After leaving Lenny and New Orleans behind me I started making my way north towards home. On the trip up, I planned to visit a friend who lived in Grand Bay Alabama. His name was John and around this time he would be moving to California and then getting married. Unfortunately, while I had his address, I didn’t have his phone number with me; not knowing the exact timetable for his plans it was a 50/50 proposition whether he would still be there.
I got a lift to Grand Bay and asked directions at a gas station to John’s address. It was about five miles, but the day was nice and I was young. An hour and a half later I knocked on the front door of his house but there was no answer. A neighbor confirmed he had moved the previous week. There was nothing to do but start that long walk back to the highway.
On the way I stopped at a little store, not much more than a shack, and bought a seven ounce bottle of Coke and a pack of peanuts. I enjoyed my snack while walking and when done, since there were no trashcans to be found, I stuck both in my pocket. Nearing the highway I noticed a sound and looked back; about 20 feet behind was a police car, matching my pace and slowly following me. There was nothing to do but keep on walking.
Shortly we came to the Stuckey’s that sat by the highway. If you’ve been to the south you’ve been to a Stuckey’s Pecan Candy Shoppe. I walked into the parking lot and threw away the trash that had been sitting in my back pocket for the last hour. Which, of course, prompted screeching tires and sirens. As the dust settled, three enormous cops exited the vehicle, pulling their pants up as they did. The first of the trio asked “what you throwing in that trash can, boy?” to which I replied “trash.” When further quizzed on the details I gave a more accurate accounting. The second cop then inspected the evidence and said, “He’s right, Slim.” The last one asked if I knew there was a three-cent deposit on the bottle. I told him he could have it. The first cop wanted to know why I didn’t “just throw it in the street like everybody else?” I don’t remember what I said but they were the words of an idealistic youth spouting off about the environment. That was the final straw; he said, “You got five minutes to get out of my state.”
I walked to the highway, looking back to see if my friends would come and arrest me for hitchhiking. Apparently they were more interested in my leaving than for me to become a guest of the county. After a few minutes a car stopped and, even though there was purple shag carpeting and chicken bones sewn on the ceiling, I got in. But only until the next exit, where I eventually found a more comfortable ride, free of dead poultry. A couple of days later I was back home.
These last three blogs have concentrated on a thin slice of my long ago trip to New Orleans. The wider pie was something wonderful. Like the first time I had grits in what must have been the worlds biggest truck stop; or walking down Bourbon street at the height of Mardi Gras festivities, throwing beads at girls on veranda’s; completely by accident coming across the warehouse housing all the beautiful floats for the parades and sneaking in to explore. These are all cherished memories that I won’t share now; but if you run across me at a show sometime feel free to ask—I’d be happy to relive them for you.