Galen Holley

Published on December 8th, 2016 | by Galen Holley

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Running the Roads with Dad

The ’75 Chevy pickup didn’t have a tape deck, so we bought a battery-powered radio at Walmart and rode around all day with it sitting on the seat between us.

The Carpenters’ greatest hits made a fine soundtrack for a day of running the roads and taking our time being father and sons.

My father sang “We’ve only just begun,” grinning through tobacco-stained teeth, his work shirt unbuttoned and flapping in the hot air.

He was young and lean, his arms and neck tan from the welding flash. There was a scrim of grease around his fingernails, and his hands were strong and rough as leather on the steering wheel.

My brother slid off his flip-flops, rested his bare feet on the warm hump in the floorboard made by the transmission.

Boys always buy two Yoo-hoos. Slam the first, savor the second. Paired with a gas station pulled pork sandwich and a bag of Bugles it’s the perfect road meal.

It’s a known fact – there’s more road in Pontotoc County than any place else on earth. Endless highways, some just hog trails, winding through miles of “there-used-to-sets” and “right yonders.”

Dad couldn’t pass the old Randolph school house without stopping a minute.

Karen Carpenter sang “It’s yesterday once more” in that warm, velvety voice, that voice like no other human being ever had in this world.

We stopped at a pawn shop, clattered around in the junk for half an hour. My brother and I begged for hunting knives but settled for two walkie-talkies the size of toasters with retractable aluminum antennas.

It was a wonder of technology to hear Kyle’s voice clear from the other side of the parking lot.

We stopped every few miles for a couple dollars’ gas, or a popsicle, or to use the walkie-talkies again. We bought one of those two-piece wooden airplanes with the rubber band-driven propeller. We waded knee high in Trace Lake.

Last week my father and I worked on a tractor. He still likes thin, long-sleeved work shirts, half unbuttoned, but that dark hair, what’s left, has gone gray, and he makes CDs for himself on his computer.

He still sings out loud, and once in a while, hunched over a carburetor, he’ll murmur, “We’ve only just begun,” clinching a pipe in his teeth.

I haven’t run the roads with dad in a long time, but if I live to be 100 I’ll never feel completely secure without him driving. It’s hard to overstate a boy’s wonder and trust that daddy can fix anything.

My father and I both know there are probably more of those special days behind us than in front of us, but we don’t talk about it.

That kind of talk will ruin a perfectly good day. The Local Voice Ligature

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