My Dad and I became buddies when I was in Kindergarten. He worked on the oil rigs in South Mississippi and Louisiana. He was the “Boss.” He took me to work with him when I asked. And, let me tell you, I asked to go with him a whole lot.
We would ride out in the country to check on the rigs. They were awesome!
Big giant collections of roaring engines making black smoke, pulling pipe out of the ground or drilling ahead. Men in boots and hard hats, saying words I had never heard before. They did the heavy work and smiled at me. Everything had a funny name for me to remember. There were drawworks, spinning chains, traveling blocks, mud pumps, drill pipe, kellys and high pressure water hoses. Sometimes I got to play with the water house.
Inside the tool house they kept all sorts of cool stuff. And, every bit of it was dirty. In no time, I would be covered with dirt, grease and grime. It was a perfect place for a little boy wearing clean blue jeans and a snap button cowboy shirt.
Being out there was a lot of fun. No doubt about it. Enough danger to stir any kid’s imagination!
And I remember there was something else.
We always stopped at one of the little stores that dotted the country roads back then.
For a youngster, they were glimpses of paradise.
Up front, there was the cash register. Next to it were big glass jars, filled to the
top with candy and cookies. This was before someone decided to put everything in individual, hermetically sealed plastic wrappers. Maybe germs didn’t live on candy and cookies in the 1950’s.
Behind the counter, they kept BBs for the kids and real bullets for the grown ups.
Sometimes my Dad would buy a bag of Red Man chewing tobacco. Farther back, there was the bread rack, with cinnamon rolls, cup cakes and light bread. I hope you know about light bread.
On one side there would be a stack of shirts, a few pair of dungarees and straw hats. I never noticed if they sold women’s clothes. It was a general store . I’m sure they had a little bit of everything.
Today, there’s security cameras, bright lights, flashing signs and metal buildings with concrete driveways. There’s no front porch. There’s no bench by the front door or a post to lean against. There’s no collection of old men with nothing much to do.
It’s all gone. And, I hate that.
Every time, on every trip, we would stop at one of those country stores. Dad would get a sleeve of crackers and four or five slices of salami and cheese. He liked cheese. I never did. He would buy me a can of Vienna Sausage. Enough for a kid. I also got a nickel bag of oatmeal cookies from the big jar next to the cash register or a cinnamon roll. He would buy a dozen cokes to go. One for him and the rest for the men on the rig. He’d buy me a bottle of chocolate milk.
Bosses do that, you know.
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