| || |
I’ll be heading out on the road for a Thanksgiving journey for the first time in many years. Road trips at Thanksgiving wore me out back in 1996 & 1997 when I was commuting between Lockport, NY and Tuscaloosa, AL. I was not keeping a journal at that time of my life. However, the events of the trips are burned into my memory.
I was stacking aluminum radiator cores in Building 7 on the day shift the day before Thanksgiving 1996. This was a rate job I was very good at. My partner in sharing the center machine was Karen. She taught me how to stack and she was fast. Once we started work for the day we tried to keep the machine which made up our air centers running all the time. Starting the center machine from a dead stop would increase the chance of jam ups and down time. When our parts table would fill up, an electric eye would get covered cancelling out parts being sent. If my eye would get covered Karen would then get all the parts. She would yell.. “JIMMY my table is filling up!~!!!” That would always light a fire under my butt!!
Stacking was a rate job. I had made extra parts earlier in the week I did not record so I would give a legal count for my weeks work when I left early. This day I worked through my morning breaks and was able to get my count out just into my lunch. Karen promised to put my finished parts on the line, and record my count so I could head out on the road early. I ran out of that place to my truck and hightailed it to my house. The truck was packed with paving bricks and odds and ends.
I had moved most of my antiques south in October using a 17ft U-haul. Mom’s cat Fuzzie moved in with Chloe and me after her death in 1994. That October move was the trip my sisters found Fuzzie dead when they came to feed the cats. That was so horrible. There was no way I was going to leave Ron’s old cat Chloe behind this trip. From now on we would be travelling as a team. Chloe was startled when I scooped her up, plopped her into the cat carrier and carried her to the truck.
Chloe settled right in and travelled wonderfully. The traffic was as you would expect: Miserable. Naturally I hit Columbus, OH right around 5:00 p.m. I hate driving through this city. Rush hour makes it the worst. Cincinnati was not much better. I can still see in my mind the unbroken line of red taillights snaking into and through the metropolis.
Once I got over the river into Kentucky things calmed down a bit. I decided to stop for the night at what was then a Budget Host Motel in Erlanger, KY. I had stayed there before and knew there was not a problem with Chloe. Right next door was a White Castle. A BIG plus in my book.
Chloe was a trooper. She made herself right at home in her regal manor.
We got an early start Thanksgiving Day and had smooth sailing into Tuscaloosa. Chloe explored the new house. It met with her approval and she claimed a perch on top of boxes stacked up in what is now the back study.
Chloe made a number of similar trips the following year. She developed cancer: the Thanksgiving trip to Tuscaloosa in 1997 was her last. She was such a special cat. There was something mystical about her. When she would look into your eyes it was like she could see into your soul. Her ashes are in a tin in my front parlor. I have it in my will I’m to be cremated and our ashes are to be mixed together and spread off the Appalachian Trail.