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Mine Creek Revelations: Aunt Pokey

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YES, I AM STILL HERE looking out my window on Main Street, and I wonder how long it will be before I see Aunt Pokey drive by.

I’ll recognize her immediately I’m pretty sure.

When she’s on the move you can just barely see the top of her head thru the steering wheel ring. She has no idea what a turn signal is for, and she’ll have a long line of traffic behind her because she never goes more than 15 mph. A lot of the drivers behind her are honking.

You ever hear 15 or 20 cars honking and drivers cussing all at the same time?

I first crossed paths with Aunt Pokey when my buddies and I were hellion teenagers. We thought the town’s posted mph limits were merely speed suggestions to be obeyed only if the town’s lone daytime law enforcement officer’s car was NOT in its usual parking spot on Main Street. There’s a pizza place there, now.

If it WASN’T there it meant that he might be on patrol, looking for speeding hellions. Or, maybe his wife had appropriated the car and taken it to her beauty parlor appointment. After all, it served as both a town patrol car and as a family vehicle.

No matter where I was going if/when Swampy let me borrow the station wagon, I seemed to get behind Aunt Pokey. That was even an accepted excuse if the wagon and I got home a bit after curfew.

My hellion friends and I never called her Aunt Pokey to her face.

Well, one guy did once and she nearly kneecapped him. “Aunt Pokey, why you creep around so slow all the time?” he whined, adding “Ooooooo” when she kneecapped him. He only smarted off to her because his hellion buddies doubledog dared him. Called him ‘Chicken.’ You did not want to be called ‘chicken’ in front of friends.

Once, the annual Howard County Fair Parade finished 45 minutes late because the sheriff’s pickup truck — red lights blinking, siren howling — was  stuck behind Aunt Pokey who was going to the grocery store at her usual speed. Naturally she was on the parade route.

The sheriff didn’t radio for help because he knew that — just as the hellions ignored mph suggestions — Aunt Pokey ignored cop’s lights.

Funeral processions that got behind her were doomed to take hours getting to the cemetery. The floral displays would be wilted.

And you just better hope you didn’t need an ambulance for a quick run to the hospital. It was automatic you’d get behind Aunt Pokey.

Come to think of it, I haven’t seen Aunt Pokey in a long time.

A real long time.

That thought occurred to me last week when I was driving to the grocery store — Or, maybe I was going to the barbershop. I can’t remember right now, but it’ll come to me.

I was going down Main Street at  a sensible speed. Honestly, I don’t bother to look at the speed-o-meter anymore.

I heard horns honking behind me. I slowed down to look in the rearview mirror, and was surprised to see a long line.

“Wonder where they’re all going?” I asked myself.

I was driving very carefully and I even came to a stop at a green light because I thought it might be close to changing to yellow, and that meant the red was only seconds behind.

Anyway, I don’t want to seem fixated on stoplights, but I have noticed that very often the green light will change to yellow when I’m almost directly underneath, and that means the light might turn red before I can get to the other side.

I don’t want to get a ticket for running a redlight so — just to be safe — I usually stop before the light can turn yellow. Makes sense to me.

As I said, I don’t want you to think I get fixated on stoplights and traffic safety.

I continued my journey to the store and the honking never let up. Maybe it even got worse after the pause at the stoplight.

After awhile I got to the grocery store parking lot and unfortunately I bumped a shopping cart into someone’s shiney new car.

When I got out, a hellion teenager pulled up beside me and leaned out of the window. He said something very puzzling:

“Where were you going in such a hurry, Uncle Pokey?”

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ANIMAL CRACKERS. It must have been a terrible season for the deerhunters. Every time I take a leisurely Uncle Pokey drive down a country road I see scads of deer. Scads, I tell you.

Sometimes I pass one of those gated roads, and sometimes I am tempted to drive in — if the gate is open.

But I remember that a former law enforcement officer told me about someone once getting locked in behind one of those gates and how it took several late night calls to find an angry person with a key. Maybe he was just trying to scare me. He did.

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THINGS I LEARNED from opening an email: “Laughing is good exercise –  It’s like jogging on the inside.”

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WORD GAMES. The cousins: Catch and Release. Some people think they’re fish; some people think they’re petty criminals; and some people think they’re pretty girls.

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HE SAID: “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” Alexander the Great

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SHE SAID: “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.” Mary Jane Oliver, poet

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SWEET DREAMS, Baby