Monday, November 9, 2009

Tucannon Ridge Runners

Went to bed. Rolled over looked at the clock. 9:57pm. Closed my eyes. Then 10:23pm. 10:45pm. 11:17.

Oh yeah. We've all been there. Wide awake. The hamsters were running their legs off in their little wire exercise cages. Too cold to go for a walk. Watching TV or riding exercise bike would wake everyone else up. Go for a drive? Where? And do what?

So I lay there. The breeze wafting in the window. Listening to the sounds of the night. Then totally random thought. Hank and Zora Snow. Friends of my parents who lived up the Tucannon River Valley from us. They had two kids - Ginger & Hank Jr. I remembered going over to their place. My sister Jo & I used to play w/Hank Jr. Ginger was quite a bit older and I never remember her being around much, although there was some whispered talk about her, a jockey passing thru town and pregnancy. But you know how adults always dummy up when they think the kids are listening... Hard to get the low down on the good stuff when they won't squeak up! At some point in time I became infatuated with Hank Jr. He was almost three years older than me, same age as Jo, and while she thought he was a dweeb I thought he was marrrrr...velous. I remember horses, sunshine, the lazy river rolling by, playing hide and seek in the cattle pens and an occasional dirt clod fight.

The folks got divorced. Ma and us kids left the ranch. Years passed. I was down at the BBT w/some buddies. Playing pool and dining on their famous fried chicken. Good looking kid comes in and we start talking. He's from Dayton. Yeah? I'm from Dayton...Hank? 


We reminisced. When it was time to go he walked me to my car. It had been really nice spending the evening with him. He opened the door for me and waved farewell, but as I started to back out of the parking lot he pounded on the window. I was startled but opened it, then he grinned and launched himself through the opening to kiss me.

Romantic? A dream come true?  Ummm, no.

Now's probably the time to mention that Hank had had just a "bit" too much to drink and as charming as he'd been we were nowhere near being on the same page about getting a little closer. Apparently the evening was ending too early for him tho. It was one of those "Oh, I don't think so Tim." kind of moments. I kinda laughed and pushed him out of the car.

Thirty years ago. Last time I ever saw him.

I still remember the sadness I felt that night. My childhood - you know, the Father Knows Best, TV show kind was short. It was tied up in a six year span of time when I was grandpa's "Little Sunshiner," and daddy's favorite child. When our family was still together and the five year old mud pie maven had more horses noses to kiss than she could ever hope for. It was an age of innocence when a little girl loved a boy named Hank.

Reality is a lot harsher. I realize that that particular fairy tale existed mostly in my mind but I kinda of liked the picture I held of a young Hank sitting on the corral fence with his shirt tail hanging out of his jeans, boots hooked over a rail, and a big ol' grin on his face.

 Never did care for the one of the drunken cowboy that replaced it.

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