I was getting ready to head off to Home Depot to pick up some string for my weed eater. When I got in my truck and tried to start it, the key just turn around and around.

This is something serious, I thought. So I called my son, Tyler, no shade tree mechanic (believe me I paid for his eight certifications) and asked him to check it out. In the meantime, I road everywhere with Linda.

Tyler came and checked it out. “This is no piece of cake,” he said. After he figured out what it was, he had to remove the entire steering column and hundreds of wires and screws and the airbag stuff, leaving a hole in my dash that reminded me of my first car – a 1960 Plymouth Valient. It had a pipe-like steering column and a push button gear changer. The only wires on the steering wheel apparatus worked the turn signal and horn.

This simple machine was not just a piece of cake; it was a Twinkie. But today, there are not many Twinkies around (remember they almost disappeared completely).
Nothing is easy anymore. Even if I buy a bottle of wine at the grocers, I have to show an ID. “Sorry sir, it’s policy.”

As Bruce Springstein said, “Fifty-seven channels and nothin on,” Driving licenses were paper as were draft cards in the 1960s; a Coke, 20 cents; Hershey Bar, 10 cents; courthouses were small and so were jails and a  shot gun was the shooter of choice – for hunting game not people.

Highways were two lanes; IGA grocery was your shopping choice; your shoes were wingtips or Converse; three TV channels made it simple to choose; American Express and department store credit cards were the only credit selection; schools had well behaved kids due to corporal punishment; dad worked, mom stayed home; mothers were bored, fathers played poker on Friday night; kids played cowboys and Indians, not video games; babysitters talked on the phone all evening and had never heard of Facebook and your mom took pills for depression and teenagers hadn’t heard of grass until years later.

Interstates were few and considered futuristic and trains and buses were the best way to travel long distances.

Then the late 1960s and 1970s, life began to change: Vietnam, psychedelic music, pot, bell bottoms, psychedelic art, LSD. Everything became more complicated: waiting in line for gas; mass resistance; Interstates rerouted traffic around cities; toll roads popped up, and Jefferson Davis Highway was unimportant to travelers who once used their cabins and motels passing the exits at 70 mph.

Restaurants that offered family cooking closed. McDonald’s and Wendy’s opened. It wasn’t much later that mom and pop stores closed as Walmart opened and pulled more business from the Jeff Davis corridor to Wallyworld.

Life became less simple: four lane thoroughfares replace two-lane local roads; mom had to work to make family ends meet; processed food; air conditioning; computers; computer games; and Jeff Davis Highway became blighted with pay buy the day or week motels and prostitutes. Used car lots, and businesses suited more for an industrial park than a once vibrant stretch of highway that catered to tourists. Flea markets now replace some of those business locations. Even the Bellwood Drive-in only offers used goods, when it once offered “Coccoon” or “Out of Africa.” Bellwood closed in 1986.  

Everything cannot be perfect and I’m finding that I cannot change that, things are as they are. I cannot have the world the way I want it. But not everyone’s vision is the same as mine. My truck broke down. I couldn’t control that. Some folks cannot fix their car at all.

And, it’s just possible that there are some of us who don’t care about our property. Some of us who can’t afford to fix their truck.

A couple of folks have been looking for a way to better Jeff Davis Highway, to make the façade, the highway corridor, spruced up; maybe some areas could look a bit better. I think the entrances into Chesterfield could look better. That’s really the point, we want to have our teeth bushed and faces clean.

I have wondered about the project, which many people in eastern Chesterfield are talking about, that will be built by the Chinese company, Shandong Tranlin Paper Co. Ltd. When the company visited Chesterfield, did they arrive at Willis Road by way of Interstate 95 or from Jeff Davis Highway?

I wonder where the Tranlin workers will eat lunch? Will Tranlin have a lunchroom or franchised a Burger King and Olive Garden on their property (similar to what Fort Lee is in the process of doing).

Maybe the $2 billion building will bring business along the Pike. There is no doubt that it will take hundreds if not a thousand workers to the Tranlin site just to build the factory. The contruction workers will need a place to eat lunch. Or they need me to visit them every day in my roach coach to serve them lunch.  

The vision for Jeff Davis Highway may be different for each one of us, but maybe the Tranlin worker will bring Jeff Davis Highway – money.

My truck is fixed and my baby’s back.


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