One of my earliest memories is of a Saturday morning spent with my grandfather in rural Louisiana. Rising early, he took me on a tour of the gravel pit where he worked and exposed my three-year-old mind to the wonders of the monstrous machinery whose sole purpose was turning big rocks into little rocks. Sitting in his lap as he fired up one piece of equipment after another, and pretended to let me operate them, I thought I was king of the world. But even that paled in comparison to the next part of our bonding trip.
After the machinery was put back to sleep, my grandfather drove to a small country store on the highway. Inside he greeted and was greeted by other men gathered around, holding court for the day. Pawpaw walked over to the counter, picked me up and sat me on the worn Formica top, and ordered honey buns and Barq’s root beers for both of us. With a fistful of sticky goodness and a spiced beverage to wash it down, I sat mesmerized as the older men went about their weekly ritual discussing politics, work, wives, and local happenings in the community. Occasionally one of the elder group would ask my opinion on an issue and all would acknowledge my innocent reply with chuckles and an occasional pat on the head. Never had I felt so grown up.
My grandfather passed away a decade ago. I made it to the funeral and paid my last respects to one of the male role models in my life that have passed on a particular set of values I have worked diligently to adhere to my entire life. But of all the memories of good times I shared with him, that first one is my favorite. So on a recent trip to visit my grandmother, I tracked down that old Highway Pack. It’s still there, even several hurricanes later. I went in and bought honey buns and root beer. I saw the same counter top and envisioned the time my grandfather gathered around with his peers and me. The time when he and I first bonded and he crowned me king for the day.
© 2014 G. Scott Brinkley. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.