…. The work to continue the widening of US Highway 411 between Madisonville and Englewood is moving at great pace…. Each time that I drive it, it seems that the road has been diverted once again – around a cemetery, over another small stream, or through another flattened hilltop….

Progress, I suppose, but still it is a bit sad….at least to me, it is…..

…. When I was very young, I lived in a tiny house alongside that road…. a wooden-framed clapboard built on the side of a hill that sloped away from the road and bordered in the back by a small wet-weather run…..

I’ve written about it a few times here on these pages… whether remembering holding icicles when I was a child that were nearly as long as I was tall… or of imagining the long-buried piles of Playboy magazines that I stowed away in the half-basement when I was five…. I still even remember the telephone number for the house, burned into my noggin when I was sent off to kindergarten in Madisonville….. 442-4488… after all these years, I still remember…. How odd…. I guess a 5 year old memory is an impressionable place……

… I passed by that house this morning on my way up to Maryville to raid one of their liquor stores……

…. The tiny lawn is overgrown and the mailbox is hanging from its pole…. A mood of genuine abandon could never be more fully realized than that of the poor visage which that small house exuded…. the houses on either side retain clipped lawns and hanging baskets on their front porches….. but that little blue house (it was white when I lived there) is practically falling down from disuse, misuse, forgetfulness, and neglect…

… I thought considerably about buying it as I kept up my drive north today…. but really, that would be pure foolishness…… who’d want to ever live that close to a raging 4-lane highway?..... not me, that’s for sure…. But still, it seems such a tragedy to see a part of my past so disregarded…..

… it wasn’t even that great of a house to begin with, I guess….. bare and coarsely built… no central heating or cooling…. And my Dad did most of the plumbing on the spare weekends when he was home…..

… I remember one winter night when I was five years old…. He’d been working in Bristol, Virginia all week and arrived home by the kind courtesy of a ‘65 Impala with bald tires & 100lbs of log chain in the trunk about 10pm….. it was nearing Christmastime, so I’d been allowed to stay up and await his return…..

… at 8pm that day, our pipes had frozen and we were without water or the money to call on a plumber, and so we waited for my Father to appear… tired, dirty, and happy to see us, he burst in the front door… only to hear of the bad news….

… he did not hesitate in his task, and immediately went to work (after insisting that I be bundled in heavy clothes so that I could brave the weather and ‘hold the flashlight’)….

…. He was cutting a 1” piece of PVC when his knife slipped and buried itself into the hand that was holding the frozen pipe….. I was shocked, but kept holding the flashlight as the cold wind blew…. I still remember that like it was yesterday…. how I followed him to the kitchen sink and turned on the hot water for him as he withdrew the knife that had impaled three of his fingers…… cold, white fingers and bright red blood….. no cussing or oaths, just the running of the water and the sound of my Mother fumbling for the hydrogen peroxide in the bathroom behind us….

… we ended up going to bed after that…. and on Saturday morning we patched the line together just as the night’s storm released our water as the Sun came up….

…. I thought of all those memories today as I saw that flea-bitten old house…

…. In all honesty, I doubt that it’ll stand much longer…. Be it because it is so old, or simply because it really was never that well-built to begin with… or because it is now so close to the encroachment of progress….. but either way, I would suspect that its days are numbered….

…. good God, what a day….. nothing lasts forever, it is true…

by Eric on August 07, 2007 | Bullshit (12) | TrackBack (0) | Thinking
Bullshit So Far

Your dad, rest his soul, must have had the HUGEST threshold for pain, because incurring an injury like that would have sent my ass scrambling to the nearest hospy.

I think some stuff lasts forever. The stuff that really counts, and even though houses where we grew up and things like that seem really important to us, maybe there's even bigger stuff, that's more important.

I hope so, at least. Because otherwise, I will be really pissed about all the time I wasted pondering the meaning of life, only to learn on the other side that it was just a bunch of random hot air, with no purpose.

Bullshitted by Erica on August 7, 2007 08:24 PM

... thank you, Erica... and yes, I hope that you are right as well.... I do hope that some things last forever...

Bullshitted by Eric on August 7, 2007 08:30 PM

Vintage SWG, right here.

Your ol' Dad must have been a tough old cove...

Bullshitted by Elisson on August 7, 2007 10:07 PM

Dayum! You do come from a tough stock for sure!

It is amazing what we can remember. I found my beloved grandparents house on Chelsa st. in Detroit with no problem about 10 years ago.
Now you can't pay me enough to go find it.

Bullshitted by Maeve on August 8, 2007 01:04 AM

Excellent post. Lots of things going on in there. It is hard for us to totally separate ourselves from places and things in our past. But somehow, we must. Clearing out parents accumulations of a lifetime brings that home quickly. You hate to pitch things out, but would have to put an addition on the house to keep it all. No, don't even think of buying the old house...

Bullshitted by Winston on August 8, 2007 06:07 AM

Jeez what a day, what a man,reminds me why I don't have kids. Was helping my father repair the kitchen sink, had grey-black goo all over our hands, and he reached up and turned on the tap to wash. I watched in silence as the water poured out from the disconnected p-trap. If I said anything he would have jap-slapped me through the wall. A good father you had there.

Bullshitted by Bindersix on August 8, 2007 07:58 AM

Great story, I am very glad to see other people just as poor as my own family.

Bullshitted by Catfish on August 8, 2007 12:51 PM

What Elisson said. I love the stories about your Dad.

Bullshitted by Bou on August 8, 2007 03:15 PM

I have often wondered why we can remember those phone numbers, when we were young. I still remember mine: WY-down 4-7346.

Bullshitted by LeeAnn on August 8, 2007 03:56 PM

"...I am very glad to see other people just as poor as my own family..."

Ah, but there is, blessedly, a difference between say YOU & ME, and those hopping over muddy streams of choleric what-can-no-longer-be-considered-water with hordes of flies buzzing around their bulging rheumy eyes in Christian Children's fund commercials. I, for one, wouldn't mind a fatter billfold, but I sure as heck wouldn't want flat-out poverty either.

Old phone number, btw: (718) Sheepshead 4-2510. Damn, I miss that.

Bullshitted by Erica on August 8, 2007 07:06 PM

I know what you mean about old houses. My grandparents' place was built by my great-grandfather in the 20's but since Grandpa died, my uncle & G'ma are considering selling the farm. I would love for the next generation to have access to it, but if that doesn't happen, we'll get by.

G'pa was a toughie, too. He was baling hay one time, cut off a finger (it was hanging by a piece of skin) & finished up that row before hollering to Dad that he needed to go to the doc. They did manage to save the finger.

Bullshitted by LadyGunn on August 9, 2007 02:40 AM

Late but...

We live in my dh's great-great grandparents house.


Bullshitted by farmwifetwo on August 11, 2007 07:34 PM