Happy Birthday, Billie Sunday

Published 3:00 am Saturday, September 17, 2016

Funny about the things that we inherit from our parents. The color of our eyes and hair. Small bones, big bones. Hook noses and thin lips.  Ill tempers and winning smiles. Stuff like that.

And, then things like the trait that I inherited from my daddy – an allergy to new automobiles. The dollar signs in his eyes caused him to go blind, as they do me.

Daddy couldn’t see paying hard earned dollars for a brand new car when it would be a used car as soon as you drove it off the lot. So, we never had a brand new car. The closest we came was a dark green Hudson that looked like a bloated frog on its last leap.

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For several years, that almost-like-new Hudson was the backdrop for our Easter Sunday pictures. Back then, for whatever reason, people liked to take pictures with the subjects standing by their cars. Much like people do today standing in front of their lake homes or beach houses or bass fishing boats.

Since a car was the most expensive thing that we could ever purchase other than a house, I guess that made some kind of sense.

But, like Daddy, a bright, shiny new car is not something that I desire. Names like Lexus, Cadillac and Mercedes Benz mean nothing to me.

Give me a car that runs on fumes and a half-quart of oil with jumper cables and a jack as extras and I was completely satisfied.

I bought Maybelle for $3,000 12 years ago and, when she began to show her age with a little flaking here and there, a cosmetic facelift did the trick. Deedie Carter and I painted Maybelle in 1960s fashion – gave her a hippy kind of look. She was very recognizable and people waved to us all the time and we were very happy together, Maybelle and me.

One day, a little over a year ago, Maybelle began to leak oil so profusely that I had to carry two quarts of oil with us at all times.

But, when her brakes went out on busy Highway 231 and I had to fly into the Chevron station in Brundidge, I knew sitting there, shaking like a leaf, that Maybelle’s days were numbered.

A few weeks later, I bought a new-to-me car. An ordinary looking, non-descript gray car that I planned to drive only on Sunday. I would drive Maybelle until she took her last gulp of oil. I named the new car Billie Sunday, after the evangelist. Sunday was the operative word.

This week Billie Sunday and I will celebrate our first anniversary together.

Maybelle is pastured in my backyard. I go out and sit in her every now and them. She seems to find pleasure when I tell her that nobody ever waves to me and Billie Sunday.