Working at The Happiest Place in the Mall affords me the chance to sometimes see people I haven't seen in years. I have seen many of my college mates come through the doors, each looking for some magic, and a few from elsewhere (including a run in with Shay Oliver, to which I had to apologize for the visit). Tonight? Beth Edison came through the doors. Haven't seen her in about, I dunno, 17 years? She still looks the same, just a few years older.
We also had a prom group come through tonight, and that gave me a great idea for a post later... prom nights. Four proms, three dates, many stories. But that's later. For now, here's the end of my daylong visit to Samson, Alabama. This actually appears on pages 9 thru 12 of the original document I wrote it on, which is why I had to break it up into four parts. Its been a fun column to write, though. Anyway, here's the previous posts, then the finale....
Samson Blog Part I: "...Knee High to a Puddle Duck"
Samson Blog Part II: Tammy Ward & the Library Books
Samson Blog Part III: High School Highs... and Lows
PART IV... MEMORIES ON HIGHWAY 52
At 7:30, I turned onto Highway 52, and headed out of Samson, toward Geneva, back from the direction I had already come. I had told Sandy Wright hours earlier that I would stop by her parent’s house and say hello, so when I came upon their county road, I turned right. It was paved, but only slightly… the Wright home is a house I’d been to many, many times as a teenager, both visiting and working. Sometimes I would just hang out with Cristie, other times I would help Forrest paint or clean or whatever, and he paid well. The restaurant closed some years after I started college, but the Wrights own a florist & gift shop in Geneva, and he does, or at least did at one point, sell fencing and siding.
So when I came to the Wright home, imagine my surprise when I couldn’t get in. They have a long white fence that wraps around the property, with a small driveway that I parked in. There was a gate. An immovable gate that I had no clue how to approach. Granted, I could have easily ducked between the wide spaces in the fencing, but the last time I was here, they had a couple of Dalmatians that were the size of Toni Rocky Honda, so I stood for a few minutes, staring at the house. Do I honk the horn? Do I duck under the fence and make a run for it, hoping the Spawn of Spotted Dog doesn’t chase me down and maul me? What do I do? It’s about 7:50 now, the light is fading, so who knows if they even recognize me?
Finally, I decided I would just leave a note. I grabbed a Sharpie, cause you know I lurves me some Sharpies and Toni Rocki Honda contains about 30, and scribbled down:
Forrest & Charlotte
Stopped by to see you both. Didn’t know how to enter the Wright Fortress. Hope you are well, hope to see you soon.
I wheeled Toni Rocki Honda to their mailbox, opened it, put my note in, and left. There was one more stop to make, really, in my Samson excursion… Wal-Mart, though it was actually in Geneva. My purpose was singular… I wanted to walk the store front to back, side to side, and count the paces. Then I wanted to compare it with the Wal-Mart down the street from The Cabana on 280. Back to front, the Geneva Wal-Mart was 73 paces. Side to side, its 103. I’m not joking. And the Wal-Mart closes, which in a city that has about six of them within a fifteen mile radius that stay open 24-7, is unfathomable.
Finally, it was time to go. Through Geneva, back through Enterprise and up to Troy, where I made a quick stop at the FarmHouse Fraternity house to drop off a paddle that was given to me years and years ago by my big brother there… it was time the paddle found a home in the house. Met some of the guys, watched a few minutes of the NCAA championship game, shook some hands and then I was out.
My last stop before home was in Prattville at Steak-n-Shake… I wasn’t even that hungry, having eaten hours before, but I got a small burger, fries and a milkshake… because its Steak-n-Shake, and I never get a chance to go there. Truly, I miss Denny’s, but I do love some SNS.
My day in Samson was wonderful, not made so by any particular part of it, but by the combination of well wishes, familiar faces and throwbacks to days when it was so simple. I think everyone thinks to themselves how they would do it if they could go back, knowing now what you know. I would think I’d be the coolest guy in school, because honestly I wouldn’t care. Lord knows I’d have better fashion sense, and I’d probably have a change of clothes in my locker to put on as soon as I got to school.
As simple as it seems, though, I am truly blessed to be sitting here in front of my laptop, sitting on a wooden TV tray, which is sitting on an expensive designer rug, sprawled out in front of our leather couches, in a living room directly under the bedroom where the most wonderful, beautiful woman I’ve ever known is sleeping peacefully. All of this is in The Cabana, our house we bought last year, sitting close to a major highway in our town, which means we’re close to everything, including both jobs that we possess and love.
I do have a new found love for my hometown of Samson, and one day, maybe in a few decades, though still probably never, I might go back. Maybe with The Lovely Steph Leann in 2020, maybe as a widower in 2061. And I do have a love for the people I left behind, be it Chris McCall or my other two Samson BFFs Tonya and Greg, and friends like Jason Howell (who I’m dying to spend some more time with) and Rona Mock and her husband Ryan (who I’m going to call for dinner in the next two weeks) and especially my mom, who will most certainly die in this town, probably in the next few years. I’ve already decided I’m going to make it a more frequent trip, perhaps once every two months, maybe once per month during football season…
..but in all my remembering where I come from, I’ll be careful not to forget where I am now. And where I am right now is the most blessed place I could be. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna click this laptop off and go upstairs and sleep next to The Lovely Steph Leann.
(one more authors note... when I finish and publish a post, which usually takes me forever, as The Lovely Steph Leann can attest, I read it on the actual website itself, usually to make sure it flows and posts correctly, is spaced correctly, et al. Tonight as I did this for Part IV, my website playlist played "When I Get Where I'm Going" by Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton. I thought it was kinda cool. Course, if this were 1993, "You Don't Bring Me Anything But Down" might've sufficed for my dinner guest. Ha!!)
Thanks for reading.