Monday, June 22, 2015

What The Heaven

From time to time, as now, I contemplate stopping the daily blogpost. My mental exercise program, but it takes more time and is more trouble to write than the physical exercise program is to walk. It shows more of myself than I care to observe or to reveal. It isn’t that there’s nothing to say, it’s saying such trivia into a world so deep in horror. In my vocation, it’s realizing too much and telling. It’s that my knowing is circular and going down the same street so often. 

The ratty old yellow building where Mulberry meets 5th Street and W. Beach Drive was first a restaurant in my memory, Daisy Mae’s, opening in the late 1940s.
 We went there after church for Sunday dinner now and then. I would have fried chicken or fried oysters. If “who are your people?” is the question, I think Daisy Mae was daughter of the owner of Mattie’s Tavern, where Hunt’s is now at Beck and 12th in St. Andrews.

The old BayLine train station is gone, it was a pile of smoking, smoldering rubble when I drove by one morning several years ago, but the ramshackle building next door to the west is still there. For long years the Railway Express station, it last served as a law office.

One of my worries is the Studebaker dealership at the point of Oak and 4th will be demolished. I don’t want the building, but there is a red

1950 Studebaker Champion Starlight coupe sitting there every time I drive by. No matter if I'm the only one who sees it.

There’s that other pointy-end car dealership too, Harrison Olds, W. Beach Drive and 5th Street, with the all new 1948 Futuramic Olds 98 in the window.

I didn’t want an Oldsmobile, I wanted a Buick, but for 1948 the Olds and the Cadillac got a new body that Buick didn’t get until 1949 and had it only that one year. In another totally new body, the 1950 Buick’s front grill melted and ran down the bumper,

but that also only lasted one year. Before that, my Aunt Mildred and Uncle Paul had a gray 1947 Chevrolet convertible, which they let me drive at age 13 and 14, with the top down. Favorite aunt and uncle, they were always exceedingly loving and generous toward me. When the girls started arriving, DD and Paul traded in the convertible for a 1950 Buick Super sedan. To me it was the ultimate luxury, Dynaflow,

the first car I ever drove with a PNDLR. In a few years, the PNDLR was standardized industry-wide to PRNDL. An Episcopalian, I liked the old way best of course.

There was a Seven Seas restaurant (this was before the marina was built out into the Bay at the foot of Harrison Avenue) maybe near the old bus station on 5th Street, between the bus station and the Dixie Sherman. Angelo Butchikas had his first restaurant along in there too, before it moved across the bridge to the beach. A friend and member of our St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Angelo had a luscious Buick Super Riviera coupe, yellow with a black top. Even though I had to acolyte, it was worth going to church just to see that car. It was either a 1951 or a 1952. The Korean War was in full swing, and those two year Buicks were nearly identical. The 1951 had good chrome that lasted; the 1952 had crummy wartime chrome that soon rusted away. The 1952 offered optional green tinted glass windows for the first time. And the 1952 had an extra bit of chrome on the rear fender over the taillight. These things may seem like trivia, but they will be on St. Peter's examination before letting us in through the pearly gate. That Buick below is a 1952. One can't be too careful about these things.

Angelo died in a car accident while I was in my MBA program at UMichigan. Tom Sale, prominent local attorney and judge died then also. My mother turned 50 years old while I was there. Malinda was four, and Joe was two. We had a picnic table in our front yard, and somewhere around the house there's a photo of Joe sitting on the picnic table and me standing behind him giving him a haircut. He was a little blond boy like Christian. 

The mind wanders, doesn't it. Thinking of deaths while I was at college, my Uncle Charlie, the Reverend Charles Knight Weller, died while I was a freshman at UFlorida. I have the red leather BCP that Uncle Charlie gave me September 14, 1949, for my fourteenth birthday. Uncle Charlie baptized me and Gina at the same service in 1938, says the parish register at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. 

Linda’s uncle Jimmy, Lucy Peters’ older brother James Mustin, also died that year too, while I was a freshman at UF. I always thought he’d be governor of Alabama some day. You never know. Speaking of --

Both this past Saturday and the Saturday before, I had funerals of old friends and parishioners at Trinity, Apalachicola. One interment at Magnolia Cemetery, the second in the memorial garden. What happens when we die? Belief has evolved over the centuries, including to popular American Christian belief, which is what we like to believe but doesn’t tie with St. Paul unless one starts rationalizing. But WTH, St. Paul didn't know either. It doesn’t matter though, and just because we believe it, that don’t make it so; but nevermind anyway, because seeing that we don’t know for sure, we can take comfort in believing whatever we like to believe. What I believe is very simple and does not have me worrying for the rest of eternity about those I love. 

We’ve changed our walk to 6:00 a.m. because of the summer heat. Last Monday morning we walked at seven o’clock and upon walking in the door here at home afterward, I collapsed into bed for the morning, it was that heat-exhausting. For all that, this pause is the best part of the walk.

Ah, life in My Town, which is close enough to Heaven for me. Except for my choices and adventures while I was away, I could be sorry that I left it for so many years. 


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