Friday, June 3, 2011

Wayward Son

In Calvert City, Kentucky, I spent a good portion of my summertime days on the bike.  I was 10 years old, and I had Big Red, so I felt like I could go anywhere.  Lots of days, I would ride the county roads, picking up refundable soft-drink bottles.  When my basket would get full, I would find a store and turn them in for cash.  It was pretty lucrative, as the people of Western Kentucky seemed, at the time, to have no problem with littering the sides of the roads with Coke and Pepsi bottles.

One day, Daddy and I were driving around in his 1967 VW bug.  We were probably going ginseng digging, or something.  Any excuse to take a walk in the woods, if you know what I mean.

We stopped at a little country store, and went in for our own Cokes.  When we walked in, the old guy behind the counter greeted me.

"Got a load of Coke bottles?" he asked.

"No.  I'm just riding around with my daddy," I told him, as I grabbed a drink out of the cooler.

The three of us chit-chatted a little, and then Daddy and I left.  After we got in the car, Daddy turned to me with a look that was partly concern and partly anger.

"Have you been hitch-hiking?" he asked. 

"No," I said.  What a weird question, to me.  I would never even have thought of hitching a ride.

"Well, then, how did that guy in the store know you?" he demanded.

"I ride my bike here, and pick up bottles on the way.  Then, I turn them in here, and go back toward town."

"You ride your bike here?" he asked, skeptically.


Well, come to find out, the big deal was that the store we were at was 15 miles from our house.  Daddy just couldn't conceive of me riding my bike that far.  Neither could I, really.  If I had known it was that far, I would probably have never ridden there.

But, I would meander my way along all morning, before I got there.  It probably took three or four hours of bottle-picking for me to get to the store, and that much longer to get back to town.

That's why I carried sandwiches with me when I left, every morning.

I was informed of the new rule:  I wasn't allowed to ride more than 10 miles from the house.  Of course, I had no odometer, and no way of knowing how far away I had gotten.

Still, the rule made Daddy feel better.  I have no idea if I ever obeyed it.



  1. I know what you mean. There is no telling how many miles my buddy and I wandered away from home (without really trying) on those all day childhood excursions.

  2. Hi Jon,
    That's a very nice story and thank you for sharing it with all of us. I was pretty much the same way, though there was no Coke bottles to pick for me, back in India.

    I am not sure what kinda music you like, but I remembered this song by John Prine and I want to share it with you.

    Peace :)

  3. Some things simply don't change, eh?

  4. Thanks, guys.

    Chandra, I love John Prine! Thanks for sending that!

  5. Jon,
    You are welcome. Glad note you also love Prine. I listen to him almost everyday!
    Peace :)


As always, sorry about the word verification. It's a necessary evil, unfortunately.