Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Road Trip Memories

I went on a road trip tonight. I drove to Hartwell GA to speak to a company Christmas party. Then I turned around and drove back home. The mileage was somewhere around 365 miles. That’s a fairly long trip for a 30 minute talk but I’ve done that more than a few times.

In fact in every single town I drove through to get there I had memories of times past.

After I left Macon, I passed a couple of churches on the way to Gray where I have spoken somewhere in the past. In Gray I was reminded of those years I delivered furniture all over that town. At one time when I was in the furniture business, I had a part-time sales rep from Gray and she made me a lot of money. Right before I turned left to go towards Eatonton I looked to the right and remembered when I cut the heck out of my finger with a box cutter. I had already delivered the furniture and pulled over to cut up the boxes so I could get them to a dumpster. I think I felt a twinge of pain in my finger as I drove by.

When I got to Eatonton, I was reminded of the time I spoke to a Youth Camp at Rock Eagle. When I got there that night they were having a rock concert. All of a sudden they cut all the lights off and gave me a rip roaring introduction as a comedian. I told bathroom stories that night. My "View from a Hearse" presentation would not have worked with that crowd. I also remembered the funeral I went on in Eatonton when I was a teenager. Dennon Roberson and I had gone ahead of the funeral procession that day to take the flowers to the cemetery. He put me out in the highway at the cemetery so I could direct the funeral traffic into the cemetery. I saw the funeral procession coming and very professionally stood in the road and turned the cars into the cemetery. Only to find out I had turned the wrong funeral procession in the cemetery. We had a major traffic jam that day. And my daddy was not a happy camper.

When I drove through Madison I was reminded of all the trips I made there visiting John and Susan Simmons of Simmons Funeral Home when that funeral home was part of our company and in my area of responsibility. John was not in great health the last time I saw him and I wondered how they are doing. I also remember speaking in that town on at least two occasions and maybe more.

The very familiar road between Madison and Athens brought back a ton of memories as I was thinking of the days I was a student at the University of Georgia and rode up and down that road on certain Sunday afternoons in my push button Plymouth and later in my little Toyota. I was reminded of the night my friend Debbie was riding with me back to school and we came up on a bad wreck. (Remember that night Deb)? It’s a thousand wonders I never had a wreck on that road.

Athens brings back too many memories even to mention but I never drive through there without thinking of my late friend Tim Teck. Just about all my memories in Athens include him. I thought about all that so much that on the way home I called another college friend just to say hello.

When I drove thru Danielsville I thought of my sophomore roommate Benjy Folk. His mom lived in Danielsville and every now and then when we were in school we would ride the thirty minutes or so out to her house and get a real home cooked meal. The drive back was usually about 15 minutes because I usually found myself in a hurry to find a restroom after that huge homecooked meal. And restrooms were scarce those days between Danielsville and Athens. I also rode by my friend Michael Tittle’s funeral home. I almost stopped to visit him but I decided I better keep going. When Michael was trying to get his funeral director’s license, I called a guy to tutor him for the national exam. I told Michael the only stipulation was that he would have to sleep with the tutor. Of course I was kidding but I’ll never forget the look on Michael’s face.

Driving in Royston, I saw the big conference center on the left where I spoke several years ago. I forget what the function was but I remember a very large crowd was there that night. I stopped to get gas when I got into town this afternoon and looked across the road and saw the Ty Cobb Hospital. When I was at UGA, I worked for the Jackson County Ambulance Service for a year or so as an EMT. The Sheriff and a couple of prisoners were in a bad automobile accident out on the interstate one night. I remember picking them up and bringing them to Ty Cobb Hospital in Royston. That was 33 years ago but I recognized that hospital. And I remembered that night.

The next town was my destination. I drove by a restaurant in downtown Hartwell where I spoke to a company party one Sunday afternoon and then drove by the high school where I spoke to the Chamber of Commerce annual banquet several years ago. I sat that night at the head table next to the owner of the telephone company and I remember having a conversation with him. Although he was not able to be there, tonight I was speaking at his company’s Christmas party some 10 years later at the Country Club.

As I type this and hit the upload button I will turn out the lights, sleep a little and then head to the office in the morning. And then I will have another opportunity tomorrow night to create a few more memories.

If I say so myself… I’ve had quite a run.


Anonymous said...

Bruce, How do you remember all that? I don't remember that wreck, but I do remember one trip home at the end of the quarter. I recall your grades were, shall we say not up to par. I didn't think we'd ever leave Athens because you went to every professor's office to beg them to change your grades. All the way home you kept asking, "What do you think Daddy is going to do?" And every time I'd say, "Bruce, Ed's going to kill you." Happily, he didn't and I don't think your grades were ever that bad again. Love you, Debbie

Bruce Goddard said...

Debbie, I KNOW you remember that wreck. The car was at the bottom of an embankment. A guy waved us down for help. We stopped and I went all the way down to the bottom of the embankment to see about the guy. The police and ambulance got there and we left. We were on the way back to Athens on a Sunday night.

Anonymous said...

Was it maybe Deja Vue?

kturnerga said...

Mr. Bruce:

There are enough old road signs on that stretch to UGA to jar up memories. I seem to remember the Dairy Queen in Eatonton or somewhere on the way to pick up my sister back in '72. They built a new one in the Nineties which lacks the walkup window.

I think I have pictures of the old bridge near the county line on 129 (on a side road where only one person lives). It was a slender affair with its presently used companion built in 1967. Just think how many kids went over that old bridge to Athens.

On a related subject do you remember the old Christmas albums that department stores compiled and sold under their name? I have one from Penney's, Grant's and a tire store. In this politically correct age...don't look for any more Christmas compilations from stores.

Merry Christmas

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