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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ballad of the Hurricane Hunters

I was 20 when Clyde and I fled from Charleston to ride through the storm headed for Miami.  These few lines came from that trip. It may not make sense but it brought to my mind such strong memories that I wanted to share. I am happy to say that Clyde saved it those many years ago. I wrote it as fun and gave it to him. It's been 50 years. Unbelievable. I hope you enjoy. I did...

Ballad of the Hurricane Hunters

We'd often go drive, just to feel alive
That was my Unc and me
Goin' to a dive and slippin' 'em five
For a Pint—they were never free.

Back in the car aimed for afar
Me and my Uncle Clyde
We'd shoot for a star and open that jar,
A quart of corn inside.

That September morn when all were forlorn
A hurricane dead in our path
All would have sworn twas that bottle of corn
Pointed us into nature's wrath.

It was six hundred miles and many long trials
To reach that storm a ragin'
We set on our dial, listened to music awhile
And everyone was a wagin'

We wouldn't get back to the old home shack
In one piece, or even two,
The seal we did crack without looking back
Pouring us both a toot.

In Savannah town we began to frown
A cop pulled us over the side
The map I threw down to cover that brown
Bottle of Whiskey, I tried

He never saw but the set of his jaw
Showed us that he was not fooled
There was a flaw—the smell in our craw
We might as well have drooled.

But it was a trap for this lawman chap
A camera full on Clyde
The look on that sap, his face you could slap
We were on TV—LIVE!

We said our hello and were ready to go
When we got a little surprise
A cup of J.O.(that's O.J. I know)
And a word of sound advice.

With a smile on his face, he said have a taste
Of our O.J. there in your cup
Saying with grace, and little or no haste,
Be careful, or I'll pick you up.”

We took off quite slow, into third he did throw
The car as we did pick up speed
Waving to show we would not eat crow
From that cop, thank God, we were free.

On down the way we did stop to say
Get in,” to a hitch hikin' man
He offered to pay but we gave him O.J.
With a touch of corn from the can

He said, “What is this?” We said it was piss,
For we were loaded by now.
This I will miss.” We told him to kiss
And what he could eat for chow.

The sailor looked frightened, his face it had whitened,
A hundred miles back to the hour
Then it did brighten, a sandwich to bite in
A hoagy, with great lusty power.

The last line was a fetch, the imagination to stretch,
It gets sluggish after some time
And more, just a tetch, the lines we can catch
more words that're going to rhyme.

Back to the tale of a hoagy gone stale
in the hands of the sailor man.
Now I will not fail to end my portrayal
of the swabby, if ever I can.
He had to be a Chief with whom we'd no beef
But drunk he thought we were.
He thought that he'd see'f for Tampa we'd leave
the road we'd traveled so far.

Drunk as we were, we told him, “No sir!”
And stopped to let him out
You miserable cur, stick it in yer...”
Came the trailing end of his shout.

Who gives a damn about that sailor man
Clyde said to me with a laugh
Not a Tinker's damn nor a codfish ham
Said I, drinking my pint ahalf.

Further our flight into the darkening night
The car a'gainin' speed.
And, Oh what a sight! Lightning did strike!
And my uncle, by gosh, he pee'd!

An oak tree was struck! The force it did pluck
That plant right out of the ground!
A moment of luck did save this young buck
The right word it cannot be found.

We did stop and think how close to the brink
Both of our lives had been.
But nary'd we shrink from pouring a drink
And continue our life of sin.

Now, let us go back to the start of our track
And the reason this trip we're taking.
The hurricane flack promised excitement we lack
A leg to Miami we're shaking.

In an old Spanish town we stopped to look 'roun'
At 'leven or twelve at night.
My old girl had a frown, no longer the crown
Of glory I held in my sight.

I found out she was married, too long have we tarried
On the girl that I lost to a bum.
Having to be carried 'cause the drink I had shar-ed
Was overly filled with rum.

Oh, my life it could end, I hadn't a friend
To lay my sorrows on
No, she couldn't send a letter to end
A love I'd procured on the lawn.

To hell with this strife! She's somebody's wife!”
My uncle he was a sayin'.
You've the rest of your life to be thankful you're sife!”
My accent he was a trayin'.

Forgive me the rhyme but it's approaching the time
For me to hit the sack.
For the present time all the lines look fine
Except for the foreign track.

You'll have to think on if these rhymes seem wrong
Or even if they seem like bunk.
Just remember this song is sung all along
By me and my uncle who're drunk.

The hour is here! Did I hear a cheer?
A few more lines to pen
But now, I fear, I know not where
This rhyme to begin again.

St. Augustine is past, how it could last
I honestly do not know
Clyde, he was smashed, and my eyes were all glassed
But off in the car we did go.

My watch showed three, though it was blurred to me,
The road it flowed beneath.
And we did agree that we were both free
To live by the skin of our teeth.

The story 'tween here and Miami so dear
To the Yankees who come from the North
Is not very clear because of the beer
mellow memories waddling forth.

It was four in the morning, Miami's skies forming
Lighted patterns over the city.
The night was through storming and without any warning
The blip of a blue light—a pity.

Clyde was asleep and in dreams very deep.
The cop rapped on the glass.
This fuzz was a creep who asked to peep
At registration under the dash.

My unc came awake with a startling shake
And asked, “What the hell?”
While the officer spake, the nephew did quake.
Nervous? Yes, you could tell.

The policeman did state that our license plate
Was not a Florida tag.
How well I equate his intelligence great
As a torn piece of gasoline rag.

A person with sense or even a dense
Individual of Southern birth
Would not pull us hence, nor even dispense
Such words, a chuckle worth.

Registration he inspected not having detected
Several bottles on the floor.
Ownership respected, he stood and directed
We drive a little bit slower.

Second scrape with the law and still ne'er saw
All the liquor we had in the car.
Our nerves were all raw so up we did draw
To a motel's open front door.

We slept for an hour, then took a shower
As the sun was breaking the dawn
While others did cower at the hurricane's power
We smiled and then we were gone.

Radio turned on, I searched for a song
To help us on our way
The announcer at dawn said the hurricane was gone
To Charleston, as it may.

Well, son of a bitch!” We near ran in a ditch
As both of us did swear.
Ain't that a switch? We'd have to be rich
To chase the hurricane rare.

So, I cracked a seal as Clyde turned the wheel
Heading back for our town.
The rubber did peel and tires did squeal
As the car came hurtling 'round.

Listening to the radio we never went slow
The ride was faster now.
The blue sky did show as our hopes did go
To be in the hurricane's howl

No exciting event did follow the extent
Of our journey to the Holy City.
We were just bent on finding a hint
Of high powered winds so pretty.

The radio was blaring as we were now nearing
The city limits of our fair town.
Disgustedly hearing the news that was searing
our ears as we were shot down.

Our hurricane had turned—we listened and burned
And both let out a “DAMN!”
It was then that we learned, by our hurricane spurned,
It was heading again for Miam'!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Things from fifty years past come from those days we wish would last...

My cousin just showed me a poem I wrote 50 years ago about the trip Clyde and I took chasing the hurricane in Florida.  I'm excited about reading it since I thought it had been lost to the years.
Fifty years and five pages long. I will copy it here as Clyde's and my song....

Friday, April 1, 2016

Party girl! Like it's 1950

Clyde kicked the car into second as I took a pot shot at a cow in the field.
What are you doing?” he yelled. “Put that gun down! You want some farmer barreling out on to the highway with his shotgun out the widow aimed at us? Jeez, Rick. Sometimes you are really stupid.”
I wasn't aiming at the cow. Besides, I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn,” I said as I put the pistol into the glove compartment.
Where are we going?”
Goin' to see an old girlfriend.”
Good grief! Not again. Don't your remember the last time? I nearly tore your car up trying to get us out of the driveway, bobbing up and down. Let's go somewhere else. There's plenty of daylight left.”
Nope. Promised her I'd be there about two and it's almost that now. We won't stay long. Why don't you just mix yourself another drink and enjoy the ride.”
Won't let me shoot a cow. How'm I supposed to enjoy myself? You know every time we go out like this I end up sitting here in the car while you go inside and, uh… what do you do in there? Come to think of it I've never been inside when you drag me along.”
Quit your poutin'. You got plenty of booze there and time with nothin' goin' on in your life. What else you got to do?”
I don't know but I could sure think of something.”
I started to stare out the window at the passing country side. We traveled another twenty minutes and arrived in Elloree, SC. A booming metropolis. L or E, I thought. Some illiterate who didn't know his letters musta named it.
I pulled the bottle from under the seat and poured a stout measure into my cup. A dash of coke and I was ready to wash out the dust of the dirt road we'd bounced onto when he hit a huge bump and my head hit the ceiling. The cup at my mouth jerked upward dousing me with bourbon and a touch o' coke—in those days coke was a cocola as we'ens said in the south, or Coca Cola for those of letters. Whatever it was called it was dripping into my ears and eyes and completely soaking my shirt and pants. The sound filtering through the lake of bourbon and coke in my ears was the laughter of my dear uncle as he hit the break, slid to the side of the road into a fence and collapsed in a fit of hysteria.
That's the funniest thing I've seen in a long time,” he said as he took control of himself and eased the car backward from the fence. He dropped it into first and pulled forward.
That's why I take you along. You make me laugh.”
Only because I'm an idiot.”
Well, yeah, there's that, too. OK. I see her house over there. Now you look relaxed,” he said, laughing again.
She came to the porch and waved.
Hey, sugah! Hey, Rickey!”
Hey,” I said in my most relaxed tone.
She walked over to the car and leaned on the driver's side. Her eyes went wide when she saw my khakis soaked from belt to mid thigh. The smile crept over her face quickly.
Well, what have you done,” She sniggered. “Clyde didn't you stop at a filling station so that nephew of yours could use the public facilities.”
Fraid not, babe. He never said a word til it was too late and I hit a bump a ways back from here. He just couldn't hold it after that.”
His laughter filled the air. She joined in, slapping the car door.
Indignation swelled in my like a red river.
It's bourbon and coke, dammit! I never peed my pants in my life. This jackass of an uncle hit that bump on purpose just as I filled my cup and was fixin' to drink a slug. He jammed the gas and hit it hard. And here I sit in a puddle. I oughta pee all over his seat.”
She stopped laughing for a minute and said, “Why don't you go inside and get outta those wet things? You could probably find something in the closet to slip into while your clothes are in the washer. . Go on now, go on in and take 'em off and throw 'em in the tub. I'll be in d'rectly to get the washer goin'.”
Oh, all right,” I said and got out. As I headed for the front door she shouted to me.
Go on!”
There was giggling as the screen door slammed to. I found the washer and stripped. The only think I could find in the closet was a red bathrobe. A tad small but in this case it would have to do. I was looking for something to read when I heard them come in.
Now, Sugah, you go on in there while I take care of this young'ns clothes.”
She stopped short, looking at me.
Oooie! Aint't you pretty now? Where'd you find that? I been looking for that for some time.”
She headed toward the washroom. I followed her. She took the soap box from the shelf then tilted it over the open washer. She dropped the lid and turned the switch.
There. That shouldn't take too long. Why don't you go out and sit in the car while Clyde and I talk over old times? I'll call you when your clothes are ready.”
I am not going out of this house dressed like this. This ain't no way for a guy to be wandering around out doors. Nope, I ain't gonna.”
Now honey,” her voice taking a harder timber, “you just head on out there. Not a soul is gonna see you like that. Everybody's at their jobs. Ain't nobody around. You'll be fine. Take this book and go get in that car. I'll let you know when your clothes are dry.”
She snatched a book off the shelf and tossed it at me then patted my behind into the general direction of the car. I grudgingly opened the door and peaked out. It did look deserted. I sprinted to the car, bathrobe flapping in the breeze.
I jumped into the front seat pulling the door shut behind me. I pulled the flimsy bathrobe around me folding the open front over my legs. Settling down, I held the book in front of me. It was a paperback. The title was PARTY GIRL.
What the…
The cover illustration presented a scantily clad young blonde staring out at me. There was a man behind her looking over his shoulder. Articles of clothing draped over a chair that which separated her from the man. There was a bed to the right and next to the man. Hmm…
I'd been reading in a fevered rush for about twenty minutes and was halfway through the book.
The girl on the cover was one of those girls. The ones the guys talked about. She was a high priced girl of the night who only went to the high bidders. It was like nothing I had read before. I was breathing heavy when I got to the part where she was on a yacht.
She was staring down into the water where the man of wealth was bobbing in the wavelets. He was beckoning her to join him. She slipped out of the tightly fitting dress. It dropped to her feet. She popped the clasp of her bra, or brassiere as it was called in the '50's, and it dropped to the deck. She slowly removed her panties allowing the sea air to flow over her naked body. She looked at him again. He watched her edge to the opening of the of the guard rail. The moon light washed over her perfect form. He licked his lips as she leaped into the air and arced smartly into the water in front of him. Her body gracefully slid into the ocean with a small splash.
He watched for her return to the surface. He became agitated when she did not rise from the waves. He called out and began to swim toward her entry into the water. She stopped him with a quiet throaty laugh. As he turned, she moved toward him. Her firm slippery body pressed against his. His smile grew as her face came closer to his. She reflected that smile. Her large firm breasts spread across his as their mouths lingered in a long searching kiss. She encircled him as they joined together in the cool gentle roll of the sea. Their bodies rose with the waves and dipped when they passed. They rode with an easy bouyancy the loving touch of the lapping waves. Their own bodies began a rhythmic undulation of their own. The throaty moans of the party girl came heavier with each thrust…
The book was yanked from my hand. I became aware of laughter on both sides of the car. Clyde and his woman were howling with fits of laughter.
Good gracious! What is that stickin' out of my bathrobe?” She screamed in a fit of glee.
Whoa, honey! What's that book I gave you?”
She looked at the cover.
You're too young to be readin' that,” she said holding the book up in the air.
Maybe not,” said Clyde. He was holding his side.
I covered myself.
Get into the house before the neighbors see that. Especially Ms Fine. She'd have you over for a weiner roast in a skinny minute. Go on! Get into the house. Your clothes are dry now.”
Can I borrow that book?” I asked wrapping the bathrobe around me as best I could. “I'll get Clyde to bring it back. Honest.”
No. I don't think so. Your momma'd beat you good if she found this.” She tossed it on a high shelf as she entered the house. We walked into the washroom.
She pulled my clothes from the dryer and handed them to me.
Now you go put these on and think about your evil ways. You're too young to be drinkin' like that uncle of yours. He ain't gonna come to no good and you'll end up the same way if you continue down that same road. You listen to me, now!”
She patted me on the rump again aiming me in the direction of a small bedroom.
She stayed in the kitchen while I changed into my clothes. Pulling my pants up I began to think about the girl who had jumped into the water and I couldn't zip my pants up. Clyde whistled outside meaning, “ Get a move on.” I managed to get myself together. I walked past the kitchen. She was outside with Clyde. I eyed the book on the shelf near the door. I made a jump for it. My hand made contact. Quickly I pocketed it and walked outside letting the screen slam.
I'm ready,” I said. “Thanks for washing my clothes.”
Happy to do it,” she said. She gave Clyde a peck on the cheek as he opened the car door.
You boys be careful going back,” she said hugging herself.
I waved as we backed out the drive.
Bye, now,” I yelled.

She yelled back at me,” Bye! And you enjoy that book, now, you hear?”