"Keep scribbling! Something will happen." Frank McCourt

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bubblegum and Tar

There was not a nicer man than Ernie B., the storekeeper. Growing up (country), his store was located across a highway from my childhood home and just sang with activity.

EM, my brother, and I would sit on the slope of our yard and watch the comin's and goin's of the mercantile. More days than not, our friend Ernie would toss Bazooka™ bubblegum across the highway and into our yard telling us to catch it.

Electronics Man (a.k.a my brother)

I don't remember ever catching the prize in the air. EM may have, I don’t know. (JW still can't catch anything thrown at her -couldn’t catch a cold thrown straight at her face. Well, maybe she could catch a cold.) Back to my story. Ernie could have walked the bubblegum over, but it was more exciting to see him toss it over the very serious highway and for us to try to catch it. He knew that and played the game. Ernie was a very good man.

I loved visiting the country store. I’ve always been a people watcher and I loved spying on the purchases and consumptions of others. Not only could you find people from the community getting their postal mail and visiting on the porch and in the store, but you could gaze upon the goodies and dream. When we could afford it our folks would buy us a pop (as we called it) and I always chose RC Cola™. What a treat. One of the best parts of that country store was that everybody knew your name (like a good bar, I guess?), family of origin and probably the day you were born. A tight community filled with love, care and a little bit of nosiness.

As I got a little older, I was thrilled and honored to be chosen to cross and get our mail. But, I was told by Angel Mom to hold the mail tightly and never ever drop any of it. Guess what? Yep, I did it. I dropped it. But, without those experiences how can we really learn?

Every summer I went barefoot- all the time, anytime, whatever time - around my country habitat. (JW’s feet still cry, when winter arrives, and she has to stuff them in closed shoes.) The highway next to our house was dangerous for small girls because of the traffic, but it was also painful on bare feet. You have to know me to know -who I am and how I operate. If it is there, then I want to conquer. And the challenge was to run across the hot and sticky bubbly tar surfaced road with my bare feet. By the time I crossed, my feet tingled from the hot sappy substance stuck to the bottom. (Angel Mom probably never knew I did this.) So I would sit on the well worn bench outside the store, (God bless this child) and pick the sticky tar from my feet, which by the way grew tough from summer wear. I didn't dwell on the pain, but it did burn. I would then get the mail and anything else Angel Mom needed from the store and race back across the tarry service, but only after looking to my right and left and then listening for any traffic that might be popping up over the hill. Oh and I hung on to the mail like my life depended on it.

So this is Ernie's store now -leaning -decaying -covered in vegetation. Ernie is long gone but not forgotten by me as I tell a snippet of his life story and how he impacted my life. Ernie was good man.

The way the old store looks makes me wonder did I just dream that life as a little girl living across from it. The wind blows and life changes -it seems.

Where are you old life, childhood of past. Take care, because your continuation doesn't last. Time goes by but memories linger until disease takes them or death takes them and other people forget. Tell the story. Journal it.


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