Tag: family Page 2 of 13

When Nothing Else Could Help

Amanda Greene photo for the Bitter Southerner. Join their cause here.

Maybe 2019 wasn’t so bad after all.

There seems to be a collective sense that it’s better for us to write off the year 2019–put it in the file, put the file in the cabinet, shut the drawer, lock the thing up, turn out the lights, go home. Too much strife, too much difficulty, too much suffering.

I get it. This hasn’t been the easiest year. Aside from the general angst about the state of the world, it’s been a tough year personally. We lost my step-mother, Mary, quite unexpectedly in March. A big part of our family’s life has changed as a result. There have been dark, difficult, aching times since.

Yesterday started at the dentist’s office, continued to the tire shop (new shoes for my MDX, which cost roughly twice as much as my first car), but immediately got better when Kel and I took the kiddos to Hickory for some play time at the mall and Chuck E. Cheese. (Thanks to Mimi and Poppy for the gift cards!) We picked up a couple of things we needed and came home to an unseasonably warm afternoon. The kids played outside in the back yard, Kel worked on supper, and I sat out on the deck, the setting sun warm, the air still.

Mrs. Wooten’s Wagoneer

The Jeep Grand Wagoneer’s design virtually never changed, making it one of the few automobiles that connected entire generations of people.

Kelly and I had long since fallen in love with the classic lines of the Grand Wagoneer. The legacy of the car is renowned; many credit the Wagoneer for inspiring the concept of a luxury SUV. It competed with Range Rovers because it offered finer appointments to a truck-based platform more often associated with rugged austerity. Wagoneers were a staple of WASP culture, the preppy automobile of choice for lawyers and doctors and their private school kids.

These days, the cars are symbols of a vintage culture that floats further and further away. Put a Christmas tree on the roof rack and a wreath on the front grill, and you have enough Lands End kitsch that you can probably leave the kids out of your holiday card photo. I’ve always wondered about who drives these things and what kinds of lifestyles they might lead.

So when we spotted a Grand Wagoneer around town, it was interesting to see not just the car but who was behind the wheel.


On the legend of a man who had more stories than any single person could remember.

Ron Kraybill was there when the Yankees won the 1977 World Series in the sixth game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and after they won, he joined a mob of people who jumped over the outfield wall in celebration. When he made it to the field, Ronnie tore up a roll of sod from the outfield, and brought it back to New Jersey, where he planted it in my grandparents’ back yard.

There was the time at a different baseball game that a player was injured, and Ronnie’s instinctive response was to jump the wall (again) and help the man himself. He realized when he saw security chasing him that it was a bad decision. He was arrested.

Ronnie occasionally brushed up against the law, sometimes quite literally. There was the time that he was so distracted at a police check-point, what with trying to quickly summon his driver’s license and registration, that he inadvertently nudged his car against the officer.

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