The Turtlehull

This blog is something I’ve wanted to do for years.   I put it off, thinking it was somewhat self-centered, and besides, what would I have to write about, anyway?  It’s more than a little intimidating, given the thousands of blogs out there that are so pretty, so interesting, or so full of information.  But, I’m not really one to jockey for position.  This isn’t a competition; it’s not a race.  It’s more like a drive  down a two-lane highway without much traffic, when you’re not in a hurry to get anywhere.  You just want to enjoy the ride.

When I was a kid growing up in South Arkansas, we had two cars in my family.  The first one was a station wagon my mom and dad had bought years before I was born in 1968.  It was a 1963 Chevrolet station wagon, with four doors and a drop down tailgate.  There was no plastic on this car; it was all heavy metal painted a dull green.  When you got in the car and closed a door, it would shut with a resounding clunk.  You knew it would not open again until you pulled on the handle and pushed firmly with your shoulder to make your exit.  The windows would all roll down by turning the handles, even the one on the tailgate, and the “air-conditioning” would begin as the car got up to speed.

By 1971, the old car had seen better days – my dad having used the back as a place to put the deer he had killed on hunting trips or the catches of the day – so another Chevrolet station wagon took its place as the family mode of transportation.  Just like the old car, it had four doors and a drop down tailgate, but it was even heavier.  It was a dark green with fake wood panels below, and big enough for a family of seven, plus a few extras if you didn’t mind a tight fit.  It was always referred to as “the new station wagon” so as not to be confused with the old one, which my dad used to drive to his job every day as a high school principal.

We didn’t wear seat belts back then because they were uncomfortable.  The buckles would get hot in the sun and could leave a red mark if you unwittingly sat on them, so we would push them into the seat and out of the way.  Being the youngest of the family, I was able to climb from the front seat, where I sat between my mom and dad, and over the middle seat, where my oldest sister and two brothers sat, to the back seat, where my older sister would reluctantly share the two-seater with me.

On those longer trips where we wanted to spread out more, my older brother would get in the back seat, and I would climb all the way to the very back, to the spot my dad called the turtlehull.  It was the narrowest spot in the car; not really a trunk, but the space behind the back seat where luggage, groceries, the youngest child, or whatever, could be stowed.  An old quilt, one my mom would have made, would be folded and placed on the bottom so I could be a little more comfortable.  From there, I could look out the side windows and watch the cars go by, or wave at the drivers behind us through the big window.  I could sing along to the 8-track, fuss with my sister, count the cows in the fields, and daydream.  If I got sleepy and wanted to take a nap, all I had to do was stretch out on the quilt and fall asleep to the sound of humming tires on the highway.

The turtlehull is packed for our trip to Texas in the summer of 1975. Here we are taking a rest stop at Aunt Juanita's in Conroe.
The turtlehull is packed for our trip to Texas in the summer of 1975. Here we are taking a rest stop at Aunt Juanita’s in Anahuac, Texas.

I don’t claim to be a writer.  My grammar and punctuation skills are more than a little rusty.  I’m not an expert on anything in particular, like so many bloggers are, and you probably won’t see many how-tos or DIYs in this space.  My plan for this blog is for it to be my turtlehull, a place for me to put my thoughts, my ideas, my memories, or whatever, while I take a slow ride, navigating my way through the internet.  You’re welcome to join me if you don’t want to get anywhere in a hurry.  You might want to bring your own quilt.

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