Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Prose - Road Trip with Cigars

The breeze, even though humid, felt good blowing through my hair, until every few minutes when I would get a big waft of cigar smoke. If the car slowed down at all, the breeze would stop and the sweat would start up quickly, wanting to mix with the cigar smoke, a lovely combination.
My Dad, Arthur and step-grandfather, Challey, were enjoying their cigars in the front seat of our 1949 Oldsmobile, along with, I’m sure, a flask of bourbon, tucked away somewhere. I say step-grandfather so you know he wasn’t my Dad’s real father. All the while, my Mom, Ovada, and grandmother, Alma, my Dad’s real mom and I were in the back seat. I never remember any complaining about the cigar smoke, but I hated it. I’m sure they past out pigskins, the southern “chip of the day”, or packages of peanut butter crackers to help if the cigar smoke went over the tolerance of the stomach.
Here we all were, driving to Florida in the 1940s, before air-conditioning. We were headed down the east coast, just below W. Palm Beach to visit more relatives who made a home for my great-grandmother, Melissa, Bompa, to me. An occasional stop at a gas station was the rest area of the day, where we bought Cokes which most people liked to pour a little bag of peanuts into. I liked mine separate. It was a two day trip from northern Alabama, which was home to us. There were hundreds of miles of long, flat road. Lots of it was dirt, or more appropriate, sand. Sometimes the sand had a lot of grass, especially down the middle of the road, like it was hardly ever used. I felt so far from anything, but excited for the adventure and what I would see next. Although, there was lots of napping, until you woke up in a pool of sweat. The lull of the road and the heat made it impossible to stay awake. There was a lot of trash on the highways in those days, before we became a truly first world country. I also saw a lot of Burma Shave signs, a highlight for a kid. They were small signs following each other, telling a story. They all had a different message and carried some of the best entertainment at the time, when you were traveling on the road.
We felt like we were getting closer when we got to Ft. Lauderdale and civilization. The excitement of bumper to bumper cars and so many people got my juices flowing.
I survived these cigar smoking trips, never understanding the thrill or need for a cigar, until I was an adult. At a Plant Spirit Medicine graduation party I actually partook of puffing on a cigar. I was very much surprised how good it tasted. Maybe some part of my unconsciousness forgave my Dad and grandfather right then and there. Although its still amazing remembering how unconscious we were oh so many years ago. What are we doing now that will be considered an unconscious act years from now??

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