New Phrase and Novel Idea
1645: Made rounds.
1715: Checked doors - all secure.
1800: Made rounds.
1810: Heard noise.
But I do own a few dusty items that I don‘t mind dragging out from under the bed. The following two sketches of nostalgia were done several years ago, and only shown now for no more reason other than to exhibit.
A very old pickup truck came clattering across our new bridge, but its speed lessened as it neared the last of the wooden planks. The truck then rumbled to a stop in front of the barn and me. The driver wore a battered straw hat pulled down low over his forehead. His tanned features looked unfamiliar. He glanced down at the floorboard before he thought to look up and out at me, but when he did, he peered out from the shade of the hat’s wide brim and gave me a friendly smile. I stared back at this man in silence, waiting for him to speak first.
Then he raised one hand and waved to me in a most informal style. The truck idled roughly while I stood unmoving and silent. Next the man leaned his head through the opened window. There he pushed his hat to the back of his head and asked if my dad was around.
I stared at this stranger for a moment before shaking my head. Father was seldom home during the day anymore.
He touched the brim of his hat once with his left hand, and then he said, “Much obliged.”
I stood there keeping an eye on him as he eased the truck forward. I listened to sounds of gears changing as he slowly vanished out of sight around the bend in the dirt road. I watched the dust from his truck settle as I rolled his phrase over my tongue several times, pleased at its tone and yet puzzled by its meaning.
I had never heard those words spoken before, but I decided right then that I liked the phrase very much.
Much obliged. Much obliged. Much obliged!
Some local man had a grand idea. He converted an old school bus into a mobile market on wheels, painted it blue, and then drove the vehicle throughout the county, selling his wares. We named the dark blue bus the Rolling Store, and it’s weekly arrival always caused excitement around our place.
A long blast from a loud horn announced him and the bus coming down the hill. A minute later the Rolling Store and he stopped in the middle of the road right in front of the mill house. We eagerly held to one side, giggling as we waited to climb aboard. When the doors finally swung open, we rushed up two metal steps to investigate a fascinating array of almost any item that could be found in far-off Claxton.
The center isle ran the entire length of the bus. Two long rows of shelves stood floor-to-ceiling, set up on each side where bench seats had once been attached to the floor. All of the shelves were divided into scores of separate sections, and each section held different things.
A wooden barrel toward the back contained oak handled shovels, rakes, brooms and mops, while colorful bolts of cloth poked out from another. Several large glass pots near the driver’s seat were filled with an assortment of hard stick candies and colorful lollipops .
Canned goods, small jars of spices, various types of kitchen utensils, light bulbs, medicinal salves, plus countless other interesting gems filled every cubicle. We roamed up and down the aisle, poking our heads into everything.
Mother sometimes bought flour or sugar if she needed those, or she might purchase a new spool of thread or a card filled with buttons. But she never failed to buy us a case of soft drinks. There were twenty-four bottles in each wooden case, and she always picked out an assortment of strawberry, cherry and root beer colas, and occasionally, one or two blue coconut-flavored drinks.
Our favorite technique for drinking the sweet nectars was to punch a hole through the metal cap with an ice pick, and then sip it slow.