Sunday, June 17, 2012

I can still see him when I close my eyes...

My Dad was born in Louellen, Kentucky in 1924. Like a lot of other young Appalachian Mountain men he migrated North to Dayton, Ohio and went to work at GM's Frigidaire Plant. My Mom had a lot of problems and upped and left my Dad with five kids to take care of. This was an impossible task for him, so in 1956 my brother Don, sister Clara and myself were placed in the OS&SO Home, located in Xenia, Ohio. While in the "Home" we were allowed visits from relatives once a month and a vacation away from there once a year. 

Back then my Dad had a white-over-blue 1956 Ford that he'd pick us up with and we'd all drive down to Harlan, Kentucky for our vacation. This Ford was a three speed on the column and when I was old enough I'd get to drive it over the mountains to Keokee, Virginia, a place with 316 people, 128 households, and 88 families, much like it is today. 

One thing that Keokee had that Harlan didn't was alcohol. Beer, wine and all the spirits. My Dad would load the car up with bags of assorted booze and we'd head back over the mountains to Harlan to deliver "items" to friends and relatives. I drove and, pictured in my mind, I was Robert Mitchum in Thunder Road. After the deliveries were made my Dad would partake of a six pack or two and then, early in the morning, we'd sit on top of the mountain, out in that old 1956 Ford and try to find WSM, 650 AM Nashville, TN on the radio. Now radios in cars then had a weak back light and a needle on a thread that was wound back and forth by the radio's knobs. You would have to move the needle slowly and kind of creep up on the channel you wanted. 

I can still see him when I close my eyes; the odor of the beer, the smell of the cigarette he was smoking, the way he squinted through the cigarette smoke looking at the radio and turning the dial until WSM came in, as clear as this picture in my mind. 

This posting was contributed by Dave "67", a  member of my OSSO/OVCH family.

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