|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.
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.
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!)
Okay, now remember the little building I saw up on the hill??
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...