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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'!

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