Her name was Sam (Samantha) and she was perfection personified. An angel straight from Heaven. A dream came true. Need I say more?
Yes, it sounds like just the musing of a boy caught up in the enthrallment of young love, but if you could see what my eyes beheld, you would know that what I felt for her went far beyond anything associated with puppy love. For just one look at her angelic face made everything else meaningless to me.
Besides, she did not seem to mind spending time with me, and that had to count for something. For it was not like I had a long line of ladies impatiently waiting for their turn to have a little slap and tickle time with me.
The funny thing is that it did not start out that way. That is, at least not for me, it didn’t. For I found Sam to be a little too skinny for my taste.
Furthermore, I could not see her fitting into the plans I had made for my future. For I was going to be a great lawyer, and I envisioned myself being with a lady of distinction—well-grounded in the social graces. Whereas, Sam had been born and raised in Gaddis Holler, and fairly unaccustomed to much of anything sophisticated.
Nonetheless, my parents persisted, and I relented for the sake of appearances. For it was better to be uncomfortable around a girl they liked than to face their wrath.
Much to my parents chagrin, the relationship got way out of hand in a hurry (in their opinion). For taking things slow and easy is just not in my nature.
No, I did not get her pregnant, and my schoolwork, scouting and other activities were not adversely affected. Nonetheless, my parents wanted to keep me on a very short leash, and my wanting to spend more and more time with Sam greatly added to the tension between us.
Yes, I suppose I should elaborate a little upon how it all got started before the window of opportunity closes. For it was rather unusual.
Well, maybe not to everybody, but if you consider finding the light of your life (even if only at the time) at a C.B. break being held in a hay field in front of her parent's house way down in the depths of Gaddis Holler to be something that does not happen every day, then we are in agreement. For a chance encounter between a boy and a girl in a hallway of the high school they both attended is the kind of stuff that they make more movies and television shows about than C.B. breaks.
Now, for those who do not already know, a C.B. break is a gathering of people in a given area who are Citizens Band (C.B.) radio enthusiasts. Many are held as a sponsored event of a particular C.B. club, but the ones we went to were not so formal. For everyone was welcome to attend—regardless of whether they had a C.B. or not.
Oh my, what fun was had by all (usually). For Sam's father (Mandolin on the radio) and mother (Hummingbird on the radio) worked really hard at being good hosts. Food and drink (non-alcoholic!) was always served, and bluegrass music was often played. This alone would have been enough to insure that many came from miles away.
Suffice to say, C.B. radios were quite popular back then, and not just in the trucking community, neither. For the advent of the age of cell phones was yet to come, and many families used them to keep in touch with their loved ones when they were out and about.
A lot of communication between different families also took place. In fact, much more of that could be heard on Channel 11 than anything else. For this was the frequency that almost everybody in the area monitored whenever they were not on another channel talking to somebody in order to keep Channel 11 clear for others to use, and with the right equipment, you could reach out and touch somebody 20 miles or so away when the skip was down.
Skip is a term used to describe a lot of static on the radio, and to the best of my knowledge, it is caused by atmospheric conditions. Since there are times when you can clearly hear conversations taking place hundreds (even thousands) of miles away, I suppose it would be safe to speculate that the added static might be the result of a lot of traffic on a channel that would normally never be heard.
Not only did skip allow for the hearing of some really long distance conversations, there are times when it also allows for participation. For I can remember hearing my dad talking to people who lived near Atlanta, Georgia and Albany, New York on a couple of occasions.
My dad was on the base at home, but I had something similar happen to me one night years later while I was mobile. For I was traveling west on I-40 somewhere between Santa Rosa and Moriarty (I think) in eastern New Mexico, and I heard someone give a bear report over the radio, which is an informal report of any sightings of highway patrol cars in a given area. When I asked him where he was, he told me that he was at such and such mile marker, which didn’t make any sense to me. So, I asked him to be more specific, and he then told me that he was just north of Medford, Oregon on I-5, headed for Seattle, Washington, which was well over a thousand miles northwest of where I was at.
As if that was not freaky enough, the thing that struck me as being rather odd (insert nervous laugh here) was that the radio had been dead silent before that. I mean, I hadn’t heard a peep out of anybody, anywhere, for a while, and there wasn’t much static going on at all.
No, I didn’t have my squelch (squelch is used to limit the noise from static) cranked up too high! For I always kept my squelch down on zero out of fear of missing out on something. Granted, it may very well be that the entire conversation I had with that guy up in Oregon was just another hallucination, due to driving way too long again, but it most certainly wasn’t because of having my squelch up too high that the radio had been so quiet before.
Anyway, it was soon after we made our move from the Eagle Rock area to the Bates Corner area in 1972 that my dad got bitten by the C.B. bug, and the virus quickly spread throughout the family. For a mobile unit was installed in all of our vehicles, and the base unit was constantly on during waking hours.
Since that was before the days of deregulation, everyone who wanted to use their C.B. as a means of communication had to apply for a F.C.C. (Federal Communications Commission) license in order to legally do so. My father was assigned KFS-6407, and I am absolutely amazed that I can still remember that.
In the beginning, I was very enthusiastic about talking on the radio, but the thrill was soon gone after I was finally allowed to drive by myself. For I had to be in almost constant contact with either Buddy B (my dad) or Cherokee (my mom) while driving.
Even as bad as that was, it was a lot worse when Sam and I were out on a date. For I had no idea what embarrassment really was until I could hear my voice coming over the speakers at the drive-in movie theater every time I had to answer my dad.
No, just turning the thing off was not an option. For my dad had told me (in no uncertain terms) that he would come up there if I ever tried it, and I believed that he really would.
Even worse, my dad also told me that my days of driving by myself would be over forever if I ever ignored his call over the radio, and that was not a risk I was willing to take. For I had already suffered through not being allowed to even take my driving test until I was almost 17.
No, the reason for the delay was not because of being unprepared. For I had already purchased (with my parent's permission) a 1961 Chevrolet Apache 10 pick-up truck, with money I had saved from working at Johnston's during the summer, and as for the driver’s license test itself, I scored a 100% on the written part, and a 98% on the road skills part, which was totally unfair. For the evaluator told my dad that he took off two points for general control because he never gives a 100% score to new drivers.
Yes, it could be said that I probably brought it all upon myself. For it was not like I had always been the epitome of responsibility, and that D- in Algebra II certainly did not bode well for my cause.
Despite all of that, be assured that the real reason for the delay was another outbreak of rheumatic-feveritis. For my parents just could not shake the great fear they felt for my safety.
No, I had no appreciation for their concern at the time. For it was putting a major crimp in my style—especially in regards to my burgeoning love life, but Sam hung in there with me.
Perhaps she really was an angel, who was hidden from all others just for me to find? For one of her classmates came up to me one day at school and asked where I had found such a knock-out, and after I told him her name, the look of shock on his face was one for the ages. For that was when he realized that they had been going to school together for over seven years!
Oh yeah, she was indeed a knock-out—especially after she starting filling out some. For she looked a lot like Jaclyn Smith (one of the original Charlie's Angels, along with Kate Jackson and Farrah Fawcett) to me, and I am not the only one who said so.
Yes, I had it bad for her, and that sure put a damper on my enthusiasm for going on a very special trip with the Vaughan's (my scoutmaster and his family) during the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. For I did not want to spend a minute more away from her than I had to.
By then, my parents were starting to regret the part they had played in getting us together. So, they were all for me spending a month away from Sam, and after making another one of their patented offers that I could not refuse—away I went.
Yes, I wound up having a lot of fun on the trip. For I got to see Chimney Rock (a National Monument near Scottsbluff, Nebraska) up close and personal, a July snow flurry in Casper, Wyoming and the rain forest around Forks, Washington.
The rain forest held a particular fascination for me. For I had spent countless hours out in the woods all by myself, but I had never experienced a feeling of what I can only describe as being utter isolation until I headed down a path that led into the woods in the hope of finding a good spot to relieve myself.
I’m telling you, it was plumb spooky. For nary a sound could be heard, and I wasn’t very far at all from a fairly busy highway, with more than its share of logging truck traffic.
We also went deep-sea fishing in the Pacific Ocean (five miles out of La Push, Washington) and who could forget the wall of mosquitoes that came upon us at a KOA Campground just outside of Laramie, Wyoming? For I passed Steven (Charlie's son, who was a year younger than me) like he was standing still, and he could run a 100-yard dash in 10 seconds flat!
Nonetheless, I could not wait until I was back in my baby's arms again, and I was being as serious as I could be when I swore that we would never be apart for that long again. Obviously, I had forgotten what I had read in our Heavenly Father’s Holy Bible about not boasting about tomorrow, and a little more than a year later I discovered why it is there. For I found myself facing an even longer time away from her.
Again, the trouble was over me not being allowed to drive by myself. For my parents presented a united front that appeared to be quite impregnable against me driving back and forth between Cassville and Columbia.
Yes, I could have just attended a school much closer to home, but I did not believe that it would make any difference. For my parents wanted me to focus ALL of my attention upon my studies.
I suppose I should have been ashamed of myself for not honoring my dad and mom as much as I should have. For I knew they believed that they had my best interest at heart, but at that age, my idea of what that should be was quite different than theirs.
Alas, it was merely the beginning of a protracted end, and I did not see it coming. In fact, I had no idea what to even look for.
You see, I quickly discovered that college was a lot harder than high school. For in just the third week of my Algebra 10 class, we were already getting into some trigonometry.
Thankfully, I had taken trigonometry in high school. So, it was not a complete shock to my system, but with mathematics never coming easy for me, I was not feeling very optimistic about how well I would do in more advanced classes.
On top of facing a much tougher curriculum than I was used to, I had joined the U.S. Army R.O.T.C. (Reserved Officer Training Corps) program soon after classes began for the semester. For it promised to pay for all of my schooling, and I already had visions of playing some golf with the brass at the Pentagon while serving with the Judge Advocate General (J.A.G.) staff.
Thankfully, R.O.T.C. was not as hard on me as that algebra class was, and I was doing very well in it. For I was ranked #1 on their competition rifle team, and I was asked by the main instructor of the freshman class if I would like to see if I could make it as a Black Beret.
No, being a Black Beret was not at all like being a Green Beret (Army Special Forces), but it did allow its members to do some things that were more advanced. A good example of this was rappelling, which is a technique used to rapidly lower oneself from a height (such as down the face of a cliff or out of a hovering helicopter) by means of a rope, and it was a blast after I got over being so afraid.
Finally, my dad brought Sam up for a visit in early October (I think) but it was not what I had hoped for. For after she left, I fell into a deep, dark depression.
Please, do not get me wrong. For I was overjoyed to see her, and as an added bonus, my dorm roommate and several other residents of Clark House saw that I was not exaggerating about Sam's beauty, style and grace.
Nonetheless, it felt like most of my heart left with her, and the old adage, absence makes the heart grow fonder, started to make some sense to me. For I came to realize that it was surely an anthem for masochists!
I also learned a thing or two about William Shakespeare. For either he was nothing at all like me in sentiment or not speaking from personal experience when he wrote parting is such sweet sorrow. For I found nothing sweet about it at all.
Much to my chagrin, life went on as before, but that was about to change. For it was during a routine call home a couple of weeks later that I was told that my dad would be coming back up there by himself the next Saturday.
Surprisingly, we had a relatively good time. For we went to see Mizzou beat USC (the University of Southern California) in a football game at Faurot Field, and then he saw me shoot at a rifle team practice.
Now, the plan was that we would spend the night in a motel room, and then my dad would head for home the next day. For driving over 400 miles in one day, along with all that we had done on campus, would have been just too hard on his back.
Plans often go awry, however, and that was what happened when my dad finally got around to telling me why he was really there. For the truth was that he did not want me to have to hear it in a phone call that my mom, brother, and himself had seen Sam out with a boy at a Cassville High School football game the week before.
It was the first time I ever yelled at my dad without him immediately putting me back in my place. For he just calmly gathered his stuff and meekly went out to the car after I insisted upon going home NOW!
Yes, my dad had displayed a great deal of sensitivity toward my feelings by coming all that way just to be there for me during a time of great sorrow, but I did not care about any of that at the time. For he was the bearer of some very bad news, and the messenger often gets hit with the initial shockwave in situations like that.
Understandably, the drive home was very much on the quiet side. For my mind was racing between scenarios of still being with Sam and being without her.
No, my dad did not say a word. That is, except for occasionally asking me to stop so that he could use the restroom and get another cup of coffee.
Aha! So, my driving skills were not in question, after all. For if they were, would he have allowed me to drive 200 miles over some very narrow roads in the dark while being in such an emotional state?
Okay, maybe my dad did have some sort of a death-wish. I certainly could not blame him, if he did. For he was constantly in almost unbearable pain—even with all of the pain pills he received through the V.A. (Veterans Administration) and I am sure that being so often at war with his oldest son made his life all the more worth living.
Anyway, we made it home without a scratch, but it was not a very happy reunion. For my dad had regrouped quite nicely by the time we got there, and with my mom protecting his flanks, he proceeded to inform me that I would not be allowed to go see Sam until I had time to think about what I was going to say.
In other words, my parents did not want me going over there and begging her to stay with me, and after taking a few days to think about it, that is exactly what I did. For she was my everything, and I was very serious about not wanting to live without her.
Despite how much I would like for it to go away, I can still feel the chill in the air when I was finally allowed to go see Sam in person, and it did not take long for me to realize that my parent’s hopes were close to coming true. For she had discovered that life went on very well without me, and I went back to school feeling more alone than I ever thought possible.
No, it was not that my parents had developed a dislike for Sam. For she was still a very welcome member of the family.
Nonetheless, it was that my parents wanted to keep her membership in the family unofficial for as long as possible. For they truly dreaded the day when my umbilical cord had to be cut.
Oh yeah, there was also what happened to Terry at the Lake Dardanelle State Park, near Dardanelle, Arkansas (around 60 miles northwest of Little Rock) that I received most of the blame for (of course) the summer before. For it was my idea to race on foot to a certain tree and back.
Nonetheless, some blame was also assigned to Sam. For my parents had it in their heads that I would have seen the wire that Terry tripped over if my mind had not been so focused upon her, and they did hold it against her to a certain extent.
Yes, it was indeed a tragedy. For Terry suffered a lacerated liver, but that was not the worst of it. For the surgeon at the hospital in Clarksville, Arkansas was convinced that his spleen had ruptured, and Terry almost bled to death before they finally found the problem.
On the other hand, He did wind up with a rather wicked-looking scar out of the ordeal, which is something manly men envy the world over. For the spleen and the liver are on opposite sides of the abdominal cavity, and after the surgeon made his initial incision in order to work on Terry's spleen, he just kept right on cutting across his belly until he got to his liver.
Be assured that Sam and I felt very bad about what happened to my brother, but that was nothing in comparison to how bad I felt after returning to Columbia. For I could not eat, nor sleep, and I was certainly in no condition to attend classes—not even R.O.T.C.
Talk about having a dark cloud hanging over yourself, mine had completely enveloped me. For I found myself walking around in a fog too thick to see out of most of the time.
Yes, I made some attempts to fight my way clear. A couple of them were even quite heroic—albeit merely in my own mind.
Unfortunately, all of them failed miserably. So, I borrowed the car of a girl from Cassville, who was a year ahead of me at Mizzou, and I drove back down to Gaddis Holler to see if Sam would allow me to start living again. After begging her to do so for longer than I would like to reveal, she finally relented.
Click [here] for a free fancy PDF of the entire book.