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My "Car' in High School
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The Spectator
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 by Frank Shortt
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While attending Garden High School at Oakwood, Virginia I was content riding Old Bus 17 driven by Mr. Emerson Brown, also a teacher at the school. If I missed the bus because of late chores at home, I ended up riding a dirty coal truck, if I happened to be able to hitch a ride. These were my ‘cars’ then!

I met my first female acquaintances at the old Raven Theater at Raven, Virginia operated by the three Wilson siblings. My ‘car’ then was if I could hitch a ride along Hwy. 460 and if not, my transportation was Wolverine’s with rundown tread. It was six crooked miles to Raven along a rutty 2-lane road.  I would move any obstacle that might prevent me from going to the theater on Saturday nights to see Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Lash Larue, and, maybe meet a pretty little filly! None ever knew that my ‘sole’ transportation was my trusty Wolverines ‘car’, and that I could barely scrape enough money together to attend the movies. The way back home was fraught with certain danger. It would be totally dark by the time I got out of the movies and possibly walked a young lady home. Some of the rides were with cousins who drank and who loved to take the steep curves on two wheels. They sure knew how to scare an uneasy cousin! It is a wonder I did not end up in the top of one of the many oaks that grew alongside this rural, unkempt highway!

One Saturday night I was invited to a party at the home of the Newberry family up in Mill Creek Hollow. My older brother had married one of the Newberry girls. This meant getting a ride to Raven, walking to the beginning of Mill Creek Hollow, and if no one was going that way, it was a long walk up to Newberry’s house. My old Wolverines were my ‘car’ in this event. Mill Creek Hollow was both dark and deep. The only light that ever, eventually, made its way into the confines of the hollow at night was when the moon or stars could force their light between the thick foliage along the road. When one said, “I couldn't see my hand in front of me”, this was no doubt spoken of Mill Creek Hollow. In those days, my teenage years, I was both young and like the Hollow, not very bright! I finally reached the Newberry home after encounters with deep ruts in the road and angry dogs and their owners. I realized that it would take a lot of coaxing to get me back up that hollow again! I thought, “what is some of those ruts contained water from the often rain in that area?”

While at the party I met, who in my youthful imaginings, was the prettiest girl I had ever seen. While playing the games of ‘spin the bottle’, post office, and some other kissing games I realized, “Her lips were like strawberry-jam that mom made from the wild strawberries I so laboriously picked every summer. Her kisses lingered with me all the following week causing me to move Heaven and Earth to get back to her house the following Saturday night. The movies at Raven became commonplace, and second place to this new adventure! Boy, had I fallen hard!

The ‘perfect country gentlemen’ of Mill Creek Hollow were intolerant of anyone outside their community who took a liking to one of the local girls. If they knew a stranger was coming their way, they had ways of dissuading that person to change his mind in a hurry. This would be in the form of sticks and stones thrown at any noise their dogs happened to bark at! Such was the dilemma that I faced each night I went for a visit. I couldn't figure out why, or how, they knew I was coming each time. This took up a lot of my thinking every week prior to the fated visit. But, I just had to go!

One night, as I wended my way up the Hollow, it suddenly dawned on me what the problem had been all along. It was the old Wolverines that gave me away. While cruising up the quiet, country road the clamorous squeaks and echoes sounded like Patton’s army marching to war! No wonder they knew I was coming. I might as well have blown a trumpet and cried, “Here I am, come on and get me!” Every dog in the neighborhood sounded the alarm ahead of me. What a dupe I had been. There was only “one way in and one way out”, and the local boys knew that I had to pass their way. The rocks and sticks that came whizzing past my head were a grave warning that I wasn't wanted on their turf.

     Afterward, I moved as quietly as possible, but I was never ‘quiet enough’. My wolverine ‘car’ was just too noisy! I had to find a way to quieten those dogs!! I didn't want to end up with knots on my head or bruises on my body! Was any girl worth all this danger? One day, as I was perusing the merchandise of Horton's department store in Raven, my eyes fell upon a box which read, “Hush Puppies”. My heart began to sing again!! I read further, and found out that this model was so designed to make the owner practically noiseless. Boy, was I elated! No more sticks, no more rocks, no more derisive cries in the night. But, how was I to get $12.98. I had been cutting mine timbers for the local miners but lately there had been no orders. I went home with heavy heart trying my best to find a solution to this nagging problem. After visiting the local mine owner a few times, (I actually think he grew tired of me bothering him,) he finally agreed to a timber order. That, and doing small chores around the mine, raised enough money to pay for the precious prize!

I traded in the old Wolverine brand for the up-to-date Hush Puppy brand! Sudden quiet! This I used until I went into the USAF and then Uncle Sam gave me, wouldn’t you know it, a new pair of clod-hopper brogans!

These were my ‘car’ for quite a while until I bought a real car!