Greetings to and welcome new friends to the East Wing.
Ever notice how the best laid plans sometimes just go away? Don’t know why that happens, it just does. And so with those best laid plans having gone to the graveyard of best laid plans, which is much like that Island of Misfit Toys, we, Johnny and me, we find ourselves here on the north side of Indianapolis and it’s not yet 8:00 AM this Saturday morning. This March 12th Saturday Morning of the bright sunshine, as we drive south on I-65.
Sitting in the East Wing darkness a short time ago, before the sun even thought ‘bout going to work for the day, my thoughts turned to today’s activity and the reason why I’m sitting here in the darkness thinking ‘bout what I’m gona be doing before the sun comes and then goes down for the day.
Indianapolis passes before us as Johnny turns on I-70 toward Columbus OH. It’s been a while since I’ve driven I-70 to school, my beloved Ohio State, but I did a lot, back in the day.
I-70 soon turns into I-265 then into I-74 as we end up headed toward Cincinnati and not going to Columbus after all. Oh well, go Buckeyes anyway. Southeast Indiana is just starting to emerge from its winter hibernation and take a step into the sunshine of spring this morning as Johnny and I pass by without anyone even noticing we were there, but we were, this bright spring morning in southeastern Indiana.
Ohio comes into view without any fanfare or hoopla. No need for fanfare or hoopla when Ohio comes into view, after all it’s been there a while, in fact, so long the newness of a new neighbor has worn off. We choose to see Downtown Cincinnati this morning. Not from a tour bus, rather from the vantage point of the interstate. Viewing the Cincinnati Charms are limited when gawking from I-75 at 75. Yet I gawk just the same, at 75 mph ya gotta gawk quick. I think I did see WKRP in Cincinnati, but not Johnny Thunder.
Almost as soon as I’m accustom to gawking the Cincinnati Charms at 75 on 75, Kentucky pops up on the other side of that big double decker steel bridge. Kentucky, a land of pretty women, bourbon whisky, friendly people, fast horses, coal mines and wildcats, those U of K Wildcats, not that other kind, Kentucky in a nut shell. I feel at home.
As always and forever, and today’s no different at all, I love this Mountain Parkway, this road to Salyersville. The Big Road. It was called that by these mountain people when it was first built. To me it’s still the Big Road, was when I’s a kid, still is. A pretty place, that Big Road.
Johnny and I are on our way to Martha’s Vineyard at Prestonsburg, “cause we’re bringing the stuff collected from our ongoing clothing drive to assist the clothing bank operated by Saint Martha Catholic Church at Prestonsburg. That’s the place I told ya ‘bout back in December, just before Christmas, Johnny and I were there. We’re going back, but this time we’ve got ‘bout 8 times more stuff. We’ve filled the Envoy plus we’re pulling an 8’ enclosed U-Haul
I’d been shipping stuff by UPS since Christmas, but decided it’s time to revisit the mountains, and besides I’ve got other business in Salyersville. Last year my sister Thelma passed away and her sons offered me my sister’s piano. A free piano , but with a catch, it must be moved by March 15th ‘cause that the agreement when the house was sold. And so we drive toward the beautiful mountains with a twofold purpose, bring some stuff and take some stuff back to the East Wing.
By mid afternoon we’re at Martha’s Vineyard. Unloading the U-Haul and all the while visiting with Father Bob Damron. He’s glad to see us, we’re glad to see him, It’s a mutual admiration society moment, we need him, he needs us. It’s one of those Baptilic things.
With our delivery having been made, we sit on the steps of Martha’s Portion, that’s the store that touches the heart of the issues of Appalachia, the cause, for which we came. 4:00 PM and the Peeps, yup, the Peeps are singing in full force. Sure didn’t expect to hear the music of the Peeps at Martha’s Vineyard.
To hear the Peeps singing in the late afternoon sunshine while sitting on the steps of Martha’s Vineyard, well, for our work today, we’ve just been paid. Paid by the simple music of the Peeps. Little frogs, those creatures of God, half the size of a quarter, ‘bout 15¢ worth.
With an ample amount of daylight left, we decide to go to Burning Fork and load the piano, the second reason for our being here in Magoffin County this delightful day in March. Oh, I almost forgot to tell ya, the temperature is 71° and no wind, just sunshine on the mountains.
We get to the location of the piano, and find much a pleasant surprise, the people who bought my sister’s house, well we know ‘em, and they know us. Know Johnny more so than me, they recognized Johnny right up. They’d just heard of me and didn’t say if what they heard was good or bad and I’s afraid to ask, so we just left it at that, me not asking and them not telling.
People we already knew are who we found at my sister’s house, I was gald. Two big boys, the size of Johnny offered to pick up the piano and put it in the U-Haul. They picked it up, but thought better of it after I explained my idea of using 4-wheel dollies to move the piano. So the piano was moved from the house on to the front porch which was almost exactly the height of the u-haul trailer.
Someone suggested John back up the trailer to the porch and we’ll load direct from the porch. When Johnny said he wasn’t too good at that backing up part an offer was made to do the job, ‘cause he’s a truck driver. And then it happened.
The Envoy was not moved 25 ft. from where is sitting when the wheels started spinning in the wet Kentucky Clay. The Envoy was put into 4-wheel drive. The only thing 4-wheel drive does in wet Kentucky Clay is ya get 4 wheels stuck instead of 2. And the mud really started flying. By the time all our efforts to un-stick the Envoy were completed I think some of the enthusiasm for loading my piano had diminished somewhat, but being good people, the boys didn’t abandon me with my piano sitting on the porch. We loaded and secured my prize for the journey to the East Wing.
By the time we were back on asphalt, Johnny’s Envoy looked like it had been mud weaseling with a wild boar and the boar won. Johnny couldn’t sleep with a dirty truck and so we headed to the Salyersville Car Wash. Takes a lot of soaking to get the clay to turn loose, once in place seems like forever locked, that wet Kentucky Clay. That same clay I think we even tracked into our hotel room last night, ‘cause Johnny said he left the mail a tip for messing up the carpet with mud. It was Johnny who washed the clay from our shoes last night. Now I’m not gona get into details here, but if ya had to wash clay from your shoes in a hotel bath room which water source would you use? Yah, Johnny did too.
I’m still trying to figure out how so much clay got on top of the truck, but it did. I had Johnny get me a big gob of that clay. Put my clay in a cup and when once dried, it’ll be as hard as a rock and I’ll sit it on top of my new piano. Forever to be called my Thelma Piano.
With the mud of Kentucky finally washed from the Envoy, Johnny could once again drive down the road without being embarrassed. Even when I pointed out that most every truck we saw was covered with the same mud, it didn’t matter, Johnny just don’t sleep good with a dirty truck.
For as long as my Sister Thelma lived at Salyersville I always wanted to attend Mass at the Saint Luke Catholic Church there at Salyersville. St Luke Catholic Church, right there at the eastern end of the Mountain Parkway, the Big Road, right there on the left side of the road just after ya cross the Licking River, at Salyersville.
Today, March 13th at 9:00 AM Johnny and I did go to Mass at St. Luke Catholic Church at Salyersville. They welcomed us as brothers in Christ. St. Luke’s is a living example of what the bible means when it talks ‘bout God’s presence in small crowds. Wanta see that in living action? Any Sunday at 9 o’clock, there at St. Luke’s at Salyersville. Just tell Father Bob that BobbyRay sent ya, he’ll make ya welcome that’s for sure.
After taking Johnny’s picture outside the church we buy the gas and turn onto the Big Road to take us home. Driving from the mountains this time I’ve got several different emotions all at the same time spinning for my attention. It’s as if all are saying “pick me” pick me”, and I can’t choose.. My oldest sister’s piano, a piano she never played. I’ll play it for her when it gets to the East Wing. Yesterday would have been my youngest sister’s birthday, had she not passed away a few days ago. I attended Mass in a Catholic Church that I’d wanted to attend for a long, long time. There’s a time for everything. It’s all part of God’s plan
Late Saturday night I read an email from a very special friend of my Sister Kay, also a friend of mine, but such a special friend of my Sister Kay. He was expressing his since of sadness of losing his most special friend and his thoughts for me and my family.
My Sister Kay’s friends an artist, who doesn’t give himself any credit for his talent, but then again he don’t see his work through the eyes of other people, only his own personal critical point of view and not from the view of the East Wing.
He’s an artist. Tom Talmage. He offered me his choice painting, I’ve seen his work. I humbled by the offer. Why of course! Someday such paintings will hang in the Office of Robert Howard Company as well as the East Wing. ‘Course Tom’s art work will have to share top billing with the ceramic chickens and Sophia The Cat. They’ll all get along in the East Wing. ‘Cause everything in the East Wing get along.
One emotion that came rushing back this weekend was playing in the mud. Hadn’t done that in a long time. Not too much good mud in Indiana. Sand or muck soil don’t really make good mud. Ya need clay if ya really wanta play in the mud. We didn’t make mud pies this time, but used to, me and my two Sisters, Sharolette and Barbara.
‘Bout 30 miles south of Cincinnati we stopped at one of those ceramic chicken stores that also sells food from time to time. Before leaving home Early Saturday morning as the sun came up, we resolved not to eat all our meals at Cracker Barrel, and we didn’t. Except one, the last meal on the road. And while I was there anyway, I bought a Ceramic Chicken Lamp. DUH! Why didn’t that surprise anybody. Also bought a pretty blouse for The She. I like buying stuff for the She, after all the She puts up with me. And I’m glad.
Stay safe in Afghanistan.
From the East Wing, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, The Big Road, Prestonsburg, Salyersville, Burning Fork & Slinging Mud, A Piano Comes Home, Saint Luke of Salyersville, Buying Chickens
I wish you well,