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Thursday, November 19, 2009


catfish grille

As of now, Jr's car has become mine. I was wanting to buy it, but everyone concerned agreed I was to take it for what I did for Jr, esp considering losing the truck not too long ago. I decided I'd take the money from insurance on the truck, which wasn't a great deal, but more than I could have got selling it, and use it to bring Jr's car up to speed. Made an appointment today with Chuck Billings for tuneup, tires, taillight. When that's done and its mpg goes up from 15 that it is now to in the 20s where ought to be, from there to get it painted. It has a couple of little dents and a spot of rust I'd like fixed. The paint on it is that clear-coat that was a disaster, made a lot of cars look really bad, like this one.

I've been thinking all day about Richard Woodie buying Jr's banjo. After he bought it, he raised its price considerably because it had been Jr Maxwell's banjo. Thought I'd do the car the same way. Value it because it was Jr Maxwell's car. Put my insurance money into bringing it up to where I'll have a nice car the rest of my life. Chuck told me these Century's of that era never die. They go on and on. The years of sitting looking out Jr's windows and off the porch at Hwy 18 I have seen so many of them from that period, the 90s, the roads are full of them. And they're not rusted. This one has 126k miles and doesn't burn oil. I'm looking forward to driving it after Chuck goes over it. I mentioned to Jr a couple years ago the car would benefit from a tuneup. It don't need no damn tuneup. That car runs good. You better believe it.

It does run good. It runs real good. And it can run better, much better. I feel its potential, which makes me want Chuck to work on it. I feel like it's performing at 2/3 of its potential. Then get some body work done on it. I want the hood ornament off, all words off. I want it trimmed down to the original design of the car, which is beautiful. And I esp like the one with the taillight all the way across the back, though it costs a couple of hundred to replace it after Jr backed into my truck's bumper. It disturbed him. He said it was the first time he'd ever done that, bumped into something backing up. He was also 86. That had a great deal to do with it.

I'm remembering the day I drove the van to Piney Creek to leave it at Alton Brooks's place to get some work done on the motor. Jr followed me and brought me back. Riding back with him from Piney Creek was an adventure. Just this side of Alton's is a series of 3 or so blind curves, one after the other. We went through each one of them all the way over in the other lane. It could have been bad. But the Lord was with us. Riding with him that day and other times is where I get my praying without ceasing done.

One day, possibly a couple years ago, he wanted to drive. He liked to ride around on back roads. We ended up on Bullhead Road on the dirt part under the Parkway. The edge of the road most often drops straight down in a very steep slope with a lot of trees. I'd look down at the trees and see the car bouncing from tree to tree like a pinball down the slope to the bottom. Neither one of us could have survived. Or both could have walked away. Anything could happen.

He cut the curves closer and closer to the outside edge, my side of the road, until in one curve he didn't turn. He was headed for the edge. I said, "Keep it in the road." He kept on going. I hollered, "Keep it in the road!" He jerked the steering wheel to the left and missed the edge by an inch. And went merrily on like angels were all around us keeping us in the road. Which they were. I got a tough-guy merit badge for riding down that road with Jr that day and saying nothing more than keep it in the road.

Another time we took off up Cheek Mountain Road, one of the beautiful unpaved roads that is left. He talked about work he did clearing a tremendous acreage, people who lived in the old abandoned house, people who owned the land. We went then down Doughton Mountain Road back to 18 down to Meadow Fork Road. He pointed to a place where a man whose name I forgot killed a man whose name I forgot. Another place where somebody killed a man with a knife. A place where a man's pickup slipped off the edge of the road, it started over on its side and a fencepost came in the window and killed him.

I enjoyed those rides, because he knew stories about every mile in every road. They were sometimes toe curling, always adventurous, and like I said, prayer without ceasing from beginning to end. He didn't drive fast enough for a wreck to be too damaging, unless he went off down a bank backwards. I didn't say anything about his driving. That one, keep it in the road, was it. He thought he was doing a great job. He kept it in the road. And I was glad he was thinking he was doing a great job. I didn't want to pop his bubble. Going out driving made him feel good that he was still able.

I've found the car's name. Catfish. It has that scoop for a mouth and a smooth grace in its overall design. The interior is like new. It's 16 years old with a new interior. The motor runs well. It's a well-made v-6 from the time Toyota and Honda were shaming American car makers into making engines that run a long time. I remember what Jr said to me about getting a new vehicle in a time when he could barely speak, "Take a fool's advice, don't be in a hurry."

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