Misty mornings in May and the sunrise over the Charity Farm.
Whenever you enter Winslow from the North side, you will see this old neon sign from the Sunset Drive In that formerly stood on Highway 41 in Evansville. The screen is set up back in the distance. It is summertime nostalgia for me. I called it the Airport Drive In.
I know there once was the intention of opening a drive in here. Now it is an abandoned roadside attraction of a day gone by. It could just as easily have been laying in a landfill somewhere. I like that it is sitting there. You may see old junk sitting in weeds, but I see childhood memories.
Growing up in the 1960’s, going to the drive in on the weekends was the thing to do with our family. We went to Oakland City Drive In mostly. But once in a while we would go to the Sunset Drive In, all the way to Evansville. The entire experience was just a big treat. For one thing, we rarely went to the city at night. I still love a city at night. The first thrilling thing for me was driving past the airport with all of it’s colored lights. If a plane was taking off or landing, we kids would hang all over the top of each other to look out the window busting with sheer excitement. We weren’t in seatbelts back then. Remember hanging over the front seat and your dad yelling at you to quit hanging over the seat? We would drive past Dad’s work, that big bustling Whirlpool factory was bigger than anything in Winslow. Then we were there, pulling in past the glowing light of the Sunset Drive In sign.
At the Oakland City Drive In we kids pretty much could run around by ourselves. But here Momma was a little more cautious with that. We still could go up and play on the playground that was under the big screen under her watchful eye. Dusk would turn into darkness and the cartoons would start. Woody Woodpecker was our cue to abandon the swings and seesaws up front and head back to the car. Sometimes we had to look twice because Dad would have moved the car if the speaker didn’t work. We would make a trip to the bathroom, Momma taking me, Dad taking the boys. Cars were so much bigger back then. Momma would put pillows in the floorboard on either side of the hump, making the entire backseat a big bed for me and my two little brothers. Usually we lay down after the cartoons. Sometimes I would climb up in the back window….in those old big cars the back window had a ledge that was perfect for little girls to share with the nodding dog and look out at the stars overhead. At Oakland City when I lay in the back window all I could see were stars, here there were planes flying over my head with their blinking lights to dream by.
Memories of family drives, city lights, concessions stand bathrooms, crackly speakers, mosquito coils hanging on the window, just getting a few sips out of one pop for the entire family to share, just getting a few bites out of one popcorn for the entire family to share, the smell of Dad’s cigarettes, seeing my parents sitting next to each other with Dad’s arm around Momma, jostling around with my little brothers as we lay down to sleep and a hot summer night somehow seem a whole lot sweeter than that click of a button for that movie in my living room.
With Valentine’s Day near at hand, while out on my porch I can’t help but gaze at the porch next door.
It’s not the porch of the neighbors who live in that house now that I see. It’s the porch of the elderly couple who lived there when I first moved into my house that I see.
It is a love story to share.
I would while away countless evenings on their porch listening as Jess Nelson told stories about running a store in not the best part of Evansville and later his store in Winslow. I listened as Virginia Nelson told about trying to help the kids that they knew were having a hard time. When they ran their store in Winslow my dad was one of those kids. He said at every store in town sandwiches cost a nickel but at Jess’s store they were free. Virginia would tell of working at Browns Grocery and how she enjoyed the high school kids coming in. She would lay out rows of bread and start smearing on the ham salad at lunch hour.
They were so proud of their children and grandchildren. Virginia would bring out what she was sewing for this one or that one. Jess would proudly wear a tshirt sent to him by his daughter from her work. They had many stories to tell. Virginia tatted while sitting on the porch. She offered to teach me that lost art, but we never got around to it.
I used to drive Virginia to the doctor often. She would say life had not always been easy. But things always worked out.
Then came the days Virginia became ill. She had to move to the nursing home. After all of their years together Jess was lost without her. When the kids were not available, we neighbors tried to take him over to Petersburg to visit with her.
It ended up I started a delivery to a drugstore in Washington about this time. Each weekday I could pick Jess up around 11:00. He could visit with Virginia and eat lunch with her. Then I would pick him up on my way back. I came to look forward to those rides with Jess and listening to more of his stories.
When I asked their daughter if she would approve of my writing this, she shared a sweet story with me.
“Toward the end of Virginia’s life and her stay at Amber Manor, Jess was beginning to have some intestinal problems and was taken to the hospital one night. The next day he was unable to go with Rose on the daily trip to the nursing home to visit Virginia. This set off panic in both Jess and Virginia!! The doctor thought Jess would be able to come home after another day in the hospital and Virginia was distraught at the nursing home and complained loudly about not being able to see her ‘Sunshine Boy’. Jess was becoming more agitated at the hospital where he was finally given a ‘substantial’ sedative. In checking with the nurse, his daughter was told that he finally had gone to sleep – for five minutes – and she then caught him walking down the hall carrying his shoes. He was on his way to see Virginia.
The next day Jess was released from the hospital and his daughter took him directly to Amber Manor to see Virginia. When they entered the nursing home, a couple of the attendants saw them and accompanied her and Jess to Virginia’s room so they could see Virginia welcome her ‘Sunshine Boy’. With her eyes not even open she knew Jess was there and sat upright with outstretched arms to hold him. It was quite a sight.”
Those were bittersweet days as Virginia faded more and more.
My heart would break a little each time we left there as Jess would lean over to give her a kiss. He would smile for her and pat her cheek, saying “I love you, sweetheart.” He never once failed to do that.
Some days on the way home he would cry. Some days I would cry along with him.
Virginia passed in June of 1999. Jess soon joined her in January of 2000.
Jess’ birthday was on Valentine’s Day and he was never bashful about telling this to everyone and reminding them to send him a birthday card on Valentine’s Day.
I hope you all have a Happy Valentine’s Day with your loved one.
We have been breaking record after record for the heat hereabouts. We had a ten day stretch of over 100 degrees. Now the humidity is setting in and the 100 degree days seem so much hotter.
The last week, rain showers have been hitting and missing us. Today we had rain in Winslow and they didn’t out on Number Seven Road. But now it is like a sauna out there. It was good for the plants and cooled the house roof off though.
This was the outside temperature on my way to work one of the days.
The grass in the yard crackles under our feet.
These cactus are flourishing :)
Crabgrass never dies. It is thriving and stealing the water I give my roses.
I am not sure what this plant is. It showed up this year all around the edges of my sidewalks. Some kind of succulent weed? Or did someone plant it?
Most corn is lost in the fields. Just brown and a few feet tall with no ears. This field on Number Seven Road by the old Rogers place is looking pretty good.
A brush fire started over on Highway 64 near the Line Road. It burnt 620 something acres between the Highway and the Number Seven Road, and between the Line Road and the H Pit Road. It was way too close to our little Patoka Grove Church for comfort. Thanks to the firefighters it was brought under control before it damaged any homes.
Snakey Point is drying up.
In some places north of us the Patoka River is pretty low. It is spring fed around here.
Mold is growing on the houses and roofs. I can’t wait till fall to wash it off.
The tomatoes are practically stewing on the vine.
Pray for rain and cooler temperatures.
I am going to try something just for fun. Each month I will take a picture of something in our area that has been around for awhile. See if you know where it is. Answer in the comment section below.
I have no prize to hand out. Only a congratulatory shout out :)
I’ll let you know the answer at the end of the month.
I’ll give you some hints: