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May 10th was Janieythe Elizabeth Claybrook Carter Blake’s Birthday

I just called her Jan. She was my best friend since we were five years old. Her grandmother (Jessie) and my grandmother (Nettie) were sisters. So doing the cousins twice removed stuff, we were branch kin.

I do so remember when we were in school, as little girls, we would hold hands. I remember also, when she told me, she couldn’t hold my hand any longer, we were too old. I was just crushed.

We rode horses, played basketball, rolled our hair on big soup cans with gobs of Dippity-Doo hair gel and long hair pins early on Saturday mornings, so our hair would be full and STRAIGHT for our double dates with Johnny and Jimmy. Oh my goodness how I lived for those nights.

I was Jan’s maid of honor when she married Johnny O. Carter. She had gone with him since she was 15 he was so much older than she. She did graduate High School. I think it would have killed Loette, her mom, if she hadn’t graduated.

We used to go to Smith Mountain, to the fire tower, and we were skipping school. We didn’t do anything, but enjoy being away from everything.

Oh how I remember when I was with Jimmy on a date. We were double-dating, and scared I would make a mistake. The guys got out to go in the store. Jan turned around and looked at me as if I had two heads. She screamed at me, “Will you please loosen up some! For Goodness sake, he is not going to break you if you let him touch you. Let him put his arm around you! Do something!” I remember, when he got back into the car, I grabbed him and planted a kiss on him that would have curled his toes. She looked around and said, “I didn’t say eat him up!” Mortified! He didn’t seem to notice.

And I could tell you many times of when we laughed until we cried at things that didn’t seem to matter to others. I would go with her to her daddy’s, when her parents divorced, and we would ride horses all weekend. I loved being with her, all the time.

Johnny was not allowed at Herman’s house. Her daddy was so strict on her it was scary.

I remember when Herman took us to town so we could get our driver’s license. That would take a whole chapter of FUNNY to tell you all the things we did, but to put it mildly, it was good that Herman was a Deputy Sheriff for the County. We would have NEVER gotten our license if Trooper Dozier was not such good friends with Herman. When I failed to give all my turn signals, failed to show I was stopping in the middle of the road, and could NOT keep Herman’s car cranked, Dozier gave me my license. And Jan leveled a parking meter, trying to parallel park. Trooper Dozier told Herman to take us to the country and teach us how to drive. He did!

Jan and I were friends, all the way to the time she called me when she knew she was dying with cancer. I spent several weeks, almost every time I could break away to get to Lake Martin, to see her. We sat and talked about the Bible, our lives, our loves and our mistakes. By this time, she was re-married to Ed Blake and had been so happy with Ed. She had a son with Johnny, Jamey. But Jamey could not love Ed any more than he did his own daddy.

The only trouble I had with Jan, she was an active alcoholic. I talked with her every time I could about her drinking. She never believed herself to be an alcoholic. They never do! I talked with her sister, Ellen and even her brother James Oscar Claybrook, who was the head of the FBI in Alabama. They all told me they had tried to reach out to her. You could not help someone who did not want help was their answer.

Ellen called me, when she knew she was dying. I spent the last few days with Jan. I left the one night I needed to stay with her. She died through the night, and I was just destroyed. (I will never forget Ray would not go with me to her funeral.) I helped give her eulogy and I spoke at the graveside. I truly know what loving someone is like and losing them.

I loved Jan with a pure love from my heart! She was closer than a sister.

When I pray each morning, I ask the Lord to tell her hello for me.

I know she is waiting for me, and we will ride horses, eat for seven years and never gain a pound, and we will be in mansions side-by-side.

Jan, I miss you more as each year rolls by, but I am closer to seeing you too.

God, tell her she is so loved and missed…

Dee Bradley  5/10/2013

B-16 at Wind Creek Park (a Short Story)

 

B-16 at Wind Creek Park

By: Deliska

Short Story

Ray and I bought a well-seasoned fifth wheel travel trailer, 1994 Avion Fleetwood the first of September. It is 35’ long with a big slide out in the kitchen/living area. I will download several pictures so you can see how it looks.

We had planned for me to go camping at Wind Creek State Park in my home town for a week in the near future, and since Jaye, my son, wasn’t able to have his divorce hearing this week, we decided this week would be as good as any.

‘The Husband’ didn’t feel good on Friday, at all, so we decided to wait until Saturday morning to get our ‘stuff in one sock’ and get on the road. After getting up early, going to the Waffle House for breakfast, and getting home to pack the trailer out, nothing seemed wrong with the world. We stopped long enough to say our prayer, which we always say, before we get on the road going anywhere.

After getting all my weeks clothes packed, the food, make-up, jewelry, shoes, and all the other things you need to empress a family of visitors (HA) you hope will visit during the week, we were ready to pull out. I was in the car, since ‘the man’ would not let me go alone in the truck, pulling the trailer all the way to Alex City and Lake Martin, Alabama.

“It’s only two and a half hours!” I begged. He said, “I don’t care if it’s two and a half miles! You are not going to go away by yourself! You won’t be able to handle the set up and tear down!”

I didn’t argue!

Ray was in the big red Dodge duly and I was sitting in my Chrysler 300 watching him maneuver the BIG trailer between the two little posts which flank our drive. I was afraid he could not get the trailer out of the drive without hitting one, pulling the trailer out on the road. He did have to back it up once. It was a little close. Then when he got it in the road, I heard this GOSH AWFUL noise and I thought one of the tires had gone in the ditch. He stopped. I got out of the car and was just frozen to the spot.

I saw him walking around the truck and trailer. Then I saw his face, the color of powdered ivory talc. He walked up the driveway and I just held open my arms. He walked into them and laid his head on my shoulder. I thought he was going to faint. I walked down to the truck with him and we assessed the damage.

When he was getting the trailer ready, hooking on the fifth-wheel, he thought he had the latch locked and the pin in. When he pulled out into the road, the trailer came off the hitch and dropped down on the back of the truck sides. It tore the tail-gate off and it was hanging by only the chains. The side of the truck bed went into the underside of the front of the trailer (Ray said thank goodness there wasn’t anything there).

Several cars, by this time, had gone by on Old Cartersville Road, but a very nice couple did stop to help us. He got out and saw what Ray was trying to do, which was jack the trailer up enough to get the fifth-wheel engaged and LOCKED. They got this done while we were standing there waiting for the jacks to go back up, they did not stop. Ray had to stop the jacks when the motor started to click.

I tried to tell him we would just pull the trailer to the shop and forget the trip. He said no, we were ready and we were going.

We drove to Alabama, all the back roads, him pulling the trailer and me in the car, so he would not be on the interstate. We went through Roanoke, Wadley, and in Daviston cut-through to Horsebend to Jackson’s Gap. When we got to Hwy 280 we went north to Hwy 38 and went toward Wind Creek. We had to wait at least an hour for the people to clear off the site we wanted which had electricity, sewer and was right on the water in the shade. It didn’t hurt it was on a level site. I paid my $220 for my week. We found B-16 and Ray got the big rig backed into place. Thank God I didn’t have it to do!! He was right, I couldn’t back it up….pull through maybe, but no backing up!

When we got out and started trying to get all the things set up, it was not hard to do. I thought this would be a piece of cake. I pulled out the leveling planks, chock blocks, electric cords, got the water lines and sewer lines hooked up while Ray was getting the front jacks lowered. I noted he was taking a long time getting them down. I figured he was letting me see how hard it was to ‘set-up’.

I was ready to start lowering the back jacks, but I know you don’t do this until you get the front ones down, so I went to the front of the trailer. Ray had the look on his face, AGAIN.

“Dee, the jacks won’t come down!” he whispered.

“What do you mean, the jacks won’t come down?” I sneered, and continued, “Just whack ‘em, and they will drop!” He didn’t even look at me by this point!!

After him working, for over an hour…and me just giving up, going inside with the dog, to a cool air-conditioned trailer, he finally came in and told me the jacks were not going to come down. There was NO WAY to jack up the trailer, off the truck, so he could go home. We couldn’t level the trailer so I could stay.

I loaded up the leveling planks, chock blocks, electric cords, water lines and sewer lines. We were going back home.

Ray pulled the trailer up to the front of the campsite, so I could see about getting back my money paid for the week because I could not stay. I made a wrong turn and ended up in the middle of a wreck at the back of the campsite store. When I got around to the front, she gave me back my money, but Ray had tried to call me three times. My purse had dumped in the floor, as did Scooter, when I realized I had turned the wrong way and had to STOP due to the wreck. I got the dog back on the seat but the purse was hopeless.

I pulled around, to try to get up beside Ray in the truck, but he saw me coming and took off. At this time, I just pulled the purse up, praying the phone would not fall out in the floor, and started digging. Thank God, it didn’t. I had to ramble in the mess and I finally found the phone. I called Ray and said, ‘why in the name of bloody *&% did you take off and not wait for me to pull up beside you?’ As if he should have known what I wanted, he let me know in so many loud words, how was he supposed to know this is what I wanted.

While he was pulling up those long hills, out of the park area, he was meeting a motorcycle. A deer darted in front of him and it went between him and in front of the motorcycle. Neither one hit the deer, but if either one of them had another coat of paint, they would have killed the deer, or been killed by it. I wonder what the poor guy on the motorcycle thought!

We decided to go back through the woods to Deloris’, in New Site, and leave the trailer in her yard, since she was in Millbrook at Kelly’s, and we would go to The General for a bite to eat. We could go in my car. It had been a long time since the Waffle House at 7:30am.

Big Daddy Riddle called me when he pulled up and saw the big rig in his yard. He didn’t go with Deloris and Allison. He said, “Where the hell are you?” I told him…and he then said, “Who the hell are you with?” I told him I was with Ray. He said, “OK. I was just wondering where the hell you were, since this hotel is in my yard and I couldn’t find you anywhere!” I told him he could come over but he said nope he just ate.

We came back by and Ray saw Big Daddy for a bit but I didn’t even get out of the car. We just took off for home.

There was no trouble, until I was within two miles of the house. Another little deer ran out in front of ME right before I turn left at Fairview Church Road on Highway 113 coming from Yorkville to Rockmart. I wasn’t hurt but the deer lost her life by tearing the driver’s side headlight out! I did not see the deer until I hit it! Usually you can see a deer and swerve to avoid it! Not in this case! There was no time to swerve at all! A couple following behind me saw what happened and they pulled up, rolled down their window, asking if I was okay. I said I was except for being shook up. They kept asking if I wanted anyone called and I kept saying no! My husband was behind me pulling a trailer. They kept saying, “I think you should call him!” I finally said, “You don’t understand! If I call him and tell him I hit a deer, after the day we just had, he will lose it!” I bet they thought he would beat me or something!! Ha! ha!! They left!

I almost didn’t breathe until he got home afraid something else would happen. When he did pull in, and parked the trailer, I walked out to where he was in the yard. I was almost crying. He asked, ‘what is wrong?’ He thought it was just the day!! I said, “You are not the only one who had accident today!” His eyes got really big and he said, “What is wrong? Are you alright?” I said, “Yes, but the car isn’t! I hit a deer!”

He went over to the car and said, ‘so you’re the one who hit the deer I saw on the side of the road back there? I didn’t know if it was a deer or a dog. Don’t worry! If you’re okay, it’s all that matters!’

What more can you ask for?

Needless to say, we went to church today to thank our Lord for Grace, Mercy and Looking after us yesterday in so many ways.

We have a very good friend who can fix our trailer with fiberglass so you cannot tell anything happened! The tail-gate is not as easily fixed. We are going with a mesh tail-gate for a while. The rest of the little dents and scratches will come out at the same time. The car will go to Pruitt’s in Yorkville….the only place Ray will take my car for repairs. He was the person to fixed it when Lori wrecked it. This should only cost about $400. If it is less, I will be extremely thrilled.

The jacks on my trailer will be another question all the way around. I need to take the trailer to a person who can go through it with a fine tooth comb and fix all the little things….but then I am afraid of what it would cost if I do. The jacks are where the damage is worse in the nose of the trailer.

I am not sorry I have my trailer. It will just take a little time to get the bugs worked out. These are things which will not happen again…..I assure you!

The next few stories will be better than this one…at best I got to see B-16 at Wind Creek State Park as a nice camp-site.

 

 

Dee Bradley, Author

“From the Porch”

Beth sat on the front porch of her grandmother’s home. She was on the front row of the drag race every Saturday night. The boys from the country loved to drag race down the middle of town, showing which one of them had the faster car.

Beth could tell which cars belonged to the McDougal’s boys, and to the Cowall boys, but she had trouble telling when the Jones boys came to run. The cars would line up, two by two, in front of Wilson’s store, which was next door to her Grandmother’s house.  There was at least a quarter of a mile straight road until you got to the curve at the High School. The start would be a squeal of tires, burning rubber with white smoke wafting down to ‘the porch’. All one could see for a few moments was the white lights floating through the smoke until the red taillights past the porch. She held her breath, hoping the cars would not run into each other, as they swerved into the curve and out of sight. All the kids in school knew who those boys were, and the grown-ups wanted the drag racing stopped. The adults called the police.

Since this drag race happened thirteen- miles out in the county, the boys would be gone before law ever saw, or heard, what they endured. That was what the grandparents thought; they had to ‘endure’ that drag race. The kids loved it.

Maybe Beth was not supposed to love the excitement of these Saturday nights, but she looked forward to the races. She loved the red and white ’57 Chevrolet that belonged to Johnny Cowall. He not only had the faster car, he had black hair, blue eyes and the tall physique. Beth thought he was the best-looking person she had ever seen. He was nice to everyone with his shy smile and quiet ‘hello’.

Now, the McDougal boys were something different. They were loud, boisterous and just plain mean. Nevertheless, everyone said those boys would give you the shirts off their backs, if you ask them, or they knew you needed it. However, Beth did not like them because they never looked at you in the eye, or made you feel like they would smile if their life depended on it. She never gave much thought to the other boys because their cars were bad.

By the way, Beth remembers so well, she could not have been much older than fourteen years old. Her family lived with her Grandmother and Granddaddy one complete winter. They would sit out on the porch, watching the races, wrapped in flannel pajamas and winter coats. Cousins would be visiting some weekends, and they made a party out of it, eating roasted peanuts, pecans and sipping hot chocolate.

When the law would arrive, the races would have been over for at least ten minutes, so they would be off the front porch, inside by the open fireplace. The cousins and Beth would unwrap bodies and be warming up, singing or playing games.

The last time she remembered sitting on the front porch, watching a drag race on Highway 22 East, was an early spring morning. The boys lined up, with their shiny cars ready to prove one more time, which one had the faster car. This time, a new person lined up to race. Beth had never seen him before. She did not think her Granddaddy knew who he was either, and her Granddaddy knew everyone in town. The air filled with anticipation and concern.

She did not know who dropped the start flag early that evening, but a shrill scream came out of nowhere. The type of scream you hear in a horror film. It was louder than the shrill of the tires and it went on with such force. They all froze, looking toward the cars.  Beth saw two cars sliding into each other and then into the people standing on the edge of the road: eyes filled with fear, mouths covered by hands, tears streaming down their cheeks, people were going into shock.

There on the pavement lay the new person, motionless. His eyes were wide open and you could tell there was no light in those eyes. One of the girls started screaming, hysterically. Beth’s mother was trying to get her to calm down. Beth’s daddy was over the boy, trying to find some sign of life. There was none. Her Granddaddy was telling her uncle to call the ambulance and tell the police what had happened. They needed to get here faster than they had before. It seemed like only moments the night had become full of lights, sirens and cries. Someone had called the boys family. They had arrived.

Beth’s Grandmother tried her best to get all of her grand kids to come back to ‘the porch’. She did not get that wish. The scene was something the children seemed they could not look away from, as hard as she tried to make them. Even when the ambulance picked up the boys lifeless body, placed it on the gurney, and covered him with the sheet, they could not look away. Beth’s mother had to keep the screaming girl from climbing on the gurney. The girl became more upset, as they passed her.

By that time, the girl’s parents came to the race. Beth wished they had been there earlier. Beth needed her mother with her.  She needed to ask her questions. Her Grandmother could not say anything except, ‘Let’s go back to ‘the porch’ child!’ She wanted to scream, “I can’t!”

Her daddy finally got up off his knees. Beth did not see how much blood he had on his hands until he stood up. She thought the boy was only hurt a little. She did not realize he was bleeding and her daddy was trying to stop all that blood. When she saw her Daddy’s face, he was pale as death. He was crying. Beth had never seen her daddy cry. He was searching the crowd for her mother. She looked up and caught his eye. She turned over the screaming girl to her parents and walked over to Beth’s dad, took him by the hand and led him out of the crowd. She walked him across the road, down to her Grandmother’s house, and through the side door. Beth started to go with them but her Grandmother put her hand on her shoulder, shaking her head saying, “No child. Stay with me!” She did not understand, but she knew not to argue. Her grandmother had that look on her face and that tone in her voice.

Beth looked for her Granddaddy. He was talking with the Policeman. He was telling them what he saw. She knew the Police would listen to him. Her Granddaddy was such a man of his word, that if he said it, you could believe it. He would never say a thing that was not pure truth.

It took about an hour for everyone to clear out and go home. People kept milling around, asking questions. Her Grandmother told the story, repeatedly. She finally said she was going back to ‘the porch’. Several people followed them.

That was the last time she saw a drag race from her vantage point. Those boys, so proud of their fast cars, never did pull up in front of Wilson’s store to drag race again.

She did not know the boy that died was a brother to one of the boys in the cars until Sunday at church. He and his brother were only visiting with his parents for the spring break.  He had met the girl two days prior. She was so upset, because she had dropped the flag that night. Beth’s mother knew the girl since she was born. That is why she went to her so fast. Beth’s Daddy never got over the fact that he held that boy in his arms, listening to his confession of faith, while he died. Beth said she heard her daddy cry over his death for years to come, but her Daddy was glad that boy had given his heart to Jesus.

Now, almost every time Beth hears tires squeal and she sees white smoke, she thinks of that spring evening. She thinks of the races from ‘the porch’. Beth never forgot the cry of the girl that lost the boy, or the cries of the parents that lost their son.

I am Beth’s best friend. I am the girl that lost the boy that night. I am the girl who dropped the flag. I am the one that saw the car crash into the boy. His brother was driving the car that night that killed him.

 

Beth and I grew up a year that night, from ‘the porch’.

“No Wearing Pants”

I went to the old churches with the hand held Funeral Home fans, where ladies with their hats and gloves were the norm. The men came in with their fedora hats, and everyone was dressed to the nine’s. The men, smelling of shoe polish and Aqua Velva. Proper ladies did not wear perfume to church. That would be unseemly.

There was NO WEARING PANTS for a woman at church in my youth. We didn’t even wear pants to Vacation Bible School in the summer.  You might think I am older than dirt. I was born in 1951.

I imagine there are several of you out there that feel just like I do. People today do not appreciate or have reverence for the house of the Lord. They come to CHURCH in clothes they would not wear to work. If a pair of ragged blue jeans is all one has to wear, that is one thing. God does not care what is on your back, but what is in your heart. However, if you don’t have anything to wear, someone would gladly buy you a pair of dress jeans to wear to church, if you had a need.

I have gone to church in pants. I had one church member tell me I was not welcomed in pants. I would never go back into that church for any reason. Nevertheless, I know the reason they told me was not with a clear heart. I now know it is not if you wear pants, because several ‘ladies’ I know wear pants to church, but they are not rags. They have respect for the house of God.

When I go into the Church, I go with the Spirit of Jesus already in my heart, and the singing and worship just stirs the Spirit within me. The Spirit helps me to know what I must do in the coming days, weeks and months.

I have found I cannot stay out of church. When I do, the devil comes in and throws all sorts of wrenches in my plans. When I make plans, and I don’t let that Spirit guide me, God just laughs out loud.

Dee Bradley

2/6/11