk full of animals (oh, and did I mention the litter box?  Uh, yeah, we had one for Snoopy.)  Now, Shadow was pretty easy to take care of on the road because we could easily walk her, but Snoopy was not at all fond of this whole car trip thing.  When we were stopped, we had to keep the windows most of the way up so he wouldn't jump out.  The chickens were a little noisy, but didn't really bother me that much.  The turtles weren't bad on a trip, but we had to be careful not to spill the water...they just hung out on the back floor board with a towel covering them so Snoopy wouldn't eat them.

So we slept there at the rest stop for a few hours.  Once we were up, we made a quick stop for coffee and sweet sixteen powdered donuts (remember those???  Delicious AND nutritious!!) at the gas station. 
A little while later, we were back on the highway, speeding towards a better life in Tennessee.  Bunnie always said that it was good to get a fresh start somewhere new and Anna and I were starting to get used to moving around...it was kind of normal for us.  (One of the positive things about our experiences was that we always made friends quickly...we didn't have time to waste!!)


Bunnie liked to sing songs and play games while she was driving.  She was trying to get us to sing a song that day...I don't remember which song, but Anna didn't want to sing.  I tried to coax her into singing because I could see that Bunnie was getting aggravated with her for not going along, but she refused and said she didn't have to sing if she didn't want to.  (Alas, those were to be our lifelong roles...me trying to smooth things over and Anna rocking the boat as hard as she could because she always knew things weren't right.)  I knew that she had gone too far saying that!  Bunnie was trying to reach over the back seat to hit Anna, but Anna was too quick and kept ducking out of the way, really pissing mom off!  Bunnie was now determined to knock Anna's block off for being disrespectful and started turning towards the backseat and swinging her right arm.  This kept causing her to swerve the car to the shoulder and then she would catch herself and straighten the car back up only to repeat the whole process immediately.  After about a minute of this nonsense, I heard a siren and peeked up over the backseat to see a Georgia Highway Patrol car pulling us over.
Please remember, dear reader, that Bunnie and "Johnnie Law" as she was prone to call them were not known to be old friends.  She had previous experience with law enforcement and it wasn't all that positive.  Her first response when she saw that she was being pulled over was to tell both of us to shut up (for we had proceeded to cry and wail just KNOWING she was going-to-jail-for-whatever-she-just-did-which-was-all-Anna's-fault!) and then shove something under her front seat before getting out of the car and walking back to the officer.  I, of course, knew that what she was shoving under the front seat was her gun.  Bunnie was always packing "for protection" although I was sure that if anyone ever messed with her, she could kill them with the look in her eyes...it was deadly.

While Anna and I cried and imagined the worst, Bunnie sat in the front seat of the patrol car for what seemed like forever.  After a while, she and the officer walked back smiling and chatting like best friends.  I don't know what Bunnie said or did to that officer, but he sure did seem like he liked her.  (Don't forget, she was a good looking woman in her early 30's back then.)  The officer leaned into the open driver's window and said, "Now you girls behave and stop giving your mama a hard time or I'll come and arrest you!"  After that close call, everyone was quiet until we reached the Tennessee border.  Once we were in Tennessee, there were steep cliffs at the sides of the road and there were trickles of water coming right out of the huge slabs of rocks.  Bunnie said that it was spring water and was the best tasting water in the world.  She stopped the car on the side of the road and we got out and went over to one of the trickles.  She told us to cup our hands under the water flow and drink some.  I remember that water being freezing cold and a little sweet...it had a taste unlike anything I had ever had...


I don't know how she did it, but Bunnie could always find anything when she was driving.  It never failed that she got us right to where we were going every single time.  We had never been to Turtletown before, much less to the shack we were about to call home for the next year, yet she drove us right to it (after passing through Ducktown, which had a Piggly Wiggly grocery store!)
When we arrived at "the shack" as we came to call it, Anna and I were excited!  We could see that the "house" was small and was surrounded by woods.  At the rear of the house, the treeline rose up...it looked like a mountain to us!  We could see a little tiny building up on a hill about a hundred yards from the house.  We started running around the yard as Bunnie let the animals out of the car (except for the turtles...they were stuck in their little plastic house.)  Snoopy promptly disappeared into the woods with Shadow chasing him.  The chickens started pecking the ground as soon as they were out of their cage.  After checking all around, we saw that no one was home.  The door to the house was unlocked and Bunnie made us help her get the clothes and her trunk (where she kept all her super-top-secret papers and stuff we were never allowed to see) out of the car and into the house.  Once we were inside, I saw that there was one bedroom and a main room.  There was also a kitchen with a pump...a PUMP! at the sink.  There was no bathroom.  I couldn't find a bathroom and I needed to go...badly!  "Where's the bathroom Mommy?"  Bunnie didn't know, but she told me she suspected it might be outside somewhere...huh?

Okay, now remember the little building I saw up on the hill??
So this was our "bathroom" although, of course, we never took a bath in there.  The inside looked very much like this...
And you had to take a stick in with you to "swish" inside the opening so that any spiders that were up under the rim would go away and not bite you in the butt when you sat down...It was the coolest thing ever and Anna and I were thrilled!  It did have a weird smell, but it wasn't bad once you got used to it...really!

Mama Hickey and Susie (her daughter) weren't at the house, so we got back into the car and started driving down the road to where Bunnie said they would be.  Mama Hickey's family had owned a mountain for generations.  It was called Blalock Mountain and was not far from the shack.  Mom said that Mama Hickey would be building her house on Blalock Mountain and she was likely there working on the place it would go.  We drove down a long, winding road and could see a large (to me) mountain getting nearer as we drove.  Bunnie stopped the car beside the dirt and rock road.  I looked around and didn't see anyone around but she told us to get out of the car.

Once we were out, she walked over to a little stream that was running right across the road.  It was a real creek!  A little one, but real nonetheless!  At the side of the road, it was about a foot deep and only about 6 or 8 inches at the center of the road.  There were little rocks and tiny fish and spiders in the water.  Shadow immediately started trying to bite the water spiders and mom suggested that we sit in that stream and cool off...what a fabulous idea!  So we sat right down in the water and started to pick up handfuls of little stones and pebbles...Bunnie said we were panning for gold because this was the end of the rainbow...and that's where Mama Hickey found us an hour later when she was coming down the road heading back to the shack for the day...

5 comments:

Alison@Mama Wants This said...

You sure had an exciting childhood!

Dwija {House Unseen} said...

Oh my gosh...did your mom leave you guys by yourselves in the water for Mama Hickey to find you or was she there and did Mama Hickey know you were coming and....Ack! More please!

AnnaMarie said...

I soooo miss shadow and that damn creek. It would be fun to go back and play on that mountain, you, me and the boys and show them a part of our past :)))) Keep going your doing great. Love ya sis , A

No. 7 said...

Kids are so resilient. Crazy how when you grow up and look back you realize what was really going on, right?
"Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about!" Can't tell you how many times I heard that threat!
Keep going!

Diana Burfield (BettyShmetty) said...

Thanks for the comments ladies! I have been soooo busy with baseball (playoffs) and haven't had the time to think about this stuff much less write about it! I will get back to the story, I promise! There is definitely more to it.