Autumn Trails of Sixty-Eight

Twila had carried in the rest of her bags into the room. I just had to go and get my bike and bring it into the room. This was going to be a fun weekend. We were doing the Tour de Trails Bicycle Race. More importantly we were going to do some meandering around the town of Winnsboro, Texas. A town we had lived in as kids. We had to stay in Sulpher Springs because of costs though; we were at the Holiday Inn Express.

Twila asked, “What do you want to do first?”

“I am not sure. Let’s eat first and then just stroll through the town. I want to drive down Post Oak Road and see the old house. Remember all the work we put in there?”

“What do you mean we? You were the baby and didn’t have to do work. Daddy’s pet.” Twila spurted with a smile.

“I carried hammers and nails. I fetched water and whatever else dad wanted.” I declare.

Driving to Winsboro to eat, Twila was talking but I was in my own world. Twila took the route from Sulpher Springs down Highway 137 to Highway 11. This is what I considered the main road through Winnsboro.

From there the next important landmark was the Broom Factory that marked where you turned on Post Oak Street to get to our old house. Then came Farmer Brown’s Grocery Store, this was where we did our shopping when we grew up.

A few blocks of in between stuff before you came to the turnoff to Frankenstein’s Castle. This was really just an old ice factory but everyone had called it that for years. Then a couple of houses down were my Grandmother’s house. In back of her house was Aunt Velma’s. The railroad ran parallel to this highway just south of the road.

Twila yells, “I will set you on fire if you don’t tell me where you want to eat! Sandra Lynn Mallo Adcock are you listening to me? If you don’t give me an answer I will never support you in a disagreement with your husband again.”

“Of Course I heard you. And if you stop yelling I will give you an answer. I want to eat at that Bed and Breakfast we saw. Is that okay with you? I want a steak, rice, mushrooms and gravy.” I replied in a loud tone to match hers.

We went and ate there. We talked of many things from our childhood. One memory was about dressing alike. Mom would go to the penny sale. Back then you could buy a dress and get another one for a penny. Mom thought it was neat to dress us alike even with a four year age difference.

“I recall an incident when you would not behave and they called me down to Mrs. Barker’s room to see if I could make you do so and so. You were so spoiled and mischievous. Mom got frazzled over you plenty. Dad just thought you were cute. The rest of us kids hated you because you got by with so much and ruined our stuff.”

“I was pretty young and four years younger than all of y’all. Mom and Dad treated me like a baby and spoiled me a little. It wasn’t my entire fault. I will admit I got by with a lot. But I still remember some parties you guys had that Dad let you have even down here in Winnsboro.” She knew very well what I was referring to.

We had enough of the stroll down memory lane. If we were going to participate in the Bike Run we had better get back to the motel and get some sleep. It was an early start and we still had to drive from Sulpher Springs to Winnsboro.

Twila had to drag me out of bed as usual. We finally got dressed and off with our bikes in the car. Twila drove to Winnsboro which afforded me more time to sleep. I would be ready for this Autumn Bike Ride. East Texas is pretty this time of year.

The Autumn Trails yield a range of colors from orange to a rich indigo. The ride would be a nice experience in itself. The flood of memories would be welcome too.

After we park, we register and move to our places in line. Bikes our lining up where Highways ll and 37, Main Street in Winnsboro, come together. Twila will be closer up to the front of the line because she is doing the 60 mile ride. She will finish first for two reasons even though I am only doing the 40 mile run. One her bike is a standard bike. She is in a little better shape.
My recumbent is made for an easy slow ride. It may be slow, yet it doesn’t kill my back.

I notice this is the corner where the Money Scramble occurred when I was a little girl. I was in the first grade in 1968. That day after the Parade, I got to participate in this event for the first time. There is a big arena and a floor of hay. Underneath the hay is hidden real money. Children of the same age are brought in and allowed to search for money for a specified amount of time. What they find they get to keep.

Our next door neighbor, Miss Helen, said, “Landsakes it’s a wonder none ya children broke a bone in that Money Scramble. They better stop that e-vent be-fores some ya really hurts yourselves.” Miss Helen was real sweet and I loved that she came to see me to these things this year.

My Grandfather got to come and see me at that event too. That was like a miracle in itself because he had been in and out of the hospital fighting cancer. I know this now but as a child I only knew he went in and out of the hospital. I remember he got skinner and skinner each time he came home from the hospital. He seemed to have less energy too. But he had promised me he would come and he did.

I feel bad now because I know he must have been hurting to walk downtown with us and do all the things we did that day. He died 2 weeks later. I can still hear him asking, “How much money did ya get? Was it a fair catch? Where’s my share?”

Dad was there that day too. It was a nice day in sixty-eight. A parade was how it started off. Then we had hotdogs for lunch. There were more things for the bigger kids to do. So I had to stay with the grownups as usual but I didn’t care because I got to do the Money Scramble, plus two of my favorite people were here; Miss Helen and Grandpa.

I was riding at a good pace and the breeze was nice. I loved riding bikes. I had seen Frankenstein’s Castle.

Mom had introduced me to that term. She had told me many made up stories. Mom could entertain me with plenty of things. It did look haunted. It was a reddish brown building and it had one area that looked like a tower to a six year old.

We had often walked down to there from my Aunt Velma’s. I recall that I often got sleepy after doing so. This could have been my mother’s way of getting me to take a nap.

I realized I was at the second stop. I got off the bike and went for the food and drink. My legs were cramping just a bit but my mind wouldn’t stop running through the things that had happened in first grade.

As a matter of fact this trail ride was the same way I had rode to go to my Grandfather’s funeral. I thought back to the last gift he gave me.

He was a custodian at the high school. He had found a broken two sided mirror. One side was cracked and the other was fine but had a few black spots on it. In a way that is a symbol of life. We can either live it cracked and disjointed or whole with a few imperfect spots in it.

Now I was questioning if we would end up at Piney Grove, the Church that had the cemetery where he was buried.

My brain turned to Twila. What was her outlook on this time in Winnsboro? How did it differ from mine? Would she have wanted to live her longer or was she glad to have moved to Oklahoma City when we did? If, if and if oh how much can we really know?

Each leg sure was talking to me. My allergies were kicking in also. These trees were pretty but they were causing havoc with my eyes, nose and mouth. My skin was also breaking out in a rash. I don’t know what from. I better take a Benadryl at the next food station.

Just then I look up and sure enough I ride by the Piney Grove Baptist Church. The commentary is right behind the church. This spawns memories of the funeral. What comes to mind is mom crying the whole time. I was with my cousins and I just wanted to leave this silent, except for crying, church service. I really didn’t understand the whole thing. I just knew that Grandpa was gone and I didn’t think God was being very fair.

It was the turnaround phase of the bike run. I had ten miles to go and was thinking I wasn’t going to make it.

Then I thought of my dad, now dead too. This gave me the strength to go on and finish. Dad would make me push on to finish things when I was growing up. I finished for him.

I thank him now for being hard on me, us kids. My Mom was a good role model but it is Dad that gave us the motive to push on when things really got hard.

I look back to what Grandpa might have instilled in me and I think he showed me how to be kind most of all. He never said a bad word to anyone and shared with most any person he came in contact with. My Grandmother would get the credit for showing me resourcefulness.

Grandma, what a character she was. She watched me, did ironing and laundry for people. She had an old ringer washer. But she did at least, sometimes, eight to twelve loads a day. Then she ironed and starched them. To wet a garment down, my Grandmother had a Coke bottle fitted with a cork sprinkle.

Now add doing her own garden to this. Still there is more. She sometimes would hire out for picking cotton while still watching me. I was put in a truck with other kids and told not to get out of the truck. We were given plenty of games to play, all the kind that just needed imagination.

Let’s get back to Grandma’s resourcefulness. One time my brother ran away from her. He ran into a sticker patch. Grandma made her switch and got him good. You would think he had learned his lesson. Not so. My two brothers, thinking they were smart, climbed a tree. Grandma didn’t even blink. She went out to her shed where she kept her bamboo fishing poles. She picked the longest one and went to the tree and started hitting them. Now after that neither brother ever ran from Grandma again.

I make it back to town. I am sore. “Are you ready for the BBQ Cook-off?” Twila ask.

I jump. “Yes. I guess I am. Let’s go put the bikes up. I feel good but worn out how about you?”

“You bet. You are going to have to start off driving in the morning. I am sore.” Twila teases. She wouldn’t let me start out driving in the morning. She never really trusts if I am awake for the first two hours of the day.
We head for the food.

Twila and I discuss the run. It was nice to see the old Piney Grove Church. That Church has to be at least 150 years old. It still has the same basic lay out and furniture.

We decide it is nice if some things remain the same. In the end we think it was a nice visit and run down remembrance lane but that is it.

Going back is not where it’s at. We are comfortable with the now time. The past has prepared us for the now and the now takes care of us in the future.

Life is what it is. A bike run rolling down a path with curves for sure but covering old scenery is dreary.

7 thoughts on “Autumn Trails of Sixty-Eight

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