Thursday, March 6, 2008

More on who influenced us.



I talked once before about always having a secret place, a hiding place, or as I refered to it before, a Sanctum-sanctorum.

When I was nine or ten years old my Laytonville buddy at the time was a kid named Gary Chapman. His dad, Orville, owned a logging truck, and my Dad owned a garage on the highway on the family ranch. I got acquainted with Gary because his dad and mine were building logging trucks together, out of just about anything that you could fit together.

Dad had a wrecking lot behind the garage. In the wrecking lot there were a lot of old cars that would still run a little bit. Gary and I would siphon gas out of the cars that didn't run, move batteries, and oil. We would eventually get a car running. The deal with my dad is if we could get a car running without asking him how to do it, we could drive it around the orchard and the back end of the wrecking lot. The deal with my mom was we BOTH had to be in the car anytime that it was running. We got pretty good at driving around and going through the gears. We did a lot of bragging about how good that we could drive.

Gary’s dad Orville, who was straight from Arkansas said: Ya’ hain’t a driver ’til ya cun back up with yur mirra’s”. So, we would go back to the wrecking lot, get in the car, and take turns backing around our road as fast as we could using nothing but “mirra's”. We had a few dramatic crashes which caused a whole new set of rules. We were no longer allowed near the orchard because grandma didn’t want us to back into any of her trees. Our wrecking lot road was pretty tight so we ran into a lot of things. That got to be a lot of fun, so we played demolition derby for a while. Of course that was the last straw for my mom. She told dad in no uncertain terms that she thought that kids driving cars was a crazy idea. You could tell that dad was proud of us, but mom laid down the law. So he told us that he would let us drive anyway we wanted to, but if we run into anything, or if mom even thought that we ran into anything, that it was all over, and we would have no more car privileges. We got real careful after that. But “careful” soon got boring.

One of the cars in the back of the lot had dirty windows, and you couldn’t see into it very well. We decided that that would make a good fort, so we sprinkled water on the windows and tossed some of the dust we just got through making on the window glass. We had a lot of dust from driving around in the dirt. It turned out just right. It was bright enough to see inside, but too dirty for anyone to see us. We soon figured out that we had to put the dirt on the inside because the other kids would find our fort, wipe the window clean and stick their tongues out at us.

We took a hack saw and cut the back of the front seat out and laid it between the back seat and the front seat so you could sit in the back seat and stretch your legs out like a recliner. We brought our funny-book collection and a carton of cigarettes that we “found”. We had a bunch of soda-pop, and a little wine that we found in a part-empty jug. We had a can to use for a bathroom in case we were “under siege” for a long time. We would sit in there all stretched out reading our funny-books and smoking cigarettes. The other kids would bang on the car, or throw a rock at it and we would laugh our butts off at them, because we had a “fool-proof fort”, with Inside frosted windows, locking doors and everything else we needed already inside.

One day there was a BANG, BANG, BANG, on the top of the car. We hollered “HA, HA, HA, go away stupid”. And mom said, “you kids get out here right now!” CRAP, BUSTED. We bailed out, smoke billowed out like in that Cheech and Chong movie, “Up In Smoke”. She said, “the fort is okay, but if I come by here and smell one more cigarette I’m going to tell your dad. Of course we made a deal with mom, because dad was the last friend that we had that would put up with us.
I kinda’ guessed that mom must have slipped and told Gramma Ruby, because the next day Gramma took me aside and gave me a long and detailed lecture on “the evils of smoking”. The standard talk; It stinks, it’s dirty, it’s a fire hazard, girls wont want to kiss you, you won’t be able to breath, you will have to put up with endless lectures about smoking.” OKAY, OKAY, OKAY, I give, I’ll never smoke again!

That was the last cigarette.

When did you learn to drive and back-up with your mirrors?
When did you learn how to smoke? When did you learn how to quit?

13 comments:

Kym said...

In college, I roomed with a group of cheerleaders. One of them, MaryAnn made smoking look incredibly sexy. She would slowly exhale the smoke out pouting lips and then inhale it through flared nostrils. In imitation, I bought the long brown cigarettes More. And tried to teach myself to smoke. Once at a party, the burning end dropped off and down my rather low cut shirt. YIKES!

I just didn't care to smoke much after that.

Ernie Branscomb said...

That's the trouble with those darn sexy cheerleaders. They lead us common folk astray.

I remember in high school I got lead astray by a cheerleader.

Robin Shelley said...

C'mon, Ernie! You can't just let a comment lay like that... tell us the rest of the story!

Kym said...

Yah, I vote for More!

Pernel S Thyseldew said...

http://cgi.ebay.com/1930-40S-GARBERVILLE-FLYING-A-GAS-STATION-VERY-GOOD_W0QQitemZ350029003772QQihZ022QQcategoryZ477QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Ernie, what can you tell us about Phil's Flying A gas station?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Phil Reed was a member of the Reed family that Reed Mountain was named after. The mountain is located south east of Benbow, south of Fish Creek, at the south end of Benbow Dam. The Reed family homesteaded the area. The descendants of the Reeds are Greg and Randy Jurrens., whose momma was a Reed. (Phyllis [Reed] Jurrens)

The service station was located on the north side of Melville at Redwood drive, where the movie rental place is now. (I think) There was another “Flying A” where The Giddy-up coffee drive through is located. It was run by a fellow by the name of Bill Bell. I think that the dealership moved there. This all happened before my time.

Maybe “Jim The Sharpie” knows.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Robin and Kym…
About the cheerleader…
Sorry, I can’t kiss and tell. All I will say is, sexy cheerleaders are high maintenance, and fickle.

Anonymous said...

The same anonymos who ate some of your cookies.--I think the service station where Giddy-up is was a Richfield Station unless Flying-A- was there before that.

Ben said...

It was last an Arco station. My friend Arco Dave worked there and later owned the building at Church and Locust that was called Heartbreak Hotel.
My first job was driving a 1000 gallon agricultural pest control truck for a guy who had a seizure and lost his license. I was 19 and never had driven even a car. I got a friend to take me out in his car all day until I felt I could pass the test. Went to work and had to back the damn truck out the driveway between the office and a cinder block wall. I was in a cold sweat and Horvie, the huge black guy I was driving for said:" Sheeee... you don't drive worth a damn. Let me drive." I said OK and he drove for a few days while I learned how to double clutch and then I was fine. He saved my butt and I kept the job. Probably shortened my life spraying DDT every day for two years but I'm still here and I still love to drive.

Ernie Branscomb said...

You're all right. The "Flying A?/Richfield?" that was there was torn down in the sixties and was rebuilt as an Arco, Gerry Goutermont owned it. After it closed Bob Hyder turned it into a drive-in restaurant.

Kym said...

There is a poem somewhere about how the author loves the sound of American place names.

When I come to your blog, I hear the names of my childhood--Hyder, Goutermont, Reed, Thorsens. I love the sound of their names. The sound conjures up friendly smiles and certain smells and photographs out of my past.

Eel River Ernie said...

Both of my folks smoked, mom smoked Lucky Strikes and dad smoked Bull Durham tobacco that came in little sacks with a yellow draw string and papers for rolling your own. Around the age of 12 I thought it was cool so I used to pilfer dad’s tobacco and make crude cigarettes that burned up way too fast. I quit smoking on April 28, 1987 at 6:38 pm.

I learned to drive and back-up with mirrors when I first started with the Forest Service as a firefighter. As Ernie knows, “getting the hell out of there” backwards can sometimes be a lifesaving maneuver. In later years safety dictated that you have a back-up alarm and a back-up guide person to keep you from running into the “trees in the orchard.” Two of my most memorable backing experiences came in fire engines and both involved backing into battalion chief’s vehicles. Both times the chiefs either parked or pulled up directly behind the engine, where they couldn’t be seen in my mirrors, and had their pickups remodeled. One was on a going fire where we had to “get the hell out of there.”

Robin Shelley said...

Gary Chapman. Wow. How long has it been since you've been in touch with him, Ernie? (I didn't know him but I recognize the name. Think he was probably about my aunt & uncle's age.)