It is cold outside. Snow and ice are not far behind. This kind of weather always triggers memories for me: Christmas programs at tiny one room schoolhouses, frosted window panes, and the warmth and comfort of the old wood cook stove. Later memories of ice storms and miles of downed lines and the crews that worked through the days and nights to put them back up.
When the windshield starts icing up, I always remember an old timer named Lymon. I was working as a service station attendant, my first real job in life. At one time or another every person that owned a car or truck in our small community came through that service station drive. They were as different as the patches on an old country quilt. It was a good place for a seventeen-year-old to learn and observe.
Lymon drove a ragged old 1937 Chevy coupe. This day I put in his customary ten gallons of gas (at 30 cents per gallon, by the way) and started to wash the windshield. To my surprise there was a hole the size of a football right in front of the steering wheel. I inquired and Lymon told me the story. He had been in town to buy groceries and shop, but he took a little too long. A fast-moving winter storm descended and his heater and his windshield wipers didn’t work. About a mile out of town he had to stop because he couldn’t keep the ice off his wind shield. Finally in desperation he took his hammer and broke a hole in front of the steering wheel. “It worked fine,” he said. So he left it that way.
The rest of the story came later. After a “fix it or else” conversation with the local state trooper, Lymon took the old Chevy to Shorty’s Garage to have the driver’s side windshield replaced. Shorty put in a new windshield, and while he was at it he put in a new thermostat and reattached the vacuum hose to the wipers. Lymon went home happy.
Today when winter arrives and the snow blows, in my mind’s eye I can see Lymon driving down the road peering through that hole in his windshield with the ear flaps on his old cap fluttering in the breeze.
Figuratively speaking I have pulled a few Lymons. I have seen others do it, too. It is just part of living.
In the first year and a half I worked at the service station, all kinds of personalities and people came across that service station drive, the young, the old, the good, the bad, the ugly and the pretty. The pretties did not pay too much attention to me. But. . . then one day I installed a new battery for a pretty girl while she waited. I tried to make conversation. But she was not interested in talking to a guy with a toothy grin and grease smudges on his face. Several years later we began dating and she eventually became my wife. We celebrated our forty-ninth anniversary earlier this year.
We have much to be thankful for this holiday season. Best wishes and a Merry Christmas from our house to yours.