Friday, May 11, 2012

Traveling with my Daddy

This past weekend I spoke to a group of children's writers in Cumming, Ga. The library is about half way between Atlanta and the north Georgia mountains, on Settingdown Road. My dad rode up with me, and since we didn't really know where we were going, we arrived early. I commented that I knew whoever named that road didn't pronounce it Settingdown Road. We drove around a bit thinking we might find a cup of coffee. Instead we found a yard sale, and I bought a bicycle for my grandson. My dad laughed and said we drove 200 miles to go to a yardsale and buy an $8 bike. But you always need an adventure, right?

On the way back, we passed a church named Settendown Road Church. Aha! I knew it. This is the South, after all.

My daddy is a funny man. I remember hearing his laughter often when I was growing up. He laughed with friends, with family, with strangers. He was always pulling practical jokes on my very gullible aunt. He can make you sit on the edge of your seat for the punch line to a joke you've heard a hundred times. The funniest things come out of his mouth. You just never know when to expect them.

Once at the end of a day, I asked if he was tired.
      "I sure am," he said. "I've been up and down those stairs so many times today, if they'd been sandpaper, my legs would be worn off down to my knees." And he never even cracked a smile, until I nearly fell off the sofa laughing.

We spent the rest of the weekend with my brother and his wife is Hiawassee. They were having a biker's convention at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds. The place was already pretty crowded by Saturday. Driving home to Columbus, we passed hundreds of bikers going north. To Hiawassee? My daddy said,
"There won't be a stick of ground big enough to park a motorcycle on when all these folks get up there. One of those farmers could make some money if he rented out his cow pasture."

At the GA 400, we figured about 25 people every ten seconds passed through the toll plaza, on a Sunday afternoon. That comes out to a lot of money. I'm thinking about who gets the money, who distributes it, and what do they do with it.

My daddy says, "You reckon where that money goes that people throw in those baskets. There's got to be a big hole in the ground to hold all those quarters. You'd have to have a dump truck to haul it all off. I'm glad I don't have to collect it at the end of the day."

Where do those quarters go?

 I love traveling with my daddy. So here's a poem I wrote for him.

The Mechanics of Sound

Sitting on the fender, I watched him
beneath the hood of his pickup truck.
Dissatisfied with the hum, he’d tinker,
searching for a recurring motif,
precise rhythms hidden in the pistons,
smooth clicks, pitched
counterpoint to the road-ready purr.

Then he’d sit me in his lap to race
Mr. Tom’s mule down the fence-row.
I’d smile and wave while I victory-lapped
around Johnson’s pond to the highway.
Then I’d slide off his leg, lean
against his shoulder, and keep time
to his whistling tune.

         --Doraine Bennett

Irene is hosting the roundup over at Live Your Poem.


  1. Beautiful, Doraine! I love "road-ready purr." And you did a MAGNIFICENT job at the workshop last weekend. :0) Glad your father could join you.

  2. Thanks, Robyn. I had such fun doing the workshop. And knowing my daddy was watching was just a special treat.

  3. This is wonderful! I love your dad's sandpaper joke, and your poem about him!

    1. Many of his sayings I've heard over and over, but this one was new. And I've not heard it since. It's a good memory.

  4. Thank you for a peek into your family! This post reminds me of Jama's this week!

    1. I enjoyed Jama's beautiful post today. Family is such a deep theme that runs through all of us. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. This is just lovely, Doraine. What a treasure, time spent with a father. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    1. Thanks, Irene. Yes, it was a good trip all around. My dad is aging, so I'm more aware of the need for time with him. I do love that man.

  6. Beautiful poem, Dori! And great stories, too. I love your dad's sandpaper joke.

  7. Thank you, Tabatha. You should hear the stories that happen when my dad and my dad-in-law are together. And they just play off of each other. I can be hysterical.

  8. Beautiful tribute, Dori! I love that that first stanza could describe someone revising a poem:>)

  9. This is great. Thanks for sharing it!

  10. I'm married to a mechanic so your poem really hit home. Thank you for sharing a treasure memory about your daddy. Those moments are precious.

  11. I could listen to for more verses of this. What a perfect subject for a poem. Thanks for sharing!