Red Dirt, Swamp Coolers and Mad Dog 20/20

Dear Grandma and Grandpa, I hope y’all are doing well up there in Heaven and keeping an eye on us poor slobs down here on Earth. I still try to go visit Sayre, Oklahoma, and our remaining kinfolks about once a year. I always bring y’all some pretty flowers when I come up, Grandma. I know how you like pretty flowers.

There’s something about going back to Sayre that is like “Going Back Home“ to me. I just had my eyes closed and was daydreaming. I felt a warm breeze and I was sitting on the big old front porch in Sayre, holding on to one of the black support poles that me, Ran and Deanna used to swing on. I could hear Grandma and Deanna rustling around in the kitchen and

I could smell the homemade rolls. I watched a pick-up truck go by as me and Ran anxiously waited and watched for Grandpa’s truck to come pulling up the driveway. He’s coming home to get us to go fishing. Ran, De and I are all about 9 or 10 years old. Me and Ran had our stash of old comic books right behind the old “Swamp Cooler” y’all used to cool the house.

It’s not too hot out yet, still pretty early in the summer. Grandma’s 1964 Galaxie 500 is in the driveway. I can smell that musty smell from the swamp cooler and the Red Dirt in the driveway. It’s so vivid that it brings tears to my eyes. I would give every dime I got to go back to that day. Now I’ll spend days trying to get back to that daydream!

Ya know, Grandpa, it’s funny how life changes as we get older. Actually, it’s not funny, it actually stinks! When Randy and I were growing up, all the kids in our neighborhood rode a mini-bike or a small motorcycle. It was cool, because we got a bike first then the other kids followed suit.

I remember, I had my racing Honda CL100, Ran had a Yamaha Enduro 100, Jimmy Hix had a Honda SL70, Greg “Pork” Brown had a Suzuki Trail Hopper, Lips Wilson had a Honda SL100, his brother Steve Wilson had a Honda CT70, Ugly Jimmy Nelson had a Honda SL125, David Allen had a Kawasaki 100 and Danny Wilkerson had a Hodaka Combat Wombat. Then there was Greg Ballenger, he didn’t have a bike so he used to bum rides from the rest of the gang.

All us knuckleheads used to hangout at Ran’s and my house. One time we decided we were all gonna spend the weekend camping and riding our bikes on the dirt trails about 10 miles from our neighborhood. So we all got together Friday after school to discuss our plans and get the bikes ready for the weekend. We decided to pool our dough and go get some “necessities” for the weekend. At that time in our lives the necessities were Lone Star Beer, Boone’s

Farm Strawberry Hill Wine, Mad Dog 20/20 and then we had to have some Swisher Sweets! So we all pulled out all our money and we wound up with $40, which was a lot of money for teenagers back in the ’70s. So we got two guys on each bike so we could carry the “necessities” back to the house. Back then you only had to be 18 years old to drink in Texas. Problem was, we were only 15 and 16 years old. We lived in Irving, but we had to go to Dallas to get booze.

Here’s what we decided to do. We would pull up on the side of the Liquor Store and wait for somebody that we thought looked “cool” to pull up and then we would ask him or her this simple question: “Excuse me Sir/Ma’am, if I give you the money to purchase us some booze, will you do it if I buy you a six-pack?” Believe it or not, back in those days we had about a 75 percent success ratio!

A few minutes after we pulled up, a cool cat driving a brand-new 1972 Chevelle come flying in the parking lot. He gets out and he looked pretty old, maybe 28 or 30. He had long hair and long sideburns. He was wearing bell bottom pants and he was smoking a cigar. So I go walking up really cool like and ask him if he’d get us some booze if I gave him the money plus bought him a six-pack. “Sure thing squirt, it’ll be a cinch,” he said! A few minutes later, here he comes carrying a case of Lone Star Beer, two bottles of Strawberry Hill Wine, one bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 and a box of Swisher Sweets.

He gives us the booze and keeps a bottle of the wine for himself. That was a cool cat right when we needed one. After we load up and take off on the back way back to Irving, we get pulled over by the fuzz. He finds out how young we were and he makes us open every single container of beer and wine and makes us dump it out in the grass. Then he lets us go but he called our parents and they were waiting on us when we got home. Not a good reception when me and Ran walked into the house. My butt still hurts!

Anyway, I miss y’all Grandma and Grandpa. Excuse me while I close my eyes, I’m gonna try to get that daydream back again so I can be 10 years old and spending my summer with y’all!

Love ya!

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