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  Texas : Features : Columns : N. Ray Maxie :

The Unforgettable Lightening Bolt

by N. Ray Maxie
N. Ray Maxie
Around January of each year, I am told that Capricorns are usually born. I am not any different. It was very near my birthday in 1947; my dad and I were on our way to the post office in Bivins, Texas. We needed to pick up one hundred live mail-order baby chicks. If you look at a Texas road map you will find Bivins in northeast Texas on SH-43 about 7 miles south of Atlanta in Cass County. It is located on what was at one time the Texas & Pacific, later the Missouri Pacific and is now the Union Pacific Railroad. That area is known as the Ark-La-Tex region. Some people call it the Tri-States area.

For the first twenty-one years of my life I lived with my parents on a rural mail route. Our mail was delivered out of the little country post office at Bivins. Most every day, if the roads were passable, the rural "mailman" delivered our mail. That is what we called him back then. But, the mailman would not deliver live baby chicks. We had to drive about ten miles to the Bivins post office to pickup anything that the mailman wouldn't deliver. Today that postal job is known simply as a letter carrier.

I can remember along about 1949, my mother's greatest desire was to get a rural route mail job at the Bivins post office. Her elderly father, long since deceased, had been the postmaster at Starks, Louisiana, during the early 1900's. I think it was the only job outside our home that mother ever showed a great amount of interest in. And that was long, long before anyone had ever heard of NOW, "women's lib" or equal rights for women. She wanted very much to be employed and she was a very capable person. Except for one requirement, she couldn't drive.

During that time period, driving requirements in the rural backcountry of Cass County weren't very strict or even enforced. Mother had passed all of the USPO application requirements for the job except the driving test. So, she wanted my dad to teach her how to drive a car. As a youth, she had grown up in a family that didn't have a car and hardly had a need for one. Then later, my dad did all the driving in our family. Although he seemed less than a suited driving instructor and might have been too impatient with a beginner, he tried. Mother was determined and tried hard to learn. Our family car at that time was an old 1946 Chevrolet Fleetline two door. It had the often contrary; vacuum operated gearshift on the column. The windshield wipers were vacuum operated, too. If the driver happened to try to operate both at the same time, it just wouldn't work. Shifting became impossible. It was not automatic drive; no power steering; no power brakes; no air conditioning; no turn signals; no nothing! Driving that old car was pretty difficult. Mother made it jump and jerk a lot while popping the clutch, hitting the brake and stalling. She never learned how to shift those gears. The carburetor would flood out occasionally and dad would pop the hood open and work on it. So, as he often got angry and overly impatient, mother often got overly frustrated. It didn't work out and before very long all driving lessons were abruptly discontinued. They stopped long before mother got the hang of it. I remember her crying with a great sadness in her heart. She was very disappointed, to say the least; no drive, no job. I think we all cried a little bit.


On that particular day in 1947, my dad and I were about three miles from the Bivins post office. The previous night had seen a big cold front pass through the area and there had been severe thunderstorms with gigantic displays of lightening... next page
N. Ray Maxie
piddlinacres@consolidated.net
"Ramblin' Ray"
September 15, 2005
 
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