The end of the road 

Published 11:20 am Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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My neuropathy has made it difficult to drive my stick-shift Saturn. My feet do not find the pedals reliably, so after two narrow escapes, our White Oak Apartment Manager has ordered me not to drive the car on campus. 

I am hoping that our son will sell the car for me. I got my first driver’s license in Tryon in 1945, driving my grandfather Rippy’s ’35 Buick. I was soon driving the delivery truck for Farthing & Covington, later the White Elephant for Tryon Builders.

Eva Smith named that truck. It was a well-used panel truck from Butler’s Dairy, converted by Hugh Jack to a regular delivery truck. Hugh sawed off the panel body a foot or so behind the driver’s seat and added a wood bulkhead, to which he nailed the skin with roofing nails. With a flat bed and overload springs, I could take 20 bags of concrete out to jobs.

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The truck had no bumper in front, and the fenders flapped like Dumbo’s ears, so that’s how it got its name. With no money for college, I went into the Air Force. Soon needing a car, I bought a used Buick sedan similar to those owned by my cousin Bruce and Mr. Comer, the superintendent of Adams-Millis hosiery mill.

Next came a succession of MGB-GT sports cars that put the fun back into driving. I even rebuilt the engine and transmission in one of them just to see whether I could. 

When seat belts appeared in new cars, I added them to my old Buick. Our kids were small, so I built boxes for them to sit on that enabled them to see out the windows. The back seat of the MG was perfect for them, except it had only one seatbelt. Thomas delighted in cramming little sister Sharon into the wall when I made a turn, always at road speed! Sharon was too small to push Thomas, so that was not fair . . .

Fran says I must tell you that this is not the end of my columns, but rather the end of my driving a car. I cannot afford to replace the car with one with an automatic transmission. I don’t think I would have any trouble with an automatic! No, the end of these columns will be up to Jeff Allison at the Bulletin office.

I don’t much like having to bum rides with friends, but I trust they won’t mind the times I will need to do so. White Oak provides a medical driver and has designated others that we can call on to get us to other places we will need to go.

There is at least one difference between driving and merely riding: I get to look around as we ride along. I can thus note changes made to our landscape. I especially enjoy riding in the golf cart to the gym with Wellness Director Kevin Vees.

I believe it was White Oak that asked the Town of Tryon to allow golf carts on the city streets. Now White Oak kitchen people use an electric cart to fetch our food to the Oak Hill dining room at lunch time.

I have made my annual phone call to my first cousin, Sylvia Gaines Becknell, on her birthday February 24th. Sylvia was the first girl I met when we were about 4 years old. She was a farm girl who seemed to know everything, while as a city boy I knew nothing of value in the country!

I willingly followed her lead as we played together, as she knew what was edible and what was poison, for example. Besides, I liked her and appreciated that she was a girl. I still do; I hope she will call me when I catch up with her age in April!    

Garland would like to hear from you at 828-859-7041 or