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Alan D Busch

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What's In A Name?
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College dropout Cain K. Abel wandered the countryside searching for a purpose and found it in the small town of Sweethill, Montana, where he met the woman with mounting b..  
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Cruising Route 66 With Dad

It was such a hot summer Sunday that the black pitch used to

patch the roads reached its boiling point by mid-morning, a

matter of some concern to local highway and volunteer fire

departments.


As we crossed over the mighty Mississippi from Missouri to

Illinois, my father, a genuine sun worshipper, gleefully lowered

the convertible top of his flashy Ford Thunderbird.

Fashionably dubbed the “T-Bird” by afficionados, my dad, older

brother Ron and I cruised along U.S. Rte. 66 from St. Louis to

Chicago. It happened one fabulously fun summer Sunday, a

lifetime ago. Life was … good.

We had just passed through Litchfield, Illinois, one of those

“slice of Americana” towns though nothing more than a mere

dot on the map you’d  surely miss had you blinked or nodded

off for a second. In the old days before the interstate was

rerouted outside the town, “motorists’, as they used to be

called, drove through the actual town itself,  stopping at every

 red light, “stop” sign, “filling” station and “Dog ‘n Suds”.


My brother Ron and I, as thrilled as we could possibly be to

be spending a week with Dad in Chicago, rode in the back seat

where any of our mischief might stand a better chance of going

undetected at least for a while which, as matter of fact, it did.

“Boys, will you hand me up my cap, please?”

“What Dad? It’s ‘kinda’ windy back here. What did you say?”

we shouted deliberately inflating the volume of our voices in

the hope that Dad might  forget about his request.

“My hat, my cap, you know?” We looked at each other. 

“We’d done it now!”  

 

What had happened was this …

My father loves the sunshine, the brighter, the hotter, the

better. But, as with everything, there is a limit, and my father

reached it that day. He had driven bare-headed from St. Louis

and, by the time we reached Litchfield, it had become too hot

even for him. Sharing the cap with my brother? Well, that was

out of the question. And so we tussled. “Boys will be boys,” I

saw my dad say, smiling contentedly, when both he and I

looked into his rear-view mirror at the same time.


Have you ever noticed how quickly summer weather can

change? As we approached Lincoln, Illinois, about forty miles

beyond Litchfield, those big, fluffy, puffy gray rainclouds began

looming overhead. My dad put up the convertible top.

My brother and I had settled down so much so that it caught

our father’s attention.

“Hey boys, everything all right back there?”

“The jig was up!” we thought. “Oh yea. Sure Dad. Fine, really …”

we shot back, our overly agreeable intonation setting off his

parental radar that something was amiss. “Fellas, I asked for my

cap fifteen minutes ago.” At that precise moment, a giant

thunderclap boomed overhead followed by buckets and buckets

of rain. I could barely make out the highway sign: “Welcome to

Lincoln, Illinois”.

My dad switched his wipers on high.

“What are we ‘gonna’ tell Dad?” I asked my older brother,

hoping he’d come up with a way out of this.

“I dunno. Why did you reach for it?”

“Me? Why did you dangle it in front of my face? You think

we can go back and find it?”

“Are you whacky? That was probably fifty miles back. By now

it’s long gone. Probably run over by a big truck.”

“You really think so?”

 

“Yup.”

The rain stopped, having moved on as quickly as it had moved

in. The temperature must have dropped fifteen degrees. Dad

put the top down again and seemed happy, you know

carefree. Pulling off his shirt at a rest area, he drove the rest of

 the way into Chicago bare-chested. He loved to sunbathe. I

think I mentioned that.

As for the cap, the wind snatched it from my brother’s

hand when I grabbed for it. My father never mentioned it again.

Did he realize what had happened? Probably did, but this week

in Chicago would be his time with us and ours with him.

Jeopardize that over a cap? My dad wouldn’t have done that.

Besides, the cap … well, it wasn’t exactly a Biltmore black

Canadian suede fedora, just a cloth cap, no big deal, right? And

you know what? Even had it been a Borsalino, my father was

wise enough to know that it’s not the hat but the head that

wears it which makes the difference.

 

 

 


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Reviewed by Micki Peluso 9/27/2009
Dear Alan,
This is one of my favorites--makes a good preface, I think!

God bless!

Micki

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