Turtle on a Fence Post
Reflections of my childhood...
As a child I really enjoyed going on drives with my dad in our new car. When it was just the two of us I got to sit in the front and watch him as he drove. As an inquisitive youngster I had to know the ‘what’s’, ‘whys’ and ‘how’s’ about everything on the dashboard. What was the gear shift under the steering wheel and what did it do? He was careful to explain everything so that a ‘prying’ little boy might understand. He told me that in earlier cars you had to shift the gears, or move this handle to change the gears under the car and I remember he just chuckled a little when I replied, “Ohhh” as if I fully understood, but I really didn't know what all that meant. There was even a radio that played music, I bet my sister, Peggy liked that and all the side windows rolled up and down, I remember my older brothers, Jim and Jack liked that. I recall I didn't much care though when the whole family rode together because that meant I always got the hump. You know the middle of the backseat with the hump in the floor. With my brothers on either side by the windows I had to straddle the hump, one leg on one side and the other leg on the other side. It was very uncomfortable I remember even for a little boy.
I was just 6 years old in 1949
When it was just me and dad though, we mainly talked as he drove. My dad was a very smart man, even though he never finished the third grade he told me once. I think he must have been self-taught. He was always asking me riddles and things like, if you ever run across a turtle on a fence post and there is no one around to ask - what is the one thing you can be certain of? Wow! What a riddle. Dad was full of them, like why did the chicken cross the road? Well, I guess everyone knows that one you say - to get to the other side - Ha, Ha. Get it? Well I didn't at first. Remember, I was just 6 years old in 1949. Besides, I bet you thought your dad was plenty smart, too.
Some times he would take me for ice cream
Sometimes he would take me for ice cream, but I had to promise to not tell my brothers or sister, because they would want to ride along too. Another riddle he told me was, what goes first on four legs, then on two legs and finally on three legs... Boy that was a hard one. I never was able to figure that one out, but he told me on the way back home on day after ice cream. I also liked it when we went to Mick or Mack on Saturdays; that was the name of the grocery store down town and dad knew both of the owners. He shook both their hands and even introduced me to them once, but I couldn't tell one from the other now. Oh yea, did you figure that last riddle out? The answer is man, as a baby you crawl on all fours, then you learn to walk and grow into manhood and finally, when you’re old, you need a cane to help you walk. 4 - 2 - 3.
Did you and your dad ever spend time together.
A dead possum in the middle of the road
One time my dad introduced me to the governor of Tennessee, Frank Clement and was standing right on the street talking politics. Dad said I'd learn all about that later. I remember my Dad ask the governor where he stood on some pretty important things and I heard the governor say he liked to straddle the white line in the middle of the road, and dad told him that was not always the safest place to be - in the middle of the road and if he didn't believe that, just ask a dead possum. Get it? A dead possum in the middle of the road wouldn’t be able to answer at all.
the one thing you can be sure of
I believe my dad must have known everybody in town. We couldn’t take a step or two before he'd say, there's Charlie, he runs a candy business and then they would shake hands and talk for a few minutes. Then he'd see someone else coming towards us that he knew and would start it all over again. Mom had said she refused to go to town with dad for that very reason. I told you he was smart and must have been to be able to talk to all those people. Oh, by the way, I never told you the answer to the first riddle did I? Remember the one about the turtle... "If you ever run across a turtle on a fence post and there is no one around to ask- what is the one thing you can be certain of?" Okay, did you figure it out by yourself? If not, I’ll just share it with you - "the one thing you can be sure of is - he didn't get there by himself..."
© 2010 SamSonS