LOOKING UP: Finding joy in turning loose
Monday, 24 September 2012 by Joe Baisden
When I was a little boy, living in the rural area near Ennis, Texas, I vaguely remember having a hand-me-down tricycle. Since there never were any siblings for me in our family, the trike had to have come from some other source in the community.
Dad ran a country store in those days before World War II, and the space for riding the vehicle was very limited—the small concrete area in front of the store.
In the fall of 1942, Dad loaded my mom and me into the two-door 1934 Chevrolet sedan he had bought used for $125 and headed for Minneapolis, Minn. The remaining space in the car was given to household goods for apartment living while Dad went to school for nine months at the Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis, then for three more months at the Rock Island Arsenal at Moline, Ill. - all in preparation for civil service employment at what was then Camp Hood, Texas. The tricycle did not make the trip.
By the time we arrived in Hood Village on the Camp Hood reservation, I was beyond tricycle age. Eventually, a bicycle was purchased, but it was stashed at my grandparents' house in Ellis County, reserved for riding only on visits to what my parents called "up home."
Freedom to ride in my own neighborhood came when we moved into Killeen in 1948. Our part of North Second Street was gravel, but Dunn Street, a few blocks away was paved. We neighborhood kids loved to ride on what we called the "tar street" where it was smooth.
Before those bicycle years, my dream was to have a pedal car. I spent hours creating a play like situation with a large plate from Mom's cabinet and other props to simulate a car that only took me down imaginary roads. The pedal cars had a real steering wheel.
Circumstances never permitted the fulfillment of the pedal car dream for me, but when Janelle and I moved our family from Washington, D. C., to the wide-open spaces of Abilene, Texas, in the mid-60s, pedal cars were purchased for our two preschoolers. Donnie's was a red fire chief's car and Jane Anne's was a facsimile Ford Mustang. At last pedal cars were in the family.
We had not had the cars very long when my Aunt Daisy and Uncle Levi from Denver came to visit. Their daughter, my cousin Judy Fonda, was with them. Two things I will never forget about that visit. Judy's husband, Gary Fonda, was serving with the U. S. Army in Vietnam at the time. Judy said to me, "Joe, Gary is an Episcopalian, but would you pray for him anyway?"
The other thing involved Uncle Levi's hearing little Donnie express a desire that his pedal car have a "buckle seat" like the one on the family auto. Uncle Levi issued a call for any old leather belts that might be available along with an electric drill. Soon afterward seat belts were installed on each car, forever after to be referred to as "buckle seats."
Donnie and Jane Anne enjoyed the cars, each bearing a personal license plate with the owners' name. Katherine got in on the act after we moved to Belton. As the years followed, the cars were kept available for grandkids and other children who have came to visit. The cars were especially enjoyed in recent years by the youngest of our six granddaughters living in nearby Waco until they, too, outgrew them.
The rightful owners, Donnie and Jane Anne, relinquished ownership creating a dilemma as to the cars' future until I heard that Tommy Marshall was collecting items for the giant annual auction benefitting Cherokee Children's Home set for Sept. 29. Bought by some collector and restored (with probable removal of the remnants of the "buckle seats"), the cars will prove to have more than sentimental value, while in the meantime blessing Cherokee Home.
I did my reminiscing and shed my tears before Tommy came on the morning that he picked them up. As he drove away, a peace came over me, and my heart was filled with joy—the joy of no regrets—the joy of turning loose.
"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." – Matt. 16:25