My life story could not be told without Sears & Roebuck

“My dad’s idea of a good time is to go to Sears and look around.” —Jay Leno

I’m not sure that looking around at Sears ever scored any treasures, but rummaging around antique shops for treasures or memories and finding a 1970 Sears catalog at Nettie’s Nook in Center, Texas, a couple of weeks ago was some of both.

The treasure was expanding my catalog collection to three adding to my 1966 Winter Sale and 1955 Summer Sale catalog. The pièce de résistance will be a copy of the Sears “Christmas Wish Book.”

On the memories side, anyone who remembers spending hours with the “Wish Book” trying to decide what you wanted Santa to bring, raise your hand. Yep, just as I suspected. Those hands in the air belong to those of us who are a little more “experienced” in life while the younger hands are busy scratching heads. “Wish Book?”

The once retail and mail order giant whose obituary was finalized as 2018 ended will apparently survive to fight another day, albeit different from the business those of us with our hands in the air grew up with.

Sears cameraMy life story could not be told without mention of the chain of department stores founded by Richard Warren Sears and Alvah Curtis Roebuck in 1893. Thanks to my grandmother, I was in the first grade before I learned that I wasn’t sourced from the iconic catalog. Granny always referred to the catalog company as Sears’s which she pronounced “searz · iz.” By whatever name, even at a young age, I knew it was time to straighten up and fly right when she said, “You better mind me or I’m gonna send you back to Sears’s!”

That threat spoke volumes about the retailer’s role in small-town life in the 20th Century. First, Sears was more than a store, it was a way of life. The variety of goods and services available for ordering was the ultimate marketplace, much like Amazon is today. Find it in the catalog, fill out the order blank, and mail it off to the Chicago-based company along with your check or money order. Within a couple of weeks, your anticipated package was on your doorstep or at the local store.

Also, if the Sears Easy Payment Plan didn’t close the sale, the Sears Guarantee printed in every catalog would: “If for any reason you are not satisfied with any article purchased from us, we want you to return it to us at our expense.”

Most of my grade-school shirts that Mom and Granny didn’t make came from Sears advertised for 84¢ in the Summer Sale catalog when ordered in lots of six.

In junior high when I was certain I would be scarred for life if I didn’t have a motor scooter, the Cushman Allstate advertised at $229 in the Winter Sale catalog was my dream.

Sears tires

My first car in high school ran on tires: $41 for a set of four and batteries that sold for $10.45 ordered today and picked up next Tuesday at Sears in Mount Pleasant, Texas.

My son, Lee, who is celebrating his 39th birthday the same day I am writing this, was already an ardent angler at age 10 when he fished Lake Murvaul in a small boat from Sears ordered from the Center, Texas, “catalog store” on Shelbyville Street for $184.95.

After a 97-year-history, Sears big-book catalogs disappeared in 1993. Only the Wish Book endured in smaller versions. It has randomly reappeared since, but nothing resembling the holiday tradition treasured by generations of children looking forward to Christmas morning.

I miss the Sears catalog. And while I did eventually see Chicago, fortunately, it was on my terms and not with Granny exercising the Sears return policy.

—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune, the Taylor, Texas, Press, the Alpine, Texas, Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

One little word can float your boat or sink your ship

“It’s only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away.”
—Song lyrics by The Bee Gees 1967

Having been a lover of words and a writer of one persuasion or another all my life, I tend to get fired up over words and the power they possess. There is gratification in choosing the right words and assembling them in the right order to create precise and effective communication. Yep, I’m a word nerd and that’s why my eagerly awaited Merriam-Webster (M-W) vocabulary word builder email can very often fuel that fire into a frenzy.

The M-W topic one day last week was about correctly choosing the word “boat” or “ship” to accurately describe a specific variety of watercraft and recognizing the defining characteristics of each to make the right choice. After polling a fleet of knowledgeable sources for definitions that have been floated on the topic, the final analysis was that most of them lack the exacting language a dictionary is expected to contain.

One of the more thought-provoking examples was, “You can put a boat onto a ship, but you can’t put a ship onto a boat.” Another was, “A boat is what you get into when the ship sinks.” My personal favorite was, “a boat is a dish you put the gravy in.”

Discussion docked at the conclusion that terminology more specific than “ships are bigger than boats,” was yet to be put into words. I’m thinking this confusion could be clarified with a quick note to my seafaring friend, Jim Chionsini, who could easily chart a course to the right conclusion.

Sailing on to smoother water, M-W succinctly stated in another article that, “The English language never sleeps, and neither does the dictionary.” Noting new words added by the 191-year-old company’s vocabulary volumes as of April of 2019, M-W stated, “a dictionary is a work in progress and reflects the shifts in culture and communication.” That is something of which every wordsmith worth his or her weight in words is keenly aware. And, if there’s anything that will spark more vigorous conversation among writers than determining which word is the best choice, it might be debating the use, or sometimes the usefulness, of new additions to the dictionary.

Some changes for April included, “snowflake” declaring it something other than simply frozen precipitation. The word has been bantered about in the media so much that it has now been branded as “someone regarded or treated as unique or special” and “someone who is overly sensitive.”

The same goes for poor “purple” which is no longer seen as just one of the 64 happy Crayon colors in the big box with the built-in sharpener I coveted as a kid. It’s now officially defined as a reference to “geographical areas where voters are split between Democrats and Republicans.”

Even Goldilocks’ picky porridge sampling in the classic story about her encounter with the three bears has made her name a metaphor that astronomers use to describe as “an area of planetary orbit in which temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold to support life.”

Whether it’s the freshly-minted words or those new definitions asserted to some old familiar faces, shifts in culture and communication can keep a wordsmith busy by day searching for the right definition and awake at night evaluating connotations within society. After all, the choice of one little word for your next literary masterpiece just might be the difference in whether you float your boat or sink your ship.

I used to worry that with my luck, my ship would finally come in on a day when I was at the airport. I’ve decided there’s no need to fret about it, though. As the song goes, “It’s only words …” And, the meaning of those words will likely have changed by the time my ship comes in anyway. Or, is it my boat?

—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune, the Taylor, Texas, Press, the Alpine, Texas, Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What’s needed most is a sense of humor

“Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.”—Will Rogers

That humorous view by one of the country’s wittiest philosophers of the last hundred years is funnier today considering both groups are a joke that can’t be taken seriously. All at a time when what society needs most is a sense of humor.

Apparently, things are not funny out in California at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area where dune buggies have enjoyed the sand ever since a guy named Miller is said to have invented the first sand buggy in the 1930s. Residents building homes near there in the last 15 years now claim “particulate dust” and excessive noise from the recreational vehicles is deteriorating the sand’s natural crust that permits vegetation to grow on the dunes. The dune buggy crowds disagree, they say it’s a natural occurrence.

 

Pismo duens 1967
Two buggies meet in the Pismo Beach sand dunes – Summer 1967

Me, I’m just enjoying memories of that same sand when it was called Pismo Beach in the summer of ’67 between college semesters. It was a summer of muscle cars, hot rods, Beach Boys on the radio, bikinis on the beach at Malibu, surfboards, and dune buggy weekends at Pismo— a summer like nothing I had experienced in my 19 years in Texas.

 

Mom’s younger brother, my Uncle Bill, was one of several San Fernando Valley area Volkswagen body shop managers who built and enjoyed dune buggies—a VW chassis, motor, roll bar and seats with farm implement tires on the rear to dig into the sand. Uncle Bill was also my summer host and my employer.

After the three-hour Saturday trek up Highway 101 north to Pismo, camp was set up on the beach before hours of challenging the sand commenced. Charging up dunes slowing just enough for the front wheels (or sometimes all four) to become airborne before coming back to earth on the other side was a test of man and machine. Not to mention a lot of fun.

Pismo buggy 1967Memories were made where fun prevailed and a sense of humor was standard fare. Perhaps the biggest jokester was Ralph, the seasoned veteran painter in Uncle Bill’s shop who taught me how to paint a car. He was a bit crusty, if anything, but a magician with a paint gun who imparted skills to me I parlayed into a job back in Texas to pay for my education.

Ralph’s finest moment had to be the flag incident. Buggies were fitted with “whip antennas” topped with brightly-colored flags designed for visibility from the other side of a dune when two buggies were coming up opposite sides.

 

Ralph’s new flag that weekend was noticeably … different. “Where’d you get that flag, Ralph,” someone asked. In his gruff tone, he responded with a smile, “Ladies department at the dry goods store—the biggest one they had.” The unique design of Ralph’s “double-barrel” flag combined with the emergency orange paint job he applied to the device emphasized its size so that no one missed it.

The first trip out that weekend, however, Ralph came roaring back into camp where someone pointed out that his flag was missing. Visually confirming the flag’s absence, he lamented that maybe he didn’t fasten it securely enough. Then he started chuckling before finally laughing out loud.

“What’s so funny,” Uncle Bill asked.

“I’m thinking about the poor guy who found it,” Ralph laughed. “He’s probably still out there running the dunes with a big smile, trying to find the woman who lost it.”

With politicians who are jokes, comedians who are too political to be funny, and squabbles over the use of public land, seems to me that more folks with a sense of humor like Ralph’s are sorely needed.

—Leon Aldridge

(Photo at top of the page by “Uncle Bill” Johnson at Pismo Beach, California in the summer of 1967. Dune buggy driver is yours truly and the passenger is Ronnie Lilly, my friend and MPHS classmate who made the memorable summer trip to California with me.)

Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas Light and Championthe Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune, the Taylor, Texas, Press, the Alpine, Texas, Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Walking through centuries of architecture and art

 

“I love Paris in the springtime.
I love Paris in the fall.”
—song lyrics by Cole Porter

Recognizing places I’ve visited watching a movie or a news story always evokes a memory—that is to say places at least four counties removed from Center, Texas. News reports of the fire at the Notre Dame cathedral a couple of weeks ago, while disturbing, reminded me of Paris: the city I came to love some years ago.

By the way, Cole, I was there in the fall.

History damaged or destroyed is always saddening. Seeing severely damaged Antebellum homes after the Mississippi and Louisiana hurricanes a few years ago was heartbreaking. Worse were the sites where little more than brick piers or a few timbers were the only reminders of magnificent homes that had stood since Civil War days.

I’m glad Notre Dame survived and will be restored.

Documented in hundreds of Kodachrome slides stored somewhere are Paris memories from 30-plus years ago. Things like spectacular skylines at night surrounding the Eiffel Tower, renown restaurants, music, and entertainment. And recollections of strolls along the Seine that were as romantic as I had envisioned them. But seeing Notre Dame sitting on a small island in the middle of the Seine was especially moving, particularly for an East Texas country boy who considered Paris, Texas, a pretty impressive sight.

Notre Dame was impressive, but my small-town East Texas upbringing was again exposed when I confessed that the historic structure reminded me of scenes from the movie, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” the 1939 version with Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Hara. Maybe it was the fact that as a kid, I was addicted to the old monster movies. Granted, the story is more romanticism than horror. However, to an 8-year-old, the black-and-white Hunchback character, Quasimodo, closely enough resembled the mummy and Frankenstein that it too kept me awake at night making sure there was nothing under my bed to go bump in the night.

Walking through Notre Dame where Charles Laughton’s character had once shuffled during the filming of the classic movie was breathtaking for its history as well. Realization that construction was started more than 850 years ago puts the relatively short time of our own life span into a new perspective. With luck and a few blessings, we get short of 100 years here. And for most like me, little will be recorded other than a few memories and pictures relatives keep in a cedar chest.

But the massive cathedrals representing centuries of labor displaying furniture, paintings, sculptures, and documents represent more generations than a family-tree website can fathom. Who visited or worshipped here in the centuries it has been standing? What world events transpired during eons of time long before Columbus discovered the New World?

Placed in terms of centuries, time spent walking where figures of ancient history walked becomes a sobering experience.

Also sobering was visiting the Louvre, the world’s largest art museum established in 1793, in awe of masterpieces such as Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa, and Winged Victory. Also remembered is meeting the only remaining authority at that time on the works of French artist Edward Cortez in hopes of verifying a Cortez painting I owned. Looking back, it’s more than sobering to think that I found her house with just a street map by walking from the hotel and riding the subway in one of the largest cities in the world.

The adventurous trek, however, afforded me a view of Paris not many tourists see.

Speaking of seeing, where are those slides? I need them digitized … while I can still see the pictures and tell stories about how I loved Paris in the fall.

—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas Light and Champion,the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune, the Taylor, Texas, Press, the Alpine, Texas, Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

A life and a living doing things ‘the right way’

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill

In search of a living, I entered journalism through the front door of The (Naples, Texas) Monitor. The list of mentors I would accumulate started with Morris Craig, editor and publisher of The Monitor then, and today.

I had been there just long enough to learn how to spell journalism when Craig (that’s what everyone except his mother and his first-grade teacher called him) sent me up north of Dallas to accept North and East Texas Press Association (NETPA) awards for The Monitor. I’d like to tell you where it was but that has been some 45 years and many conventions ago.

Where ever it was, that’s where I met several newspaper professionals who I would not only come to consider mentors for journalism “the right way,” but also friends. People like Roy Eaton at the Decatur Wise County Messenger, Bob Hamilton at The Iowa Park Leader, Dick White at The Pittsburg Gazette, and others whose names will come to me probably right after this piece is printed.

I knew one person in the room that day, Dick White. He and my father were both graduates of Pittsburg (Texas) High School: dad Class of ’41, Mr. White class of ’42. Childhood summers at my grandparents in Pittsburg left me with memories of the Gazette office where Granny took me when she placed classified ads or bought extra papers for friends or family.

Memories of strawberry ice cream cones at Lockett’s Drug Store next door rank right up there with Mr. White’s personal attention to customers whether for 10-cent newspapers or 25-cent classified ads.

Following The Monitor and a stint at the Many, Louisiana, Sabine News, I decided purchasing a community newspaper was next. Desiring to locate near my Mount Pleasant hometown, my first stop was dad’s friend and my press association mentor, Mr. White in Pittsburg.

Sporting my new blue leisure suit and tie wide enough for billboard space, I entered the Gazette office one Saturday morning where Mr. White listened intently to my thoughts about how my “background and knowledge” had not only convinced me community newspapers was where I belonged but also compelled me to join the ranks of newspaper ownership.

Hearing my passionate presentation, he followed with his respect for my insight, research, and planning while adding questions about methods of operation, goals for the future, and my thoughts on what was to come for newspapers.

After a long, enlightening, and enjoyable visit, he thanked me for considering The Gazette as an acquisition but told me, almost apologetically, that he was not quite ready to sell yet. He promised, however, when that day came, I would be his first call.

Fast forward from the 70s into the mid-1980s when I was serving as publisher of the Light and Champion in Center, Texas, held ownership interests in a small group of newspapers and was about to become president of NETPA. That additional time and experience had taught me how little I actually knew the day I asked Mr. White to sell me his paper. It also taught me that he probably knew that the day he politely listened to me before graciously saying he just wasn’t ready to sell. Time had also changed both of his thoughts on selling when he called to tell me that he had a good offer for The Gazette but wanted to give me the first right of refusal as he had promised he would years before.

Thanking him profusely, I told him that I had a great opportunity where I was and added again before we ended our conversation that I really appreciated his call. It’s rare when people say things like that then actually follow through on it years later when the time comes. But, that’s just the kind of guy he was.

“Thomas Richard (‘Dick’) White, loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather died peacefully on April 6, 2019. Dick’s life showed devotion to God, family, friends, community, and country,” his obituary in The Gazette begins.

The Gazette was Mr. White’s living, but the innumerable stories like mine, what he gave to people like me, and devoted to community journalism “the right way” was his life and is his legacy.

—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune, the Taylor, Texas, Press, the Alpine, Texas, Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Have I been overlooking a third fix-it essential

“Holding things together
Ain’t no easy thing to do
.”
—song lyrics by Merle Haggard

As an old car tinkerer and household repair artist, employing WD-40  and duct tape to fix just about anything is a regular routine. However, I’m thinking that I may have been overlooking a third fix-it essential that performs miracles when it comes to holding things together.

Last week, one of the earpieces on my glasses felt loose. I didn’t spend time fretting knowing that I had an eye exam on Monday. “Yep,” the optician confirmed. “It’s broken and hanging by a thread.” An order for new frames came with the warning, “Better baby those until we get the new ones.”

Guess I’m out of practice when it comes to babying. Three days later, I found myself holding the ailing earpiece in one hand and the rest of my glasses in the other. Hoping for a miracle in my workshop, I became reacquainted with an old friend akin to the WD-40  and duct tape family: J-B Weld. J-B Weld and I go way back. It’s true what they say about how the unique epoxy will fix anything but a broken heart.

Our relationship started not with a broken heart, but with a broken 1946 Chevrolet panel truck that served as the emergency service vehicle for Mount Pleasant Explorer Scout Post 206 in high school. The vehicle aided our scouting organization’s effort to assist police and fire department personnel with directing traffic at wrecks and fighting grass fires. H.O. Townsend’s father was the advisor and a father with an interest in helping guide young men in a positive direction.

Taking a positive direction with the old truck, we liberally applied white paint to every inch of the interior and painted the outside “emergency orange” with the help of a local body shop after which “Explorer Post 206, Mount Pleasant, Texas, Emergency Service” was artistically added to the sides by a local sign painter donating his skills.

The wrecking yard refugee looked good and was reliable, but was not swift. At full throttle, the big orange truck rumbled along faster than a heard of turtles in a cloud of snail dust while leaking a variety of fluids along the way. And there was that thing about the transmission jumping out of high gear. We soon learned that getting to a fire before it burned out on its own required a two-man team: a driver and someone to hold the floor-mounted shift lever in gear.

Seeking more speed, we pulled the head off the stove bolt six-cylinder motor hoping to freshen up the valves. In the process, we also solved part of the fluid leak mystery, the one about where that water puddle was coming from. With the manifolds removed, a hairline crack in the block was clearly visible. Popular opinion was the busted block was not fixable: we would need a new motor.

Cash was scarce and new was not in the vocabulary, but creativity was abundant. We cleaned the area around the crack and applied a liberal dose of the magical J-B Weld epoxy. Once the engine was back together, we filled the radiator, crossed our fingers, and fired up the old Chevy letting it run long enough to get hot before we ventured off farther than we could push it if the repair failed. Our gamble paid off; at least one leak was long gone.

We continued to operate the noble steed until the majority of us graduated from high school and moved on the next phase of solving life’s problems. Last word was that Bobby Joe Spearman bought it for parts. He already had one like it that was his father’s plumbing business service vehicle for many years.

When we sold the truck, the J-B Weld repair was still doing its job, and I’m happy to report several decades removed from the Explorer Post engine experience that the fix-it compound has once again solved one of my life’s problems. As I type this missive, I’m four days into looking through salvaged spectacles. It’s not a broken heart, but JB-Weld is still holding things together.

—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune, the Taylor Press, the Alpine Avalanche.

 

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

No rainy day roads, just a cup of coffee at home

Born in Detroit City back in ’51
She still looks pretty and she’s loads of fun
Through thick and thin she’s been my only one
It’s my Crown Victoria Custom ’51
—”Crown Victoria Custom ‘51” lyrics – performed by Jerry Lee Lewis

Oil-OK. Tires-check. Coolant-perfect. Can’t be too cautious when heading out on a 250-mile road trip to cover in one day.

At least that was the plan. My columns are penned a week in advance to meet multiple deadlines, and we all know how East Texas weather can change in a day’s time. Give Mother Nature a whole week and an entire season can come and go.

I had planned to lead today’s post with, “If you are reading this week’s column on Saturday, Miss Vicky and I are on the road participating in the annual Highway 271 Cruise in Northeast Texas.” Instead, I’m savoring coffee this morning watching the dark clouds roll in and Miss Vicky is still slumbering out in the garage.

With Saturday’s 70 to 80-percent chance of rain across East Texas looming in the forecast all week, the event’s organizers opted Thursday to pull the plug for this week and reschedule in hopes of dryer forecasts on a future weekend. Rain is no stranger to the Highway 271 Cruise. In fact, much of last year’s event was driving in the rain.

Old cars are not allergic to rainy road trips, they are just not as much fun to drive and harder to clean up afterward. Plus, it cuts down on the crowds coming out to enjoy them in the participating cities which is the main focus of the chambers of commerce in the cities along the way.

Vicky and I were ready, however. Everything was checked, prepared and ready to roll. Inspecting everything on the car used to be standard preparation for even a short 1950s road trip. But today? Trips of 1,000 miles or more are started without a second thought checking only the fuel gauge and the cup holders.

Before Vicky (she’s my 1955 Ford Crown Victoria by the way – not a ’51 as the one Jerry Lee croons about) and I head out whenever the cruise is rescheduled, the checklist will be thorough. We’ve made trips together in the past including this one, but neither one of us is getting any younger.

While the event is only 45 miles long, she and I will travel 120 miles just getting to the starting point in Mount Pleasant. Stops along U.S. 271 include Pittsburg and Gilmer before the rolling car show arrives in Gladewater at 2:30 p.m. Each city offers culinary treats for the classic car cruisers and a 90-minute downtown mini-car show for the local citizens. At 4:00 p.m. it’s over and everyone departs Gladewater heading for home which for Vicky and me will be another 81-mile journey. By the time we return late Saturday, Vicky will have another 250 miles on her ticker.

But that’s no hill for a stepper as my friend Oscar used to say. I am not privileged to know everywhere Vicky has ventured in her 64 years on the road. All old cars have their secrets. I do know she came down from Arkansas in 1984 spending 28-years in Bossier City where she received a complete restoration before crossing the Red River to her new home in Center.

Having earned a driver’s license in 1964, I could use a restoration myself. Highlights on my road trip adventures involving vintage vehicles includes two trips to Daytona Beach, Florida in a ’56 Thunderbird and one from Chicago to Center in a ’65 Chevelle Malibu SS that was fresh out of storage in Iowa: 950 miles in 21 hours non-stop.

That trip crossed my mind last November driving home from the Corvette and Muscle Car Nationals car show in the Windy City. I didn’t set out to do a repeat non-stopper, it just turned out that way. The difference was that the original in the classic Malibu was an adventure whereas last year’s trip was a boring snoozer in a new but bland “looks like everything else on the road” styling econobox loaded with computers and auto everything.

Way before look-alikes loaded with computers and auto everything, there was also a trip I made from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Mount Pleasant and back in a 1965 Mustang …that one all in one long day, too. But, that’s a whole ‘nother story worth telling.

Oh, and let’s not forget cruising a ’69 Olds Cutlass W-31 muscle car purchased in Mount Airy, Georgia halfway back to Texas before unidentified noises spooked me into renting a truck and trailer to finish the trip home.

Whatever Saturday it happens, the Highway 271 Cruise will not be without its strange noises. After Vicky was restored about 12 years ago, she became a garage queen. However, I do have a couple of concerns.

There’s this vibration thing like something is loose that I can’t pinpoint. Maybe I will find the source before something falls off. Also, age brings on a lot of wind noise and there’s that aggravating roar in the rear end. A transplant may be in order, but it won’t happen before Saturday.

But that’s enough about me. Vicky’s in great shape and we’re ready for some 2019 road trip fun 1950s style—with a little sunshine.

—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas Light and Champion , the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune, the Taylor Press and the Alpine Avalanche