Nostalgia Never Changes
It was a rainy Thanksgiving Day and I made my way up South
Main Street on the West Side. My Ford Galaxie 500 was purring like a kitten,
and I was feeling warm and snug because of the holidays that were upon me. Back
then, you see, I did the Thanksgiving thing like a champ, at least being at a
dinner table somewhere in the valley where that hug-somebody feeling would
inevitably creep up and seize me. And I could move on to the next holiday that
waited just around the corner.
I’m sure that thought was going through my mind as I drove, because it always did on this day. The back-to-back holidays were a one-two-punch to a reveler of holidays, and back then I was a young enthusiastic reveler on his way to do the Thanksgiving thing right.
I don’t remember where I was going on that particular Thanksgiving morning, but it was one to remember, obviously, or I wouldn’t be writing about it now. It wasn’t a real big incident, certainly not earth shaking, but after all these years I still remember it when I try to capsulize all the holidays I have been through. That’s not an easy task, which is why I remember this particular day.
I was driving along South Main Street, water spraying from the puddles that had formed from the falling rain, when I drove into a hidden puddle that lay hidden at the top of a small rise near Gary Hubbard’s house. My car engine coughed and sputtered, my dashboard lights flickered, then all lit up as my car coasted to a stop on the rainy roadside of West Lebanon, half in the road, half out.
I don’t remember where I went for help that day, but I remember coming back to my car and getting it started with the help of a friend, drying off coil wires and other electrical gadgets under the hood, grateful that my car had not been towed. The beautiful sound of an engine whirring to life made this day an even more thankful one to a kid with little money... but not before a Lebanon Policeman drove over the hill and stopped to see what the problem was. I assured him that the situation was under control and we were close to getting the car out of the roadway. The policeman told me he had been by the scene when I was out finding help, recognized the car, and decided to cruise the scene until I reappeared. I thanked the officer and we went our separate ways, and I guess this is where this story becomes the Thanksgiving story I always remember.
The next day I went in to work and my boss told me that the policeman who had stopped by the roadside the day before had called his house, having recognized the car and knew my biography. He wanted to get a message to me that, though probably a tow truck situation, he was not going to make the call. Instead, he circled the scene until I reappeared and got the car started. My boss said, “He wanted me to tell you Happy Thanksgiving.”
It was not a big moment in the grand scheme of things, but a moment nonetheless. I drove out of the puddle across from Gary Hubbard’s house as a young man with a new lease on life. My Galaxie 500 purred beneath me and we had miles to go – if even to nowhere in particular – knowing then, like I do now that the next day, Christmas would be on everybody’s mind. And that Thanksgiving wish from a local cop remains one of the holiday memories that rotates through my mind, as meaningless and insignificant as it turned out. But I also know that if it remains so vivid in my mind 44 years later, it probably isn’t meaningless or insignificant at all. Wouldn’t you agree?
Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to you all!