Speakeasy has come up with a new prompt, a video and use this line as the last line of the piece: “From that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.”
That year I was hitch-hiking my way through the West. I really didn’t have a specific goal in mind, the idea was to see what my country really looked like before I had to “grow-up” and take on life’s responsibilities.
I was somewhere in Washington state, but I couldn’t have told you where for love or money. My last driver was a little old farmer and he’d taken me from the Oregon state line to a place near his home in Washington. That’s all I knew. It was cold, and the sun was beginning to set, it was a Wednesday too, but not just any Wednesday, the next day would be Thanksgiving. I guessed to myself that I’d be missing out on that particular feast this year.
I put my thumb out when I saw an old pick-up coming my way, and it immediately stopped. A lady rolled down the window and shouted:
“Where you going?”
“Just anywhere will do, if your going towards Seattle.” I replied.
“Ok, jump in then!”
She had some country music blasting from the CD player and she sang along with the song as she drove. When it ended, she turned the player off.
“What are you doing hitching at this time of day. Shouldn’t you be with family? Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving you know!?”
“Well, I’m on the last legs of my “discovering” America, before I go home which will be just as soon as I make it to Seattle.”
“So, you won’t be able to celebrate Thanksgiving, right?”
“Nope, I’ll have to miss it this year.”
“Not if you come home with me you won’t. We ain’t got much, but there’s always a place for a little girl like you!”
I thought about it for a moment and accepted.
When we got to her house, a big sheep dog ran to the car barking it’s head off, and three children ran out the door.
“What’s your name?” the lady asked me.
“Mary Ellen, and you?”
“Gloria…that’s Shep and the kids are James, Michael and Julia.”
We walked into the house. Had dinner, played Risiko with the kids, and then Gloria at about 10:00 said: “Everybody to bed! We’ve got a big day ahead of us tomorrow.!
The next morning was spent making pies, bread, stuffing a turkey and peeling potatoes, all in an atmosphere of chatter and fun. The boys began to set the table with Julia supervising. The door bell rang at about 2:00 and people started to arrived. I think half of the homeless of Washington must have found Gloria’s house that day.
We had a wonderful feast. Singing and playing music was the high-light of the evening. Seemed like everyone could play some instrument, even if only a comb and wax paper.It was about 9:00 when everyone started to leave. Gloria sent them off with a packet of turkey sandwiches and pumpkin pie. I don’t think I’ve ever celebrated another Thanksgiving where I could really feel like there was a meaning beyond stuffing my face before or since.
The next morning, Gloria piled the kids, the dog and myself into a battered station wagon that sat in her garage beside her old pick-up truck. She took me all the way to the Sea-Tac airport.
“I’ve got some family here to greet, so I’ll just leave you here. You have a nice trip home and let us hear from you, ok?” she said, then drove off, country music began to blare out of the open window, then she was gone.
I lived near a park, in the mid-west for years. It was on the corner of Washington street and Morning Glory lane. From that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.