Daddy’s Truck and Simple Times: Who Could Ask For More?

Daddy drove an old, white pickup truck with a running board.

The neighbor on the corner used to joke with Daddy, that he could set his watch by the sound of that old truck coming down the street every day at six o’clock.

My sisters and I could, too. We would be excitedly waiting to hear or see Daddy’s truck headed to the house. The first one to spot him would scream, “There he is!”

With those three words, the four of us took off in a dead run to the end of the street, where we impatiently waited on the corner. As he approached at 5 mph and rolled to a stop, Daddy’s smile was the first thing we saw.

Sue and I step up on the running board, holding tightly onto Daddy’s strong, tanned arm through the opened window. Grace and Kathy are instructed to “sit down” in the bed of the truck where they can barely see over the edges.

We girls ride the short distance back to the house, scarcely moving and grinning from ear to ear.

Other days, Daddy would stop, lower the tailgate, lift us up, and we would ride there, dragging long, spindly sticks on the dirt road.

Without fail, someone always dropped their stick on the slow ride home. Later we walked barefoot down the dusty road to retrieve the treasured stick.

On Fridays, a brown paper sack filled with candy rested on the front seat of that old truck. As soon as we jumped down from the tailgate, we rushed to the truck door as Daddy handed out the bag of candy. Tootsie roll pops, Bazooka bubble gum, Mary Janes, Bit-o-Honeys, Lemon Heads, and a full-size candy bar for each of us.

Even today, when I take that first bite of a Baby Ruth, for a moment I am seven years old, standing next to that old white truck. My reflections of those Friday evenings are much sweeter than the chocolate bar.

That old truck wasn’t only for dragging sticks from the tailgate or riding on the running board. During the hot summers the entire family would ride to Aunt Effie’s house at Riverside in neighboring Brantley County.

We girls rode in the back of the truck, sitting with our backs against the cab, hair blowing, singing as loud as we could over the roar of the truck and the wind.

While the adults visited, we played outside until Mama called us to help pick grapes from the loaded vine in the backyard. For every grape that went into the bucket, we ate two.

Mama cautioned us.

“Don’t swallow the seeds, you’ll get appendicitis.”

Having no idea what appendicitis was, I was careful not to swallow any grape seeds and worried if I did.

Aunt Effie’s supper table was pretty simple. Sitting on the wooden benches around the crowded table, we devoured rice and tomatoes, fried bacon, homemade biscuits and honest to goodness homemade cane syrup.

Goodbyes were said as we climbed into the back of the truck and headed home, continuing to wave at Aunt Effie and Uncle Riley as we travelled down the lane to the hard road.

The sweet aroma from the buckets of grapes and vegetables sitting safely in the corner of the truck bed filled the night air, as my sisters and I huddled together for the 20-minute trip home.

Darkness was falling as we climbed down from the back of the truck, ponytails no longer tightly bound in rubber bands, faces still cool from the night air, and voices hoarse from singing.

Simple times filled with love, laughter, and joy. Who could ask for more?