Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sunday Drive-Rumble Seat

Sunday Drive
Rumble Seat
8.5" x 11"
Here it is, another Sunday afternoon after a very exciting Aggie football game. All those overtimes! I didn't know that could be done. Wish I could have been there, but ticket prices are just too high now, so we have to settle for tv. And, we miss my favorite part of the game-the band.
Today's picture is a drawing of my family going somewhere-perhaps to see my mother's parents in Navarro county or a day trip to drive around Waco, where my parents met.
Daddy had a Ford coupe with a rumble seat when we were small. The interior was big enough for two adults and, maybe a small person in the middle. But, the long gear shift was on the floor in front of that space, so it made it difficult for anyone with legs that would hang below the seat to sit there. It worked to put my sister in the middle, when she was a baby. Or Mama would hold her.
But, when she got big enough, she moved to the rumble seat with me. We had quilts back there to wrap up in when the wind or cold got to be too much.
Our long hair would whip in the wind, even if Mama braided it. The wind would soon pull it loose. Sometimes, my sister would laugh at it. I just tried to hold my hair so it wouldn't hit in my eyes and mouth. We could duck down so the wind wouldn't hit us as much, but it still would whip around in the rumble seat. And, too, we couldn't see outside that way. All we could see inside the rumble seat were Daddy's tools scattered and the water jug he carried, in case someone needed a drink during the trip. Sometimes there were sacks of groceries , or a suitcase, if he was going to leave us at our other grandparents' home on the farm for a visit. Mama kept her purse with her for quick lipstick touch ups .
I showed Daddy in his favorite driving position, with his hat on, wearing kahkis, (on Suday, he usually wore his suit, unless he was going out to the pasture) and his arm out the window. No matter how cold it got, Daddy wanted the window opened at least a little crack. He said he needed it open to keep him awake. But the wind would blow right to the back seat and through the car. Heaters were not much good except in the front seat, and unless one had their legs right beside the heater. So, we had quilts to use throughout the car. If it was really cold, Daddy would bring his wool blanket and a wool long men's coat.
Mama is shown with her elbow resting on the edge of the side window.
There were no seatbelts in cars, so we could climb back and forth over the seat, when we rode in the sedan, crawl around, etc., until Daddy had his fill of that. Then he would fuss at us and we would be still for a while. We couldn't very well do that in the rumble seat, or we would fall out. Sometimes, we could sit in his lap and "help him drive", or stand on the seat beside him and see where we were going along the highway. I think I started learning to drive as soon as I could sit up and touch the steering wheel.
If the weather got really cold suddenly, or it rained, or hailed, we would move inside the cab. Mama would hold my sister, and I would curl up, with my legs on the seat, between my parents. If it was cold and bad when we started our trip, Daddy drove the sedan. We got to sit in the back seat, then.
One time, we were returning from Navarro county when it got really stormy. Mama was scared of storms and she begged Daddy to pull over. He finally did at the edge of a small town where there was a cotton gin. Since it was not that season, the gin was not being used. He pulled up to the parking area, and it began to hail. As the hail started falling heavily, Daddy pulled inside the gin. (I was more scared of getting in trouble for being in a gin than I was of the hail, and I started crying. I wondered if we were going to die, or would survive and be sent to jail for being in a gin that wasn't our's.) And Mama was crying in fear of the storm.
The sound of the hail on the gin, which was made of tin, was horrible, and we were ready to leave, even if it was hailing outside. But, we stayed until it let up. We drove out slowly, to green skies that changed to blue. I remember it being cold outside and we had to wrap up in blankets. We were all composed once more, knowing we had survived, but we completed the drive home in silence, inside the cab.
There were things to entertain us on our many drives, although we didn't have games, radio, CDplayers, laptops, or tv. All along the roads, there were the surprise signs that advertised Burma Shave. They were spaced out so that you didn't get the joke all at one time. We would read one, then wait for the next phrase, and so on for several signs. The last one always said Burma Shave.
Another thing that entertained us was for Daddy to blow his horn under every overpass. Everyone in the car had to put one hand on the ceiling of the car and make a wish. No one could talk. We had to stay that way until someone slipped and said something. The person who talked would not get their wish. It sure kept noisey kids quiet for a long while!
If we were going to Waco, we looked over the hills for the distant signs of the city. The tallest building was the Amicable building-a tall white building for an insurance company that was downtown and close to the Brazos River. We had a family tradition that the last one to spot the Amicable Building had to treat everyone else. Some people tried to lie and say they had seen it, when they really hadn't, in order to not have to buy everyone in the car a Coke or ice cream when we reached Waco. I carefully counted my change, worrying that my money would not be enough to treat everyone. Usually, a grown-up had to treat. I think they worked it that way because most of the kids didn't have but a few cents, or a dollar, if we were in a group going shopping.
There was a time when buzzards hitting windshields was a problem. A buzzard flying into a windshield could wreck a car, or even kill people. So, if a buzzard flew near, the car swerved and everyone ducked. We didn't have such an accident ourselves, fortunately. But, windshiled glass was not safety glass then, so it was a danger. I think buzzards have gotten smarter, now, as you don't see them on the highways often anymore. Occasionally they are on the side, after roadkill, but they usually circle off in the fields and definitely away from the freeways. We did count buzzards. There was a little rhyme that started "one for sorrow, two for joy, three for letter, four for boy..." that we would say. We always hoped to see at least two buzzards. If you only saw one buzzard, you had to watch it until it flapped its wings to avoid having sorrow or something bad happening.
We watched for trains, convoys of Army trucks and Jeeps, and landmarks. In those days, I wasn't looking for pictures to draw, as I do now.
We tried to teach counting by counting the telephone poles, or how many of one thing we would see, like how many red trucks, or Blue Plymouths might be on the highway before we got to a town. That was too much like math, to me, but we gave in and reluctantly participated in order for my little sister to learn counting, or, if we had a friend with us, it was something to do in the way of a game to entertain us. I got bored with it really fast and was ready to quit those games.
There were also certain landmarks that we relied on seeing with each trip.
There was a gas station that still had the gas pumps with glass on top, in which the gas was visible.
Near cities, there were tourist courts, with all their cozy little cabins.
There was a tree near a wide bridge that crossed a creek that often flooded. This was "Grandpa's Tree". Sometimes we stopped there, just south of Marlin. Trips seemed to take a long time, and we needed several rest stops. "Grandpa's Tree" was one of those places. It was named this because my great-grandfather always wanted to stop there. And, at that rest stop, they would have refreshments or a picnic and walk around a bit. I think that tree is finally gone, now. It was bulldozed to make a wider highway and bigger bridge. I hate to see that. I'm sure that they began stopping there in 1867, when he first came to Texas. After a little rest stop, we would continue across that long bridge. There were times when we had to turn around and go home because these bridges were covered with water.
In other years, there was drought and the creeks were dried up. But, the owners of that land planted something there for the cattle to feed on, and it was almost always bright green in the valley along the creek and under the bridge.
I recall another time when there were fears of Anthrax and herds of cattle were being killed. The cattle were shot, piled up, then burned. We worried that the Anthrax might spread, even on the smoke, and drift into areas where there were people and would infect humans in a disasterous epidemic. I can remember, along our drive, seeing those huge mounds of dead cattle, with smoke coming up from them, in that lush creek area, and hearing sounds of gun shots in the distance. Daddy had such a pained look on his face as he drove. I think they had already shot the cattle they needed to shoot, but I didn't have to see it.
And I felt anxiety about death and sorrow for the poor old cows. I was glad to get past there and into the city so we could look at other things. Maybe this visit, we could go to a movie, or get a treat. Usually, that didn't happen, though.
As we left my hometown, Daddy would always tell about keeping your car in good condition, with everything working properly. At the creek on the north end of town, he would tell, every trip, about a time when he and my mother were leaving town and a car had a wreck, at that very spot. There was a Mexican family in the car. The car caught on fire. Daddy stopped, along with some other men. They couldn't get the people out because the doors were wired together with coat hangers. The door handles didn't work, so they had wrapped coat hangers around the door posts to hold the doors together as they drove. The tops of the cars were made of thick cloth that looked like metal. Daddy got on top of the car and tried to pull people out. He said that he had the hand of a little girl, who was my age, and he started to pull her up. Her arm came off and she fell back into the fire. He said that all those people burned to death because they couldn't get to them. He had a pained look on his face when he told that story. He said that it really bothered him. And, he told the story almost every time he passed that spot.
Daddy had another car, a Ford sedan, that he liked to start with the crank. You could also start it inside, with a starter button, but he liked using the crank, or even to have Mama crank the car. She didn't like that very much. When he wasn't around, she used the starter button
Daddy loved cars. He loved to work on them and to drive. He never got rid of a car, until he traded in my first car. His dad, brother, and other family members had all kinds of cars, rusting away, in a pasture behind Grandpa's house. When they got a new car, they just took the old one to the pasture. There was even part of a Stutz Bearcat that had belonged to my great-aunt when she was young, in the pasture. Most of it had rotted or rusted away, but I remember the rounded little windshield and the steering wheel, and coils from the seats, pieces of wooden spokes that had been the wheels. There was quite an assortment to get rid of after they died and someone else moved onto the land.
One car that he liked to tell about was the sedan that he had when he was courting Mama. His car looked just like one that Bonnie and Clyde drove. He said that he was even chased a few times by police who mistook him for the infamous couple. That scared Mama to death. He got rid of that car, at Mama's insistance. The gang did go to that area some, so everyone was on edge.
In the drawing above, "Sunday Drive", I used my favorite drawing pencil, a #314 Draughting pencil. I like the effects that you can get with one pencil. They are hard to find in stores, now, though. The turqoise drawing pencils are good, but you have to use so many different pencils to get the effects needed. The #314 is very smooth and never scratchy.
I know that my rumble seat is a little off, but I wanted to tilt it a little so that the viewer can see inside the area a little, instead of just seeing the tops of our heads over the back end of the car.
Hope you get to have a nice Sunday afternoon drive today, without your hair blowing in your face!
And, I hope that you are enjoying my blog and will share it with others who might be interested. I have added some more links on the sidebar. These are sites I have found as I have searched for information and help with Macular Degeneration. In some of those sites, there are also a little art work and some writing by people who have experienced AMD.
As a note on the stork sites, while the storks are migrating for winter in Africa, and some of the webcams or sites are not working, there are still many pictures and much information online to enjoy. And, when the storks return, this will be an easy way to find the links to the webcams and sites to watch them as they nest in the spring. It's kind of sad to see those empty nests now. But, they will be back, if nothing happens to them between now and that time.
Be sure to check out the Artists and Authors links, and Interesting Sites on my page.
And let me know if you see something that you are interested in. I welcome your comments and support.

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