Monday, February 18, 2008

Flashback: The 57 Chevy, the Children of God & A Bucket of Money

While out of it, I thought I'd leave this flashback for you to enjoy...P&L

1977... I learned the powers of persuasion while in the back seat of a 57 Chevy in a Food Lion parking lot.
That year, like many others, had been a rough one for my family. But, as usual, in My World, things weren't so bad.

Dad would often be MIA, as he was hitting the bottle pretty hard, was still having a difficult time landing a job, & I think was in general overwhelmed with the curved balls life had thrown at him. Two sons having seizures, one with diabetes, one with Down's Syndrome & seemingly unsurmountable financial woes. Our most valuable blessings in life often carry the greatest risk & cost, be it financial, emotional &/or spiritual. For most parents, I believe their greatest asset is their children.

Anyway, Dad was MIA & Mom was heading the household. My oldest sister was 19 & had moved up & out, which left Mom with only 4 of us, when the sh*t hit the fan in her parents family. That has no relevance, other than the fact that my Mother had to leave town unexpectantly with nothing more than a penny and a prayer for an undetermined amount of time. She had no choice but to call upon my oldest sister to tend to the rest of us...which she did.

After spending a day or two at the house, she quickly realized we needed food. No skimping on the right foods allowed when there is a fragile juvenile diabetic kid in the mix. Bless her heart. She was able to get a fifty dollar cash advance from her boss & with that she loaded all of us up in the '57 Chevy & off to Food Lion we went. Every item had to evaluated & re-evaluated before it made it's way into our buggy. Some things gots put back.

I remember shopping with Mom, we felt good to average 10 dollars a bag (they were a
ll paper bags in that era). My dear sister managed to average about 5 dollars a bag and as I calculated this in my head as we were checking out, I became quite excited about how well we were doing on our shopping excursion. Meanwhile, my diabetic brother was getting excited about the sheer volume of food & my youngest brother, who has the Down's Syndrome, began to get stressed with all of our excitement. When he would get stressed, he would often hit himself or begin to smash his head into his surroundings, be it a wall, the floor or what have you.

As he began to take position, indian style on the floor of the Food Lion, to begin the ritual of crushing his forehead into the tile, my eldest sister scooped him up & put him in the vacant buggy. As the cashier was still ringing & the bag boy was quickly bagging, she frantically pulled the fifty dollar bill out of her bell bottom blues' hip pocket & passed it to my middle sister...advising her that she was taking us on out to the car, along with half of the groceries already bagged.

Out we went into the glorious sunlight. We had four or five bags of groceries already & more on the way. About half way to the car, we were approached by a young man, sporting some kind of beanie cap & toting a silver bucket on each hip. One bucket was filled with beautiful flowers & the other with a great mystery, which I would later discover. He pulled a flower from his bucket and was trying to hand it to my sister. She thanked him and politely rejected his offering. He advised us that it was a gift because she was a child of God. As she was encouraging my older brother to 'just get in' the car, I could sense her irritability growing & I didn't understand why.
This man had the greatest job ever...standing on street corners in the beautiful daylight passing out pieces of God's works of art, flowers...for free! Whew, that's what I wanted to do when I grew up...much better than being indoors all day!

As my sister was trying to pull my 5 year old baby brother from the kid section of the buggy, I accepted a flower from the beanie wearing, peace-loving flower child of God. I wanted to be a gracious Child of God. No sooner had she gotten my little brother secured in the center section of the '57 Chevy's back seat, when things changed. The air of love that had emitted from this fellow turned into an evil eye.

As my sister pulled herself back out of the back seat, he was telling her that he was due a ten dollar contribution.
She was livid...'what for?,' she popped.

He pointed at me. Nose to the rose, I recoiled... just in time for big sis to yank it from my hands & hurl it back at him. 'Here! You take this rose back!'
He shamed my sister, pointing out that we had several bags of groceries and a running vehicle while people were literally starving to death around the world. My little brother began to rock backwards & forwards in the car. If the tensions continued to rise, soon he would be in another fit.
The Giver of Gods gifts & my sister were blocking my entrance into the car and I could see my other sister now exiting the store with her buggy of groceries. I pointed her out to my Big Sis and she yelled for her to 'Hurry Up.' About then, this Giver of God's Gifts began his approach towards her, along with her buggy of food. As she buggied towards the car, not knowing what was going on, both my sister & the Giver, were racing towards her. My 19 year old sister was yelling 'You leave her alone, she is just a child. She has no donation for you!'

That kind of teed me off. She was not being selfish... we did not have ten dollars. Yes, we had groceries, but they were on borrowed dollars & we needed them...there were no twinkies, no cereals, no sweet treats in our bags. We had oil, flour, sugar, bread, milk, eggs, pasta etc and we didn't know how long we would have to make them last. Ugh, I got into the car with my brothers, as my two sisters continued to move the remaining bags into the trunk & the Giver continued to berate my sisters for our ungodly, self-serving ways.

My door was still open, as we were in Central Florida & it was hot & I was beginning to get scared...Chanty boy was quickly entering an autistic fit & my older brother was having an increasingly difficult time easing him. My little brother was talking between his two hands, rocking in place and making the croaking sound of a frog. a sign of things to come. As my middle sister jumped in shotgun, barking at me to close my door, my eldest sister took a final position with this Giver of God's Gifts.
In an almost subdued voice, leaning across me to check my little brothers belt & brush his hair back, she said 'Lemme ask you something Sir.'
He s
aid 'Yes?' as she pulled back out & began to close my door.
She said 'Just exactly where do your donations go?'
He quickly replied 'to Gods Children.'
With that she quite emphatically responded, 'Gods Children!? Gods Children?!'
Before I could blink she had grabbed his smaller silver bucket and tossed it into the back seat with us...Oh My! It was filled with money! She said 'Thank you so much! You see, I have Gods Children right here in the back seat of my '57 Chevy!' She ,now, was tossing his bucket of flowers in through the window.

He was speechless and dumb-founded, frantically trying to reach through the window to retrieve his goodies.
She barked at him 'YOU?! Not giving to Gods Children! You should be ashame
d!?' Her words! They mirrored this man's words from just moments before.

I continued to roll my window up on this scary man & for a moment he seemed stunned by her words. She jumped in the drivers' seat, slamming the door shut. Before I knew it, the good ole '57 Chevy was cranked & rolling, with him running alongside us, through the Food Lion parking lot, smashing his palms against my window.
I was terrified, shocked, proud, excited and confused. As we had to stop before pulling out onto the road, my sister said 'Honey- quickly roll down the window & throw his stuff back out to him when I stop.'
I protested, telling her that there was money...dollar bills. She said 'Yes, Darlin' I know, but RE
ALLY it's NOT ours and we don't need it. It's dirty money! We're all together & we'll be OK, really.'
As we stopped, I frantically crammed everything out the window. Seeing the bucket of change & bills spill onto the hot pavement didn't bother me so much, as seeing that man stepping all over those beautiful flowers to pick his money up.


singleton said...

Oh, sweetie,just like before, reading these words, I can still see your eyes, wide and waiting, still see Chanty's pudgy little even steven fingers talking, yacking, taking fit. Can feel the magnificent heat baking us, cooking us in that parking if it were yesterday....
peace~love little one,
we've been workin' on it a lifetime

Orhan Kahn said...

Would love to see a bigger version of that family picture, you all look so welcoming and homely.

As for your mother, she is a pretty cool chick. I can see where the meaning and voice in the family came from.

Much love, Paiger. Mwa.


Relating to so much of this story!

Although the chevy in my life was a '55.
I also have a hero big sister,,and feel sad for those that don't. She took care of us a lot while the folks worked, and held tight to my hand while running past witches in the dark.
Four sisters with the ten year span. We grew memories then and we grow 'em still,,, and sometimes now with Twinkies.
GREAT story Skinny,,,I was almost hoping she let you keep the dirty silver treasure.

I take it you are not well,,,,here's a get better soon hug.


Shrinky said...

Oh Lord, what a brilliant big 'sis you were blessed with! As you know, I can relate to your story on many levels. Hope all is well with you, sweet lady.

ps. I'm back - new site. x

Mel said...

Still a wonderful story, wonderfully that speaks volumes to all that you are, all that contributed to the wonderful you that you ARE.

(((((((( SLB )))))))))))

Be safe, and well in your journeys!

Anonymous said...

Good work, Sis!
I bet that guy gave up on begging for Krishna and got a real job after that.
I love your family's strength.


P.S. I deleted my blog that's why I'm anonymous again.

Slip said...

Growing up without a lot of money has nothing to do with being poor.....
There are people with millions that are truly poor.....
I had a '57 Chevy ragtop as a teenager, sure would be nice to have today....

skinnylittleblonde said...

Singleton...Hahahaha, I was so proud of you. As a kid, I was like 'How'd she know that guy with the nice flowers would turn out to be not-so-nice?'

Orhan...the pic definitely reflects the era. And yes, our mother is awesome.

Wilsonsart...We are truly blessed with the women in our world. My sisters & I span just over 10 years as well & I cannot imagine life without them. Nothing quite like sisterly love. TY for the healthy well-wishes... nothing antibiotics & rest won't cure!

Shrinky...I have missed you! Ventured to old site & got nowhere, so I will definitely have to follow the trail you leave this time!, if you could have heard the defiance in my sisters voice & seen all those beautiful flowers on the ground, it would be forever etched in your memory too. ty, p&l

Dana...I noticed that, actually some time ago, you deleted your blog :( I wonder what happened to him. In the 70's there were so many folks 'giving away' flowers on the street & bibles at the airports...I wonder, where are they now & what do they do?

Slip...You are absolutely correct. I hope I didn't say anywhere in that post that we were poor. Broke, at times, but never poor. There is a fellow in town that has several Chevy models from the 50's in his side yard. I imagine, he too had one as a teen. They had something cars today don't have...head & leg room!

singleton said... you remember makin' the trip to the beach round the same time....we got stopped about 5miles outa town.....No inspection sticker.....The cop looks in the back seat and flags me on......We got stopped again, almost there.....The officer pokes his head in, the 57's headliner hangin' like a canopy....and Chanty Boy croaks him once....he flags us on.....We pull into the 7-11 on the way home, I park the baby, run into get 39 cent icees for you wilted babies in the back seat and come out and the new Cop on the block is writing me a ticket......Remember what happened next? That would be how I came to meet the Chief of Police at our front door .....ummmmmmmmmmm, for evading a police officer? I can still remember your sweaty little smile in the rear view mirror, in the middle, sippin' that Coke a Cola icee, and the blue lights following.....Good Lord, child, we were a damned determined lot!

skinnylittleblonde said...

Lol, I remember the rusty roof after the liner came out & the floorboard that was so rusted out we would throw collapsed cardboard boxes down there to keep the gravel & rainwater from spittin' back up in our faces & laps. Lol, oh and yeah, flapping our arms out the window every time we had to fly to the hospital... oh, the stories that car could tell!

singleton said...

funny, slb, but I think that little green machine is still out there purring, revving her engine, doing her our little black Wilsonarts Mother of the Bride outfit....Living on! When she finally died, belly up in the driveway, when I didn't have a dime to turn her over, the man that came to fetch her, drove from South Carolina to Florida in a day, sight unseen to take her rusty little soul home with him....already loved her....And well, we all know,
Love grows......

skinnylittleblonde said...

Lol...I wouldn't be surprised if she was sitting in that man's sideyard here in town...He has two or three garages that he has added on to to acommodate all of his Chevies. I have heard that he doesn't show them, just collects them & he doesn't usually mind if someone taps on his door as long as they simply want to look.


Oh Girls, I'm sure she's in Chevyheaven,,,along with my '55.

Tires still spinnin',,,,,,with those Coka Cola stains evidence of the love!

All these stories,,,taking me there again,,,,please don't ever stop!

Mel said...


Likin' the boots LOTS....and the new look at the top.

*hugs and feel betters*

karma lennon said...

Wow, just wow. Crazy story! Glad you had such a smart big sister! I just don't like people like that...speaking of God's love whilst being full of hate and spite...I'd rather be pagan and full of love than that.

P.S. We still on for the 14th???

SpongyBones said...

Got to love the big sisters. I will tell you more later. Love the boots blondie!

skinnylittleblonde said...

Babs...Lol, they just don't make cars like they used to! Those old babies could fit seven kids, side by sweaty side, in the backseat, four in the front & a large dog had room to hang in the floorboard area!

(((MEL))) TY. Love them boots, but have only had time to get 'em out one time about two weeks ago! Soon though ... soon...

Karma...Big sis was definitely full of spit & fire, which she balanced with fair peace & love quite well, I thought. Oh, and I am very much planning on the fourteenth...did you check out the link?

Spongy...yes! fill me in! Even though they weren't the boots you voted on, I knew you'd like them since they have flames on the toes ;)

Shimmerrings said...

Beautifully wild and vivid memories...

Scott from Oregon said...

I loved this story the first time around!

singleton said...

Funny, but we were smart girls back then.....
riding in smart cars.....
Times have changed,
but we haven't......
"seeing the bucket of change and bills spill onto the hot pavement didn't bother me so much, as seeing that man stepping all over the beautiful flowers to pick his money up"
peace~love sister child

skinnylittleblonde said...

Shimmerings... it seems like it was just a month ago.

Scott ... Funny, we I reposted this, I thought of you.

Karma...Lol Maybe we should leave on the 13th so we can make it there on by the 14th as I'm lousy w/ directions too! We'll just have to follow the crescent moon & the pixie dust! ;) PLS&F

Sister Singleton...Lawdy, do I love you !?! Yeah, times have changed but in a twisted way 'everything remains the same'... 'what is & what should never be.'

Hammer said...

As a 70's kid myself I quickly found out that the flower children weren't all they were cracked up to be.

Great story. I would have donated his money somewhere else :)