Commute Nostalgia

“Yo’ mama drives a pulpwood truck!”

When I was a kid, I commuted with my mama from the county seat to a rural school.  The above insult was about the worst you could say to a rural kid.  Long, slow, pulpwood trucks carried logs from the forest to the papermill, and nobody liked getting behind one on those county roads.  You’d have to slow way down, and it was hard to get up enough speed to get around them before the double-yellow started up again.

I thought of those days when I was commuting one day this week, and got behind a log truck, this one carrying redwood.  They didn’t have redwood where I grew up.  We heard about how durable redwood was for decks and fences, but most folks used the native cedar because it was a whole lot cheaper. 

As I slowly followed the truck through the forested part of my commute, I daydreamed about those days. My reverie was broken, though, when the driver of the truck pulled off at a large turnout, letting the line of commuters pass.  He didn’t have to pull off the road, but he did.

As I passed, I wanted to toot my horn in thanks, but I thought it might be construed as an “About time!” instead of a “Thank you!”, so I only gave him a wave.  That brought back another memory, from about the same time in my childhood. 

My grandfather had a big, Buick back in the seventies.  It was a wide, smooth-riding car — two tone, with a cream-colored roof, a pretty bronze/brown body, and a black interior, if I remember right.  He had a Bermuda carriage bell installed in the floor over by his left foot.  When he stepped on the little pedal, a beautiful “Ding-a-dong” would sound out.  It was almost as loud as the car horn, and surprising the first time you heard it — just perfect for those “Hello there!” and “Thank you!” moments out on the road.   Nobody else I knew had one, and I just loved it.

Here I am, probably 30 years later, and I still want a carriage bell in my car.  I probably have a better chance of finding one these days, now that we have eBay.   Maybe one day I’ll find one. Or maybe one day I’ll find the sound for one on the net.  And then I’ll buy one of those customizable car horns, and I’ll be set.

Yup, maybe if I live long enough, technology will make all my childhood dreams come true.

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