Time for another of Linda Bethea’s humour filled and heartfelt posts about family life. This week the hazards of travelling on a flat bed truck…. You can find Linda’s other posts Here
Headed for Hell on a Flatbed by Linda Bethea
Grandma had a sweet deal living with her daughter, Cookie, son-in-law, Reilly, and little Barbie. What started as a mutually beneficial arrangement turned into a full-time housekeeping, cooking, and babysitting service. In return, Grandma and Grandpa got room and board. I never knew of Cookie to make a bed, run a load of wash, or cook a meal. She apparently felt Grandma lifted the homemaker role totally from her shoulders. She did continue the mother-role with Barbie when she was home, taking care that Barbie lived totally discipline-free. I so admired her methods and wished Mother had possessed her good attitude. That Barbie had it made! From time to time, Uncle Reilly got exasperated and spouted. ”Well, &$@8,& #5+=‘k, Barbara!” but never took action. Barbie never seemed to notice since he constantly sprinkled foul language through his normal conversation.
Should he appear about to become overwrought, Cookie reeled him in with a look and low, “Now, Reilly!” Shamed, he’d hush.
Cookie and Uncle Reilly were teachers and moved several times as they got better jobs. Naturally, my grandparents were along for the ride. One time, we arrived by train for our annual visit to find them hurriedly packing for a move to Houston, which Grandma considered a den of iniquity. She was not happy, knowing that we were all soon to be slaughtered in our beds. She primed Mother with the murders we could expect as she blew off steam.
I should probably preface this account by letting you know Cookie and Uncle Reilly were not overly concerned with convention, but that seems judgmental. After all, we were the folks hanging out with them. They were like 1950s hippies without the drugs, beads, or free love. For example, when Uncle Reilly out grew his jeans, he split the center back seam and spliced in a pie-shaped piece, then laced it with a shoestring. It wasn’t a classy look, but he said “I can’t throw out a perfectly good pair of jeans.” I kind of admired his work, but I was just a kid.
Uncle Reilly had gotten a great deal on a three-quarter ton flat bed Ford truck for the move. In preparation for the trip, Uncle Reilly had inflicted a few driving lessons on my terrified aunt since their 1938 Mercury also had to get to Houston. Even to my five-year-old eyes, this beat-up car was a clunker. Uncle Reilly took great pride in keeping his old automobile running with junk-yard parts and baling wire. He was cheap! Cookie’s driving skills were embryonic, so she didn’t complicate things by bothering to fail a driver’s test before embarking.. Since things worked out so well, she never bothered. Concerned about killing some of the family, she opted to drive solo. The other motorists were on their own.
This left four young children and four adults to ride in or on the truck. Uncle Reilly drove with my unhappy Grandma riding shotgun, juggling two toddlers in the front seat. This left Mother and my grandpa with me and my sister sitting on folded quilts on the flat bed against the cab. Uncle Reilly did thoughtfully stretch a rope across us as a nod to safety. We must have looked like refugees from Tobacco Road. I know Mother must have wished a hundred times we’d gotten on the train and gone back home, but our return was booked two weeks away. Not only that, she wouldn’t have wanted to explain the whole thing to Daddy. His family was a different kind of crazy, more of the raging hormone type.
It was past mid-day before we got off. Our progress was tedious since we had to keep Cookie in close range. She refused to drive faster than twenty miles an hour. If she seemed to be falling behind, Grandpa beat on the cab to slow Uncle Reilly down. This was probably a good deal anyway, since his brakes were going out. Every time Grandpa beat on the cab we heard a litany of curses. Of course, we bumped along on back roads for Cookie’s benefit. At first, Phyllis and I thought the ride was great fun, but as the dust fogged up and the day got hotter, it lost its charm. Periodically, we pulled off the road to rest Cookie’s nerves and let us stroll a bit, perhaps ducking into the trees to relieve ourselves. In the early afternoon, we stopped in a grove of trees for a picnic of fried chicken, boiled eggs, biscuits, tomatoes, and tea cakes. Grandma had brought a burlap-wrapped jar of iced-water, the most popular item on the menu.
After lunch, Uncle Reilly roped us back on the truck to finish the hundred-mile journey. Cookie was terrified of driving in the dark, so we picked up the pace as the day wore on. He drove faster and faster as she tried frantically to keep up. He probably hit forty-five a time or two. It was nearly dark before we pulled into their new place. While the women passed the food around and washed up wild kids, the men put mattresses down on the floor to make pallets for the night. Exhausted, the kids passed out.
We awoke the next morning in a new world.
Thank you Linda for entertaining us again…I think that beats any road trip of mine hands down… if you have experienced adventures on the road then do share them in the comments.
Now that I’m done with the bothersome business of workday world, I am free to pursue my passion, capturing the stories I’ve loved all my life. The ones you’ll read on my blog are good old Southern stories, a real pleasure to relay. Here in the South, we are proud of our wacky folks. I’ve preyed shamelessly on my family, living and dead, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, often changing the names to protect the innocent and not so innocent.
My mother illustrates my blog. I come from a rollicking family of nuts, hence the name of the blog Nutsrok Enjoy.
Linda has captured the essence of her family history in her book Everything Smells Just Like Poke Salad
Born to a struggling farm family in the deepest of The Great Depression, Kathleen enjoys a colorful childhood, enhanced by her imagination, love of life, and the encouragement of her family.
She’s determined to build a better life for herself, getting herself into hilarious situations all along the way. Distinguishing herself in school and the community, she never takes her eyes off her goal.
Just as she’s about to get started, she meets Bill, the man who is going to help her on her way. Everything changes. And then changes again. The true story of a remarkable woman who will inspire you, make you laugh, and see life from a new perspective.
One of the many excellent reviews for the book.
………...as you fall in love with Kathleen’s family.
Bethea’s style of writing as she recounts her mother’s memories has made her one of my favorite authors, and I couldn’t put this book down once I started it.
Kathleen (Kitten) takes us through her childhood growing up during the Great Depression by sharing her memories, and we find ourselves cheering for the little girl and her family while we get to know them. Vivid descriptions about unwanted house-guest’s habits are hilarious, while stories of sacrifices made by the family for each other brings tears to the reader’s eyes. We find ourselves cherishing the favorite stories Kitten hears from her Mama and Daddy while she snuggles next to them much as she did at the time of their telling. As Kathleen recounts the difficulties she faced as a young adult, we too want to return home to her parents’ warm home, full pantry, and open arms.
Read the reviews and BUY the book: https://www.amazon.com/Everything-Smells-Just-Like-Salad-ebook/dp/B01IVUXROQ
Also by Linda Bethea
About the book
WOMEN OF STRENGTH, FORTITUDE, AND BRAVERY
In this collection of six serials, Linda Swain Bethea weaves narratives of women through several centuries. The stories span from 1643 to 1957. Beginning in England in 1643, a young couple travels to Jamestown, Virginia, to begin a new life in the American frontier. The rest of the stories travel from West Texas to North Louisiana to the Texas Panhandle to East Texas.
Disease, death, starvation, and prison are faced with stoicism and common sense, and always, with a sense of humor.
The women in each tale stand tall and possess the wisdom and tenacity to hold families together under the worst conditions. Through it all, they persevere, and Linda Swain Bethea’s storytelling is a testament to the legacy they left.
Conversational and homey, you’ll fall in love with the women of Just Women Getting By – Leaving a Legacy of Strength, which celebrates the courage of those women who had no choice but to survive.
Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Just-Women-Getting-Leaving-Strength-ebook/dp/B072DZ5XTP
Connect to Linda
My thanks to Linda for sharing her story and she would love your feedback. Thanks Sally.