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Southern Raisin': Remembering an old ride

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Quite a few decades ago, James Roberts, one of my dearest friends and a great American, bought a 1948 Chevrolet station wagon for only $125.  

He lived on Navy Road with his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Rhodes, near Liberty Cash grocery.  James had gone through the eighth grade at Bolton, but his family moved to Memphis and he wanted to continue school with his growing up friends.  Until James could get his driver’s permit, he rode a bicycle six miles to and fro each day to catch a 48-seater yellow hog at the intersection of Peek and Bell’s grocery and Horne’s store, in eyesight of Mr. Jack James’ big brick home.

Neighbor, this beauty, to James and the entire congregation, came right off Hull-Dobbs’ showroom floor (actually out of a cow pasture.).  Someone was bush hogging and ran over it.  Remember the famous incarcerated body of wood and the wonderful vacuum shift?  Now ain’t that a smooth combination?  

One motor, six out of eight cylinders hammered, 75 percent, not bad, considering.  Four racing slicks and Monkey patched tubes back then that held air a majority of the time. Great!  

One windshield had a small crack on the passenger’s side about the size of a gallon bucket. Fifty percent ain’t half  bad.  Passengers don’t drive anyway, but serve as co-pilots.

Emerson provided assistance spying out the front window while Arvis held down the back seat on the right side, hopefully warning the driver of flattening a mailbox or cleaning out a ditch.  

So, the passenger’s side is not really important.  All four doors were initially intact, but loosened up later.  One slightly used muffler, with a small (Texas-sized) hole in it, crooning a smooth city glass-pack sound.  No tail pipe as we didn’t need one in the country.

Friends, the first problem that occurred was the driver’s rusty, frozen door hinges wallowed out and would hang up all the time.  This assembly had to show how northerners didn’t know how to even make a door fit.  Don’t they even know up above the Mason-Dixon line every redneck has sledgehammers for inconveniences.  

So Rosemark cotton field high tech skills evolved and James simply removed the door with only two good yanks.  This provided a just right, foot-rest on the rusty bottom hinge.  No more trouble boarding or quickly exiting, additionally providing modern air conditioning.  

The glasses in the other three doors wouldn’t roll up or down, so Wayne and Don, with Lynn’s help, just removed them before someone got excited, broke them or got hurt.  The back window wasn’t necessary as we were pretty smart on safety.  We ended up tying the doors shut with baling wire.  Tommy and Big Paul used a crowbar ’til the doors fit perfectly and twisted the baling wire inside so the big knot wouldn’t show as we slowly cruised by.  

We sho’ didn’t want the doors to fly open creating an unexpected accident and it was easier to crawl through the aforementioned glassless windows anyway.  

Ain’t it amazing what rednecks can do with machinery?...Glory!

Otis Griffin is the author of the book “Southern Raisin.” He was born in  Charleston, Tenn., and attended Rosemark Grammar School and Bolton High School.

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