Compleat Redneck

Commentary from the boondocks. If it makes any sense, it is just by chance.

Thursday, April 10, 2003
Cletus read where Mr. Possum was discussing fried green tomatos. He says that he always gets nervous ever since he read that book by Fanny Flagg "Fried Green Tomatos". He is convinced they barbequed that guy and it just makes him all nervous and upset. I did notice that it wasn't affecting his appetite to think about it, but he insists it puts him entirely off his feed. Anyway, we got to talking about the perfect Southern food keeping Mr. Possum's four food groups in mind: fat, starch, salt and sugar. We wondered if there is a perfect Southern food. Keep in mind that to be a perfect Southern food, it must be fried so that leaves out you pecan pies and beans with fatback. Cletus thought that pork rinds might be it but they don't have a lot of sugar. It seems to us that fat, starch and sugar are the main food groups with salt merely being a possibility if'n you need to spice something up. Bubba thinks that any proper list of Southern food groups would have to include Louisiana hot sauce, but he couldn't get any backing for that. Elroy says that hot sauce is just an affectation for people who want to show how tough they are.

We finally settled on the four groups that Mr. Possum first laid out with salt being a kind of personal thing. Anyway, the only thing we could come up with was fried pies. Can't find them much any more, but all our Grandmama's made them. They dried the apples and peaches in the sun on bedsheets, rolled out their dough nice and thin, put in a generous bait of fruit, folded the crust over and fried them suckers. That was truly good eatin'. And, most of them added a little salt!

Cletus is all happy and excited because we know someone famous. He thinks he may be able to use it it in his campaign for County Commissioner. Bubba says he has done some research into the job of County Commissioner and he really wonders why anyone would want the job. Says it is a little like the job of the famous person we know. WE KNOW JAY GARNER! HA! Stick that in your craw and chew it. Oh? You don't know who Jay Garner is? He is to be the interim temporary transitional almost governor of liberated Iraq. And we know him. Okay, we are not really personal friends but he has eaten in the Emporium and was very nice and left a good tip. He came in here with some of the rocket scientists back when he was in charge of place over in Huntsville. He didn't live down here, but he came down a lot. A bunch of the rocket scientists know him.

Cletus says we are almost famous ourselves since we are so close to knowing a famous person. Elroy says he once saw Willie Nelson across the street from the Electric Coop and the boys from the band Alabama live over in the next county. We are surrounded by famous folk.

Harold Donald was not real happy about Cletus' little tale about spirits transportation. The part that bothered him was Cletus' assertion that he spent all his money on women and here he has been telling his wife for thirty years that she is the only woman in his life ever. She never believed him but now she has Cletus' little story and she is really giving HD down the road about his adventures. HD says Cletus really has what it takes to be a successful politician. He is willing to sell his friends down the river for a little advantage or fun. Cletus said that he hoped he hadn't lost HD's vote. HD just kinda stared at him and left.

We wish old Jay the best.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003
Cletus here.

Billy Joe Bob said I would tell a tale from the thrilling days of yesteryear when men were men and women were women and everything was bigger and better than it is now. Sorry, I couldn't come with one of those but here is a tale of the vast profits to be made in the field of illicit distilled spirits transportation and in this case, I am not the protagonist or victim. See, I did so pay attention in Mizz Calhoun's 10th grade English class where I picked up such useful words as protagonist. Haven't had a chance to use it in over the last 30 years or so, but it finally came in handy.

Okay, on to the tale of vast sums of money and work in advanced forms of transportation. Now this is not a tale such as that told by Robert Mitchum in "Thunder Road', that great drive-in theater fare from the 50's. No this is a tale about Harold Donald ( his name was really Donald Harold, but I changed it to protect his privacy). We were classmates in that very same 10th grade where I learned the word "protagonist". HD was the only kid with a hotrod Libcoln. In fact, his was one of those 4 door convertibles that Lincoln built for a couple of years in the early 60's. It was baby blue with a white top and had enough power to burn the rear tires off and never move. HD was in the distilled spirits transportation business. In those days, getting caught with untaxed beverages would get you a year and a day in Kilby prison, but in theory, a juvenile would just get probation or a few months in reform school. Most of us had no interest in testing out the theory, but HD said there was too much money to left lying around so with the help of his ne'er do well uncle, he signed on to haul spirits from Georgia into Chattanooga. Now I know that you are thinking that he had this hopped up Lincoln and loaded up the backseat and trunk with gallon jars and drove 100 mph through the night evading the revenuers all the way just like Robert Mitchum. Nope, he drove his Lincoln over to Georgia, parked it at a filling station, walked down the road a mile and got in a 2 ton farm truck loaded with corn and drove the truck to Chattanooga. There he dropped the truck off at a feed store, walked up the street a piece where his Lincoln would be waiting with a full tank of gas and a $100 in the glovebox. I guess a $100 doesn't sound like much, but this was in the days when most people in our town were making $100 a week before taxes. HD was making it by spending a half day every Saturday driving his Lincoln and an old Ford farm truck.

I guess that you are wondering about that truck full of corn.. HD told me he climbed up and looked and there was a layer of corn and the rest was jars of spirits. As weeks went by, HD started to worry about making the weekly trip up to Chattanooga. It seemed to him that someone should be suspicious about there being a new load of corn to haul every week when it was well outside picking season and he became convinced that it was only a matter of time until the revenuers got him and he spent years in jail. It didn't help when one of our classmates got into trouble and got sent to reform school until he was 21. That was a lot longer than a year and a day an adult would get for hauling spirits. Now this is like one of them tragedies where a fatal flaw in the protagonist's character leads to his downfall. HD wanted to quit. He really did, but $100 a week goes a long way when you are 16 living with your parents and can spend it all on, you guessed it, girls. He just couldn't give it up. He had already decided to go to trade school so had given up studying. He was out every night with a different girl or woman. Funny how a woman can overlook a few years age difference if the boy has money. Anyway, HD was as near heaven as a 16 year old boy could be without dying, but he also was becoming a case of the nerves. He was convinced that he would be caught and sentenced to spend the rest of his useful life in reform school coming out a broken old man of 21. When you are 16, 21 is ancient.

It started to affect him right bad. He got more and more jittery until none of us wanted to be around him. If he had spent a little of his money on us, we may have thought differently, but he never even told us he had money. Oh, we wondered about the Lincoln, but he said his grandmother gave him her car when she couldn't drive any more. I don't know how he explained the car to his parents, but they didn't seem concerned.

Well, one Saturday, HD dropped off the load at the feed store, got his Lincoln and headed home to Alabama. This was the days before the Interstate highways so he headed down US11 out of Chattanooga cutting over to US72 at South Pittsburg. Now US 72 was a two lane winding country road patrolled by state troopers and the county sheriff. HD was motoring along when he saw the flashing lights coming up behind him. To him, the lights could only mean that the revenuers finally knew about him and were there to haul him away to reform school for about five years. He decided to put up a good fight.

Up out of Bridgeport, he floored the LIncoln and was pulling away on the straights. Unfortunately, the Lincoln went real well unless you needed to turn a corner. It cornered a little less well that the Queen Elizabeth II. And the brakes were nothing to write home about. So on the straights, HD was gaining ground but the trooper was catching him through the corners. To make things worse, HD was having a harder and harder time getting the Lincoln slowed down enough to make the corners and the dropoffs were about twenty feet with big trees about 10 feet from the highway. After about 10 miles of the high speed chase which he guessed hit 120 mph several times, HD decided that he would just give up and go to jail since the alternative looked to be killing himself on a big water oak. Just before Hollywood, there was a filling station and HD wheeled in there, waiting for the trooper to haul him a way. The trooper passed doing about a hunnerd. HD figured that he had gotten lucky and the trooper had just missed him. He waited a few minutes and drove slowly on toward Scottsboro. A couple of miles up the road, he came upon a wreck that was being cleaned up. His buddy the trooper was directing traffic. As HD came up to him, the trooper motioned for him to stop. His heart in his throat, he rolled the window down expecting to be hauled out and arrested. The trooper leaned over, looked at him and said, "Son, I just want to think you for getting out of my way so I could get here. That was a right fine bit of driving you did back there through the swamp where you couldn't pull off. I think we must have hit 70 in some places down through there. You are a real good driver, Son."

Only then did HD remember that he wasn't hauling spirits. The only crime he had ever committed in Alabama was speeding to get away from the trooper and maybe dalliances with underage girls although he figured he was pretty much underage too.. He managed to get the Lincoln moving again. It was only after a few minutes that he noticed he had wet his pants when he got the big scare, although he wasn't sure what the big scare was, first seeing trooper, nigh on killing himself on an oak or seeing the trooper the second time. He really thought about getting out of the business, but he couldn't give up the girls. He kept hauling but he traded the Lincoln for a car that handled better, small backseat and all.