In the summer of ’63 I think it must have been the clan took a trip back to South Carolina. As usual, I don’t know why we did this. But I think there might have been a bit of a crisis in the family dealing with Grandma Tingle’s future wellbeing. But I am not sure.
That was one miserable trip, both ways. It was sweltering hot. One night we parked on the West Side of the Mississippi, right across from Memphis, I think, and the heat was just unbelievable, plus bugs, and of course we were “camping out” which meant my brother, Steve and I were sleeping in the very back of the Plymouth Station Wagon. When I was young I could go to sleep almost anytime. But I am not sure I got any sleep that night at all.
This picture was taken at Grandma Tingle’s place when we finally got back there. Off to the left, you can see the open door of the old barn and the other building back there was the smoke house, as I recollect. Things got smoked in there for later eating though I remember it mostly as having been filled with cobs of corn, or dried up corn still on the cob that was shucked off and then fed to the chickens. I recollect some sort of corn shucking device because you couldn’t get those little corns off by hand.
Actually, I do believe “shucking” corn refers to taking the green leaves or shucks off the corn. And taking the corn off the cob is called decorning and there are machines for doing that called “decorning” machines.
In the middle there of the picture is a white vehicle that was called by some in those days a “dewdrop” trailer and sometimes called a “teardrop” also. Joan and WB slept in that along with brother, Dan, I imagine who wasn’t that old then. Just three. As you will note the thing has no windows. It sweltered inside that thing. On the other hand, they had a mattress to sleep on and not hard, cold car metal. And I may be wrong but I think the back of it opened up and there was a propane stove there. So you could pull over, sleep inside the thing, and then get out, go round to the back, open it up and cook breakfast on the propane stove.
We were driving through the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, not that I knew a thing about it. Still, when we stopped for gas, WB said to the old black man who came out to operate the pump, “Fill’er up Uncle.” And the black man said, “I ain’t your uncle.” And WB just laughed as if he were laughing at a child; I didn’t like that laugh at all.
It just came to me. But when we started that trip back to SC, I can remember sitting in the back of the Station Wagon with a copy of Wilde’s “The Portrait of Dorian Gray.” It was a paper back and the cover had a picture of a young man looking into the mirror and seeing the old man version of himself. I thought that book was pretty spooky.
So I sat in the back reading Dorian Gray while we drove across the country in our 59 Plymouth station wagon pulling that darned dewdrop or teardrop trailer through the middle of the Civil Rights movement of which I was as yet unaware.