How many remembers riding on the back of a pickup when you were a young’un ? I’ve got fond memories since that’s all my daddy ever drove. He always had a truck of some kind and what time we weren’t hoofing it we’d jump on the back of the old truck.
Daddy never did get in a hurry, he only drove 25 mph. We could’ve walked faster but we sure did love riding the back of that old truck. In the warmer months on many a Sunday afternoon he always took us on what he and mama called pleasure trips, and they were the only ones that rode in the cab.
Those Sunday afternoon pleasure trips took us to lots of places. A bunch of kids out to explore the world with the wind blowing against our face, we thought we’d died and gone to heaven. And we’d always stop off at the old swimming hole. It was always called the Maple Hole cause so many maple trees surrounded it. The sun was never allowed to shine and the water was like ice even in the middle of the summer. We’d play a while and jump back on the bed of the truck. That sure did cool us off quite a bit.
We rode down old dirt roads that I never knew existed and visited so many different places. Daddy and mama loved visiting old cemeteries. I couldn’t count how many of those we explored. Of course they remembered a lot of the people that were buried there and if they didn’t know them they knew their kin.
We’d stop along the way and just look around, maybe eat a picnic lunch we’d brought along. We’d spread it out on the tailgate of the old truck or on the ground if we’d thought to bring a blanket. We always said the food tasted better outdoors. Daddy called it resting for a while. Occasionally they’d go looking for poke salad, especially in the early spring, that’s the only time they liked it. Mama said it wasn’t any good once it got so big and she never liked those big stalks.
They went into the snakiest places there were. They’d tell us kids not to follow or we’d get snake bit, go figure. One time when we were in school they went out looking for poke salad and found themselves in a big over grown pasture. They had to crawl through the barbed wire to get there. They didn’t think about any cattle being in the pasture when a big bull came out of the blue. Mama said that was the fastest she’d ever seen daddy run. He said, speak for yourself old woman you out run me. I asked them if they got any poke salad and they said they left it behind for the bull. We never did let them live that one down.
We all loved traveling those old back roads and we never knew what was around the next bend. Daddy knew everyone of them cause he’d been there before. He was all over the place and helped build most of the roads that we traveled down.
Daddy lived to be ninety four and never had a driver’s license his whole life. Yep, I’m telling the truth. I don’t know if it was because he couldn’t read or write or if he just chose not to try. We used to kid him in fun about it after we got older. We told him that one of these days he was gonna wind up behind bars. He said, what are they gonna do with an old man like me, lock me up and throw away the key. He managed to get by without ever getting stopped or caught and that’s a blessing in itself. That’s the main reason we always took the back roads and he always chose the backroads going into town too.
Daddy drove all of his life. He started out driving an old wagon hitched to two mules when he was a young boy before he ever knew what a truck was. I guess for the most part he still lived in the past to a certain extent and didn’t really think he needed a driver’s license. If he were here today he’d say, we live till we die, let’s not waste a minute of it, the road is to wide not to share.
Now days if people get caught hauling their kids on the back of a truck they’ll lock them up for sure, and it’s not safe at all but back then we never knew the difference. I rode the back of a pickup so long that when my husband and I were dating I’d jump on the back of his truck when we started somewhere. One day he told me I could come on down and ride in the cab with him anytime I wanted to.
I’ll never forget when daddy finally had to give up his driving. It was a few years before he died. He knew he wasn’t able to drive anymore. His reflexes weren’t as good as before but it made us all sad just to watch him walk out there and crank that old truck everyday and just sit there listening to it run. It broke our hearts every time we saw him and I do believe he cried also.
I know times are different and things have changed, some for the better, some for the worse but I still miss those days when we were so carefree, we enjoyed life more. The little things in life are the most important and I’ll take traveling down an old country road on the back of a truck any day. The wind blowing against my face, with eyes shining bright with glee. That feeling of contentment in my heart is the best with every wind swept memory and daddy’s old pickup truck surely holds the key.
© Susie Swanson. 2013