Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wilbo's Father Looked Like Abraham Lincoln.

I find myself relaxing for a moment at the Pilot Truck Stop, Sonora Kentucky. It's fun to scoop up details of my current place in geography about an hour south of Louisville. The town has less than four hundred people. The nearby Baptist Church has a Christmas Eve service tomorrow at 4:30 PM. And apparently, President Abe Lincoln began his life within two miles of where I am writing. Really, it's more than sitting in a truck stop Subway that serves breakfast sandwiches all twenty-four hours of the day. I have resisted buying a Citizen's Band radio. There's a Cobra for less than one hundred dollars, and that's the brand my father kept in his AMC Gremlin during the years he drove 75 miles from our farm in Byron to his job at GM Hydramatic at Nine Mile and Mound in Warren. He used it for company and to keep awake on the wee hour drive to arrive for Six AM punch in at the time-clock. 

When we drove together to the hardware store, he would let me take the microphone, rocking the handle "Squeaking Eagle". The only person I could reach in that sparsely populated county was a friend from school, Tim. I'm sure my mother sent me along with dad to keep him out of Kane's Club Car or the Iron Horse Saloon. 

When I came of drinking age, dad and I would sit at the Iron Horse and have no more than two beers each. He was retired by then, no longer driving almost one hundred and fifty miles round trip. He would get up, put on coffee, take his place in the Lazy Boy by the picture window. For a few years, he would prepare materials for my mother's art work. She painted small wooden figurines and dad sanded and cleaned the forms so his wife could focus on painting. 

I learned about Abe Lincoln in First Grade, the man on the penny. I came home and looked at dad and realized, "Father looked like Abraham Lincoln". Seriously, my dad had many of the skin conditions, including moles, that characterized the face of Honest Abe.

Dad was sensitive about pennies. I threw one out the window of his Gremlin when we were driving home from school. He always picked my siblings and me I after athletic practice. He would reach our small rural community right around five, which made this work.

He knew what I had thrown. He was livid and demanded to know in my own words what I had done. "But it was only a penny!" I protested. He put his right hand near my eyes, not in a menacing way. He wanted to teach me a lesson. "See that scar?" "I got that scar from a weld flash while working on the line. It took just a second. In that second, I earned a penny. Remember that a penny means something now". And then we drove on in thoughtful silence.

I am hardly pennywise. I am more pound-foolish. I do hoard pennies and look at them closely, finding even now a wheathead, a penny he loved to keep in a jar by his bed.

Will Juntunen

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