Monday, August 24, 2009

Missouri and home.

Ok, so I drove north from West Memphis on I-55, with a new excitement in my mind. I was on my way to Jackson Missouri, to finally meet my buddy Bruno (not his real name) and his lovely wife. I called them to tell them I was on my way as soon as I left Paul and Judy at the Cracker Barrel and told them that I'd call again when I got close.

The drive was expected to take me at least two and a half hours, but it seemed like I got there in no time at all. I tell ya, I'm a drivin' fool. The cigar smoke was waftin' and the tunes were thumpin', just like always. I guess I shift into autopilot, just groovin' and checkin' out the scenery.

When I got there I took exit 99, drove northwest into town and made the call. I think Bruno was really surprised that I'd made it so fast. We agreed that, in stead of trying to follow his verbal instructions, I'd just stop at a little gas station/stop-n-rob down the way and they'd drive out to get me.

I parked, went in for a pit stop and to get a drink, and was chillin' there for just a short while when their SUV eased up and I recognized that grin and those glasses. There ain't nobody that looks like this boy.

I got behind them and followed them to the farm, which turned out to be an easy drive just up the road a bit. When I got there all I could think was how much the place looked like my grandparent's old farm house in Heidenheimer, just southeast of Temple.

Assuming you've clicked on the site link, that railroad track shot was taken on the crossing that's about 100 yards from where my grandparents farm house used to stand. And the bank was a general store in my childhood, where I used to go and chat with the old man who ran the place. All golden memories.

That old house was the only thing I knew as home while I was growing up in the Air Force and being shoved from one place to another. The smells of pairs from the tree just outside the back door, my grandmother burning the trash in a 50 gallon drum, and the smell of my grandfathers chewing tobacco, all stream through my mind as I look at this picture.

Dammit if I'm not gonna burst into tears just writin' about it. I miss those folks, and that place. It's all gone now, having fallen apart and been bulldozed many years after my grandparents died and my mother and her sisters sold the place. But it'll always stand there in my mind.

That's all I could think of as I drove up under those tall trees and parked in the shade by Bruno's place. I got out and looked around and told him that the place was really nice. But he just gave me a look, like he didn't believe me or thought I was just bein' polite. Shit man, if I didn't have Denise with me now I'd go out to San Saba and buy myself something that looked just like it and be happy as a hog in shit. Seriously!

Now, as you've read before before, I'd have to make a few changes. I'd have to build on a cool porch. Porch time is critical! And I'd have to spread some sort of tick and/or chigger killin' shit around, because those things are a huge friggin' pain in the ass, and I think you've been raisin' 'em there for some time, my brutha. Having said all that, the time I spent out there was wonderful, sittin' in the cool shade, gettin' to know my friends a little better. I wouldn't have changed a thing.

Here's a shot of their dog. The name escapes me (Bruno, you'll have to fill in some details in the comments).

This pooch belongs to Bruno's neighbor, a farmer who lives down to road. It's one of those dogs he's always talked about that spends most of it's time with them (one of the ones that's left), but then goes home when the owner drives by in the evening. In fact, I got a taste of that while I was there. A red truck drove by as we were sitting there and this little dude took off like a rocket.

Then the owner came back and turned into Bruno's drive and we all sat there talkin' for a bit. Sure enough, the dog came back. But as soon as this guy drove off, the dog shot off again too.

At some point I decided to pull the same surprise on Bruno that I'd pulled on Paul. The helmet and AR-15 came out of the trunk and there was laughter all around as Bruno struck the pose.

That is, he tried to strike the old pose, with the rifle on his hip, as the memories were probably flashing through his mind. I loved it. As with Paul, I was hopin' we might get to bust a few caps in the yard, but there's too many folks livin' around their farm these days. As Bruno says, there's too much humanity these days, crowding out the country, for their liking. There's no direction to shoot where they don't have to worry about maybe hittin' some squatter. So the gun went back into the case, the clip into the bag and the case into the trunk. But there'll be another time.

After talkin' and gettin' to know one another for a while, Bruno eased himself into the passenger seat of my car and we drove out to his friends (the Doctor's) little museum. I'm tellin' ya, I've NEVER seen anything that big in my car with me before. It was WEIRD, like walkin' up next to someone in a store line that's taller than I am. That kinda thing just doesn't happen every day, you know?

I drove us back to town and up to the doctors office where Bruno's buddy keeps his gear. If you've been reading his blog like the rest of us, then you've seen some of this stuff before. The man's apparently got a shit load of money to play with.

This is some sort of naval gun from the 1800s. The dude's got a few of them.

And this, according to a good friend of mine who knows these things, is a Union Army cannon from the Civil War.

It's cool as hell, but I think the guy needs to put the thing indoors if he's gonna spend this kind of money on a relic. If that wooden gun carriage is the real thing and not a reproduction, then it's REALLY a shame that it's been left outside to slowly deteriorate. Not to mention the rust on the metal.

Of all the tanks and APCs, my favorite piece in the collection was easily the Paladin, M109 self propelled howitzer.

These things kick ass! I see them here on Ft. Hood from time to time, and can even hear them firing their guns out in the field north of town. The newest version, the M109A6, the one we see around here, looks very similar to this one. I loves it!

Once we ran through the displays and I got some great shots, we headed back to Bruno's place to relax back in the yard with some cigars and some diet soda. At some point there I took my phone out of my pocket and dialed Paul's number. I told him I would when I got to Bruno's place. He answered, but I was amazed to find them still on the road back to Harriman. I was sure they'd be home by then. I handed the phone to Bruno and the two spoke for a time.

Eventually I got a chance to walk around and get a few shots of their house. Bruno says it's an old school house, about 100 years old. As we walked around he showed me some of the leftover evidence of the history of the place. These beautiful flowers caught my eye really quick.

There were a few more out by the USGS marker that sits in his yard. He says you can dial up his place in your GPS and the numbers on this dial will take you right to his driveway. Of course, you might get shot doin' somethin' like that, so don't try it. Word of advice... Call first. Fair warning.

I was amazed at the size of this tree, which stands in front of a thicket in his back yard, just on the other side of his shed. This picture doesn't really do it justice. It's friggin' HUGE. It looks like you could turn it into one hell of a tree house, or deer blind.

Of course, there's a lot of gear strewn about by the shed, including this old tractor. You know Bruno and his tractors. I'd bet if it could talk (it and the rest of the stuff in the yard), it could tell us some interesting stories. That shed remains a mystery too. Next time I come we'll have to spend some time in there. It could just be that Shed Time might just be ol' Bruno's version of Paul's Porch Time.

By then I was really starting to feel torn. I was getting more and more anxious to get on the road, knowing I had a long drive ahead of me. But I just didn't want to go. It'd taken me too long to get to Missouri. I'd been wanting to come and visit my buddy for a long time. It seemed a shame to go so soon after finally arriving. But I had to go, so I used the flat top of the tractor as a base and took a parting shot of everyone.

I love the way this one turned out. After taking a few pictures I made my apologies and told them it was time for me to head out. There was a strange emotion in me then. I felt like there was something unsaid. Everything had just gone by so fast. I told them I'd come back some time and we'd spend more time in the yard. We'd smoke a few more cigars and maybe drink some beers. I got back into the car and waved as I rolled out.

I wish like hell now that I'd been quicker on the draw. About an hour later, as I was driving back south on I-55, I thought that I should have taken them out to eat. We could have gone back into town and spent a few more hours there. But I just didn't think of it in time. I was thinking about the long drive home. Denise was waiting on me, and I was too worried about how long I'd be able to drive before needing to stop and sleep.

As it turned out, of course, I drove straight through. I got back to West Memphis and I-40 by about 8PM (left Bruno's at about 5:30), Little Rock and I-30 by 10:30, and Texarkana by about midnight. I called Denise a few times along the way, reassuring her that I was fine and that I'd stop if I got tired. But the adrenaline was pumpin, the cigar smoke was waftin' through the crack in the sunroof, and the tunes were blarin as I rolled along. I stopped once in Mt Vernon, Texas for a 6" Subway sandwich, to drain the lizard and gas up.

By 3AM I was driving into Dallas, above, and heading south on I-35. By 5:30 Saturday morning I was slippin' into the house, out of my clothes and into bed. I found Denise asleep with one light on. Apparently she doesn't like to sleep in the dark while I'm gone. I slid into bed and woke her up with a few gentle kisses. She rolled over into my arms and the rest is all a blurr.

I do remember laying there, stretching, thinking that it must have only been a few minutes ago that I'd been in Dallas, and maybe ten minutes ago that I'd been in Memphis. Time simply had no meaning as I lay there. The whole week had gone by too fast. I wanted it all back in that moment. I wanted to roll the tape back and do it all again. There was a sadness then, in remembering and thinking how long it will be before we all get to do it again. But then the tiredness finally hit me. I rolled over and the lights went out. Next thing I remember Denise is waking me up Saturday afternoon at about 1:30, tellin' me that breakfast was ready. Bacon and eggs, and cornbread biscuts! Mmmm, it's good to be home.

Later that day we sat out on my porch and surveyed the situation. The weeds hadn't grown too tall in two weeks. of course, that's the only good thing about a drought.

Sitting there, thinking about the dry Texas heat and how cool and wet the weather had been in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri, I looked up to check the temperatures on my thermostat. When I looked up, I saw we had a visitor.

What a pretty surprise, and what a way to bring the story to an end.

But then, there's really no end to the story. Hell, I've still got pictures from the Air Force Museum that I haven't touched, and there'll be other road trips in the future. I get a warm feeling in my heart from that. There's a sweet comfort that comes from good friends, and the knowledge that they'll always be there. We've got lots of good times to come. Stay tuned, and maybe you'll get to come along for the ride.

So, here's a big hug to all of Denise's family! To her daughters and son-in-law, for the good time we had in Kentucky. To my big brother Paul and his lovely wife Judy, and all of their family, for the great time they always show me in Tennessee. Here's to Chuck, for the Body Shot, and the drinks that wouldn't stop, and for bein' such a great buddy. Y'all need to come down to Austin and we'll do it again. And to my little/big brother Bruno and his lovely wife. Next time brother, we'll spend more time together. Do somethin' about them damn chiggers though. Shit! Cheers!

PS: I looked up as I finished this post and it was 5:10, making me late to get back to the prison. So I had to wrap it up and go. On the way to work I realized I'd neglected to include Pat and his wife in the list of folks I was thanking for joining us in having a wonderful trip. Sorry buddy. It was great to see you again and to meet your wonderful wife. I hope we get to do it again, maybe on Paul's porch. Cheers again!


Mushy said...

I'm sad it's all over too...a great summer visit.

I'm jealous of the number of "Surprise Lilies" Bruno has.

I'm sad because his neighbor's dog looks very similar to Lacy...the dog I lost before Baylee.

I'm happy I know you all...what a wonderful world and thing blogging is.

BRUNO said...

Hell, for all practical purposes---"Bruno" IS my real name! I have to really concentrate on listening for my "real" name of Richard, during doctor visits and such, because I'm so "conditioned" to hearin' "Bruno" that I won't otherwise respond! I wasn't "born-a-Bruno"---there's a good-story in itself for some day, as to how I came about that moniker!

Yeah, it's a shame we didn't get to the point of diggin' in that shed! That's where I keep the "weird-stuff" of my creations!

And, you'd probably got a blast outta the inside of the house, then, too---it's still got some of the original school-house lamps, and ten-foot ceilings in the center part. I love high ceilings, even if they are hard to heat!

And I also overlooked the chance to show you my entire collection of all EIGHT of my firearms, especially the double-barrel Wesley-Richards, with the "chicken-claw" hammers, like ya' see in some of Hollywoods' finest movies.

And, if we'd asked the neighbor who stopped-by, he'd been more than happy to let us bust a few caps back there on that 200-acre "patch" of his, that he'd just came from. He'd already moved all the cattle over to the OTHER "smaller" 150-acre field, well outta the way. I'd just never "thunk" of it!

That's how tight MY head was screwed-on that day!

There was just too-much FUN, to crowd into one afternoon...!

PRH....... said...

Damn Bruno is not his real name? Shit and all this time I've thought I knew him.

PRH....... said...

Not to worry about not getting mention until the ego can handle it. :)

Plus next time I may head to Mizzou and vist "RichardBruno" after we get together in Tennessee, or maybe he can make it out that way?