Living in the Past

The chorus at Waterloo Elementary School (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, January 23, 2018, 10:25 a.m.

I was just thinking about the old Tom T. Hall song “Spokane Motel Blues.” As you well know, if you read this blog a lot, I call on Tom T. for inspiration often.

The song is about a man sitting disgruntled in a motel room, thinking about all the fun being had by his buddies elsewhere.

By Monte Dutton

Last night, as I was on the way to write about a school-board meeting in Waterloo, I stopped by a little café folks had told me about to sample the cuisine. The place is in Cross Hill, another of Laurens County’s small communities, and the Mayberry Café is on the way to Waterloo Elementary School, the place the school board was visiting. Framed pictures of Andy Taylor, Barney Fife, Aunt Bee, etc., are on the walls, and the kind of old-fashioned music I love was playing to accompany my supper of country-fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried okra, green beans, and a roll.

I listened to Webb Pierce sing “I Ain’t Never,” Faron Young’s “Wine Me Up,” and others I know how to play on guitar. The first road to which it took me back was the kind that used to take my daddy and me back from horse auctions, with the Grand Ole Opry playing on the radio.

The first item of this morning was reading epistles from the NASCAR Media Tour, which I attended from 1993 through 2012. I remembered the Tour from years that were more fun than these because, if I’d had a blog, I would have been writing about late-night poker in the hospitality suite instead of so-and-so’s Twitter account. I’m one to talk, since I now have a Twitter account I use extensively.

It was a different time. This is a different time. Forever and ever, amen. Technology keeps accelerating our lives, and most people can’t even drive a stick. The journalism transmissions are all automatic, too. What’s going to become of NASCAR when the cars drive themselves? Oh, probably, the same that’s going to become of writers when the stories write themselves.

The same that’s become of me.

One reason I miss the Media Tour, and the races themselves, is memories of when times were simpler. I have enough sense not to yearn for the whistle-stop years, when my life consisted of writing, driving, flying, and drinking on the road, and washing, packing, and paying (bills) at home. When I was but a lad, my daddy the auctioneer rode passenger trains up and down the East Coast that took him from one car auction to the other. We’d drop him off at the train station in Columbia on Sunday night and pick him up on Thursday.

Technology be damned, some things change, and some things don’t.

CHS subs wait for a whistle, along with public-address announcer Buddy Bridges.

I thought about making a call and asking if it would be okay if I dropped in on the Media Tour for a day, but I realized it wasn’t practical, not with a school-board meeting in Waterloo, middle-school basketball on Thursday, and the Red Devil varsity on Friday night. I’ve got some bios of county hall-of-fame inductees to write and a novel to finish, and this morning I spent over an hour, mostly on hold, trying to understand why $158 disappeared from my checking account overnight.

The Rolex 24 was an event I loved the three times I was in Daytona Beach for it. One year I drove over to Deland to watch Stetson play basketball, then returned to the track and watched headlights zip around in the midnight darkness from the perch of the infield Ferris Wheel. The speedway didn’t have lights then. It’s one of my vivid memories of the circus, which, on that occasion, almost literally was.

(Photo by Richard Prince for Chevy Racing)

This week I’ll tune in via TV from time to time, trying to keep up with the running order and what channel it happens to be on at the time, and I’ll read a novel on my Kindle for a while, and write one of these blogs, and put some finishing touches on my own novel, and play Tom T. Hall songs on my guitar, and ruminate in general about the way things used to be.

I’ll wonder if all these young folks believe what they’re having is fun.

I almost forgot. My account of the school-board meeting is here.

If there is indeed a lingering market for this kind of amateur philosophizing, you’ll be interested in becoming a patron of my work. You’ll be able to read it, regardless, but if you’ve got a monthly pittance to spare, and you deem me worthy of support, you’ll consider a pledge here.

My growing array of books is readily available through imperial Amazon, most of them, anyway. There’s a heap of them right here.

Signed copies of three of my novels — Cowboys Come Home, Lightning in a Bottle, and Life Gets Complicated —  are for sale here and at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton.

About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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