Memories of driving The Salamander

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Rachel Harper

Rachel Harper

By Rachel Harper

It has really been hay weather this past week!  My men were getting up hay close to Bob Bennett’s house this past week and on this particular day, his daughter, Leigh, with her little boy, were visiting him.  They both enjoyed watching them in the hayfield with all their equipment coming and going.  Leigh told her daddy that she was going to pray that it didn’t rain until they got the hay up.  The next day, Leigh called Bob and said, “Daddy, is it raining down there?  It is pouring over here in Athens!”  Bob said, “No, the sun is out and Bruce and Nathan are baling up the hay.”  He said Leigh was so relieved and said that her prayers were answered!

We heard that Rudy Bridges passed away last week and then I read his obituary in the Citizen on Thursday.  We offer our condolences to the Bridges family.  When my husband Bruce heard about it, he said, “Well, I declare, he did a lot of body work and fixed a lot of cars in his day.  I’ve got a story about him helping me out when I was a teenager.”  He went on to say that he was 16 years old and had just bought his first “car.”  It was a 1935 Chevrolet panel truck. He bought it from Travis and Crawford Greenway  and he paid $35 for it and it even run; he said he drove it home! I remember it.  It didn’t really look like a truck but more like an early, early station wagon.  He gave it the name of “The Salamander.” The Salamander was in pretty bad shape, paint-wise, when he got it, so he sanded and sanded on it until he had it ready to paint.  He went up town to one of the auto shops to buy him some paint to start sprucing it up.  The man at the counter asked him what color he wanted and Bruce said, “Well, I don’t know exactly, how much does a can cost?”  When the man quoted him a price, he said, “Whew, I didn’t know it was going to cost that much!”  Bruce had barely scraped up enough money to buy him a ride and he sure didn’t have too much extra to spend on paint.  It so happened that Rudy Bridges was there in the store at the same time.  Mr. Bridges spoke up and said to Bruce, “If you don’t care what color you want, I have got some pieces of cans left over from some paint jobs that  I might can mix together for you.  Come on out to the shop and I will see what I can come up with.”  They went out to Rudy’s shop and he started pouring paint together and it finally came out a burnt orange color.  Bruce said it was a perfect color for  The Salamander!  He didn’t charge him anything.  He was as happy as he could be!  He drove that car to school and football practice until he   traded it back to the Greenways for a 1955 Chevrolet Bel-Air.   Bruce also tells that when he drove The Salamander to school, Tom Riden, the principal, asked him for the key to hang in the office.  Back then if you drove a car to school, you had to turn your key in every morning to the school office; it was the rule. Bruce told him, “Mr. Riden,  my car  doesn’t  have a key, all you do is push a button  to crank it.” Mr. Riden said, “Oh, OK.” The Greenways  sold The Salamander to  a black man named  Johnny Soul. Johnny Soul also serenaded as a disc jockey.  He painted and decorated up The Salamader with flowers and bright colors.   We used to see him driving it around town for a long time.  Bruce could kick himself now for getting rid of it.  Wouldn’t Grandma,  PaPa and  the grandchildren all have a good time scooting around in The Salamander now?!

We learned this past week that Mike Hall, the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Eddie Hall who lived across from my parents on the Eatonton Highway, was tragically killed last weekend in Indiana when he lost control of the semi-truck he was driving. He was 48 years old.  A memorial service was held this past Sunday afternoon in Covington where he resided.  We certainly extend our sympathy to his family at this time.

We need to especially remember Bobby McAllister and his family in our prayers as he is in very serious condition at this time.  Of course, continue to remember Dean Strange and Allie Nash as they continue in rehab. Plans are for Allie to be able to return home soon, of which we are thankful. Debra Bonner has been under the weather and we pray she will feel better soon. We’re glad that Millie Henson has made some improvement lately with her back pain.

Ben Porter was at the Gwinnett County Fair this past weekend where he was busy showing his lambs and goats. He had some good showings and won several classes. Ben works really hard taking care of his animals being sure they are well groomed and taken care of.  He is gearing up for the state show which will be coming up soon.

We want to wish Hattie Bonner a very happy birthday as she turned 87 years young this past weekend. All of her family ate Sunday lunch at Bonners to help her celebrate. Happy Birthday, Miss Hattie!

Dale and Howard Thompson enjoyed having Dale’s sister and her husband, Pattie and Joe Franks from Fayetteville, Tenn., this past weekend.  On Saturday evening Dale and Howard hosted a meal for all of their family. Dawn, Tony, Miriah, Chris, and Cole Epps from Athens, Amanda, Derrick, and Taylor Mealor, along with Brian and Chase Thompson and Brian’s friend, Sabrina, joined the others for a nice evening meal and visiting.

Johnny, Penny, and Katelyn Messer enjoyed spending last weekend at the beach down at Jekyll Island.

Janice and Chuck Philippi, Jason, Rebekah, and Grayson Kilpatrick, Jenna, Jonathan, and Cooper Philippi along with Jenna’s parents all enjoyed a beach vacation last week at Destin, Fla.

Ben and Joanie Bruce attended a conference in Nashville, Tenn. at the Gaylord Opryland Resort Hotel. Joanie was able to meet up with two other ladies who are authors who use the same publishing company Joanie used when she published her book. They had been e-mailing back and forth so she was glad to finally meet them in person. Joanie and Ben also enjoyed spending the night with Joanie’s parents, James and Beth Franklin in Wildersville, Tenn., while there.

I gave the wrong date for the Godfrey barbecue last week.  It will be held on Saturday, Nov. 9 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Sorry about that!

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