A story from my Dad shared with me in 2002, but reaching back a good bit further.
In a recent email to Bobby, I said something about my short time living in Memphis. He encouraged me to write him more about it. I thought this would be a good project of me, as I have often reflected on those times, but have not really told anyone about them. So here I began.
#1 – One Morning
Was it spring or fall? Small children don’t have the sense of the seasons as we older types. I don’t remember it being extremely hot or cold as we all loaded into my dad’s ’47 Plymouth early one morning. This was an adventure like the one the year before when we all went to Jekyll Island for a week. Yet this was somehow different. We did not take my goldfish to Jekyll. Transporting goldfish was tricky, in those pre-ziplock days. My mom picked up the bowl and carefully made a place for it on the back floor of the Plymouth.
We were off. Small children also don’t have much of a sense of time, but it was early. I was soon asleep on the back seat just above my goldfish. We were just west of Atlanta on US 78 bound for Birmingham when I was suddenly jolted awake by the car serving and Dad pulling it off on the side of the road. Evidently some ice from an early morning milk truck had hit our windshield. There was some discussion as to whether the ice came off of the truck accidentally or it was a prank by the driver. As the confusion began to die down I noticed that the cuffs of my pants were wet. To my horror, I looked down to find the goldfish bowl on its side. Water had been splashed all over the floor, on the seats, and over the door as the bowl had turned over toward the right rear door. “My fish, my fish” I’m sure I yelled. The ice and the milk truck were soon forgotten as no damage had been done to the windshield. Mom got out of the passenger seat, and opened my door. Moving out of the way she said “Where is it?” I crawled out of the car trying to dry my pant cuffs, and being careful to avoid stepping on the landlocked fish. It was nowhere to be found. Mom and Dad pulled everything out of the back seat, and floor, but no fish. Carter, my oldest brother, was looking under the front set to see if the fish was there. “I don’t see the da…dum fish” he reported.
My other brother Kenny theorized that the fish must have splashed up on the door, and down between the door and the door sill. When Mom opened the door it must have washed out of the car. Thus it must be out there on the ground somewhere. So then the search expanded out on the grass and weeds next to the road, and under the car. As an adult I have often wondered how the conversation would have gone at the point if some passerby had stopped by to ask if they could help us. “Well, we are just here looking for our lost goldfish out here in the grass and under the car.” But it was still early and no one stopped.
Soon I was being promised a new goldfish when we arrived in Memphis, as my brothers began to taunt me about who would want a cold fish as a pet anyway. They had a point. A goldfish is loads of fun to watch, though it is not something you can curl up with in bed at night like a dog or a cat. So I soon got over losing my goldfish on the way to Memphis that day, or did I? I still remember this like it was yesterday.
This post is part of a series of stories my Dad shared with me back in 2002. To see the others, check out: