Monday, October 3, 2016

where the heart is

 where the heart is

Heading toward my car with the home communion kit yesterday, a voice “Tom” - - invited me to drive a car of my dreams

1941 Plymouth Special Deluxe station wagon with full running boards. I’d sat in it before and lusted after it as it stirred memories. Our 1949 Plymouth station wagon 

was completely different, first postwar model, completely redesigned, with metal roof. The 1942, 

and the 1946, 47, 48 

were same essentially as the car I drove, all wood body, fabric top covering wonderful wood slats inside —

It all comes down to memories. Through WW2 my grandfather Gentry and my father’s sister Ruth both drove black 1941 Plymouth business coupes that I remember riding in

to me the 1941 Plymouth

had a crisper look than the 1940.

During that time my grandmother Gentry drove the 1942 Chrysler Windsor sedan

that I remember piling into Sunday mornings with siblings and cousins, and heading three blocks to East Hill Baptist Church, 

where before turning and doling out our nickel offering for Sunday School, my grandfather always tried to get there earliest to park on his corner facing out

for the quick exit after church drive home to fried chicken Sunday dinner.

Last Wednesday afternoon we drove by 1317 EStrongStreet where my mother grew up, where my grandparents added a second story on the back of the house after my cousins’ mother Margaret Harrison Gentry died July 1939 

and Wilbur, Margaret Ann and Bill moved to 1317. The house is now being renovated, likely gutted inside and saved hopefully for another century of families, what a grace.

The house that seemed so enormous to me as a small boy is just a little Florida cottage made home for loved ones, parents raised five children in a two bedroom one bathroom home always full of friends, relatives, and company especially at suppertime. 

What do I remember? Playing in the cars. My grandmother pressing pressing pressing the buzzer in Wilbur’s bedroom upstairs, trying in vain to wake him up, shrieking his name unto exasperation. Sunday dinner table crowded with family, piled high with food in due season. My grandfather's shhhhh to shush us before saying the Sunday blessing that was more deluxe than his daily blessing. Relatives rushing out Christmas evening to welcome, hug and kiss us as we arrived from Panama City to another Christmas tree piled high underneath with gifts for us, twice for me over the years a bicycle from Gentry Bros Loans & Pawns. Learning to skate the next morning on the sidewalk out front and round-the-block. Boy crush on a cute blond girl named Cathy Green from across the street. Coca Cola chest on the back porch always filled with icy cold cokes, first in ice, later with a new and modern machine in freezing cold water. Adjacent to the back porch, the laundry room with twin tubs where we had our baths, a cousin in each tub. Teenagers, taking the extra Chrysler out on the dark streets while the grandparents were out for the evening playing poker or canasta with friends, finding out that while the Imperial V8 would go like hell, a heavy foot could make even the Windsor 6 with Fluid Drive a hot machine. No matter: my mother and father, with my cousins’ father, had done the same from the same house and driveway a generation earlier. 

A sadness? No sadnesses — just Memories that are mine alone.


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