‘Rebel’ Rod’s Reflections – Happy Thanksgiving Everyone
It is finally starting to feel like fall around here in South-Central Texas.
We have consistently had temperatures in the 80’s for the better part of a week or two now, and it has been difficult to experience the full effects of the ‘fall’ spirit. If it were not for high school basketball, I would not have even realized the Holiday Season was upon us.
My son plays on the local High School varsity basketball team and had an away game the other night. His Grandparents, my Parents, wanted to go watch him play. They, being on up in their years, asked me to drive them, of course, I was more than happy to oblige them.
As we were driving along the winding road from Kerrville to Fredericksburg, I began to have some vivid memories of our family’s treks from Dallas to Oklahoma City when I was very young, for the Thanksgiving Holiday.
It would usually be dark when we started out on these journeys because my Father would work almost 24 hours a day to ensure we had food on the table, shelter, and clothes on our backs. We would generally have to wait until he got off work before we would get on the road.
Back then, there were no Interstate highways. In fact, most roads were two-lane blacktop complete with potholes, but occasionally you would run across, what was then considered a massive four-lane highway.
Anyway, we would be traveling these winding roads through hills, the small mountains in Central Oklahoma known as The Arbuckles, and valleys in our ‘53 Chevy Bel-Air. The inside of this powder blue, massive piece of metal could easily house a family of four, with room for growth!
I remember us driving these roads, my sister, two and a half years my junior beside me with our chins resting on our crossed arms on the top part of the back of the front seat, listening to the AM radio.
I cannot remember if we actually called it AM radio back then because this was way before FM had become popular or even existed. We would be listening to the tunes emitting from the radio. Tunes from popular artists of the era, such as, Louis Prima, Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Dean Martin, Patti Page, and Frank Sinatra blasting from the mono speaker strategically placed in the top center of the car’s dashboard.
Mom and Dad would usually sing along with most of the tunes. They seemed to know every word of the lyrics, and it appeared the words meant something significant to them, as they would occasionally glance into each other’s eyes as they sang. They both had adequate voices. Dad sang in a very pleasant baritone, Mom possessed a velvety smooth alto that I truly loved to listen too.
We would drive until that station was out of range, and then we would switch gears, listening to some Rock-a-Billy station, playing the likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, or the “Killer” (AKA Jerry Lee Lewis). If we were lucky, the DJ might on occasion, sneak in some Rock ‘N Roll from Chuck Berry and possibly some blues from Howlin’ Wolf, or Muddy Waters, maybe even some Little Walter.
We would continue on our journey to my Grandparent’s house for the feast that awaited us, when we would happen upon a solid country and western station. The DJ here, playing artists such as Hank Williams, Ernest Tubbs, The Louvin Brothers, Kitty Wells, and Lefty Frizzell.
It was a seemingly never-ending flow of incredible tunes that never seemed to stop, no matter where we were, no matter how far we traveled, the music was always there.
To add to the atmosphere, and by today’s standards this would be a bad thing, but there was always the aroma emitting from the mixture of smoke generated from the puffing of Dad’s Chesterfield Kings and Mom’s Salem mentholated cigarettes. The smoke from their cigarettes swirling, eventually becoming one giant cloud of smoke that slowly made its way to our young innocent faces, up our nostrils, igniting our sense of smell, the both of us adoring each whiff we would inhale.
This is my memory of the Thanksgiving Holiday. More so than even the incredible food that was always present in great abundance. I truly believe that it was moments like these that molded me, and moments like these that caused me to fall so deeply in love with music.
The music I listen to today is all over the place. Just like the radio back then. All one back then had to do was to move the dial on the radio a few centimeters, or drive a few miles, and you had something completely different, but it was always music.
Where did the music go?
I hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!