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Southern Shorts - Union 76

Troyce Walls | Published on 11/1/2020

Southern Shorts, are a series of stories written by longtime member, Troyce Walls. Written decades ago about his life with motorcycles beginning with mopeds. These are familiar tales most members can relate to and thankfully Troyce took time many years ago to write these unpublished shorts.

After decades of being sequestered on a dusty floppy disk, scroll through any title from the Author Troyce Walls and read any or all of this ongoing 15-part series of stories from the past.

An older feller used to come by the PURE station/country grocery owned by my Granddad where I worked as a gas jockey/oil & tire changer (1.00 to fix a flat - incredible. And I fixed a boatload of 'em; the crappy old tires of the time) who had a Harley Pacer with the high pipe.  Me and another jockey talking him into letting us ride it one day while he was having an RC with a bag 'o salted peanuts poured in.  We cranked and cranked on it, couldn't get it to go, then went off pushing it as fast as we could run.  Finally something gave way, never did crank.  When the owner came back by the next day without it, he said we'd busted the piston.

That store was a source of many influences in my early life.  I rode my Sears Allstate moped down there to the store off the mountain (would go faster coasting) and back up again - mostly in low, of course.  "EEEEEEEEEE, kerchunk, Bwwwaaaahh. . .  . . gasp, kerchunk, EEEEEEEE!"  Switchback turns with a drop off one side and the cut-away mountain side on the other.  I was Mike Hailwood once I started riding the C200 on the same run.  That's when once the C200 seized on the way back up, because I'd run it so many days straight for all that many miles without checking the oil.  Coming up the mountain, the oil ran to the back of the case, away from the pickup.  Cooled down, started turning, fired right back up.

GranDad/GranMa (Leemon Tebol "Papa Buck" and Beauton "Ton" Hornbuckle) had a chipped white enamel/plate glass front meat cooler with baloney within which was sliced off to order from a big sausage of it, among other meats, several cheeses, etc.  Electric-slicer and scales up on top, Cut-Rite waxed paper.  Made fresh milkshakes with a machine with the metal tumbler (loved to hit the blades against the side to make the racket, ticked off 'Ton), had a full ice-cream glass-top freezer with the big five-gallon containers.  I also fell into the position of doing a lot of that service as well; the ice-cream scoop with the liquid inside, having to be told to be careful with that meat-slicer.  Hot sauce, salt/pepper on a couple of tables up near the windows in front with a plastic tablecloth.  Smelly ass good ol' boys would come in for baloney and cheese, weighed to order at lunch, get some Saltines, have at it.  Maybe a tin of O'Possum sardines.

There was an old fellow, about a million years old I thought, came by often that they called the "Goat Man."  He had this marvelous, red-clay-caked machine that I didn't know at the time, but it was a Cushman Eagle.  He wore a coontail fur cap, fringed jacket, dirty and oily as crap, coon-tails trailing off his scooter, big wooden box lashed to the back that often did, indeed, have a  little goat in it, bleating away.  He was always full of great humor, joking, smiling, and always spoke to me just as if I were another adult.  Chewed 'baccy of course; brown chin, spitting everywhere.  That, too, pissed 'Ton off.  I didn't like stepping in it myself, with my often bare feet.

Same place where two of the older, real Mechanics who worked there - they even built engines right there in the shop - went out one Saturday and came back with one each brand new Honda Dreams, one black, one white.  I got a ride on the pillion of the black one.  Tell me that didn't change my course somewhat.

There were "Coke" caps embedded everywhere in the tar around the station. We sold 25 cent cans of re-cycled oil.  One old commercial fisherman would come by every single weekday morning hauling a huge flat-bottomed boat behind his always running - afraid to turn it off - smoking to high heaven 1940s Chevy pickup.  He would put a quart of that 25 cent oil in every morning.  Had some kind of cheese for bait in his boat that stank like several rotting animals.  Papa Buck made me put all the emptied oil cans upside down into a special funnel/barrel he had built so that every drop would be saved to be sold back to the oil-distributors.

There were two bouncy, pretty blonde sisters often came by for gas, the daughters of a family my grandparents knew.  One was driving age, the other about my age (12-14).  The older one would always act like she was going to kiss me, would tease me, etc., all to the great delight of 'Ton sitting there behind the cash register.  The younger one wasn't bashful either, but not as "out-going" as her sister.  I was torn between enjoying the attention and wanting to run hide whenever they showed up. One nice Saturday afternoon late, they stopped by for gas on the way to the picture show in Guntersville, about 20 miles away.  They determined and allowed as to how, in no uncertain terms, I should go with them.  I immediately flushed and went catatonic, saying I needed to stay there and work, blah-blah, even over the objections of 'Ton.  So, they went on finally, to my great relief, without me.  'Ton then promptly and with vigor pointed out that she and Papa Buck didn't need me there that late, and I needed to learn to loosen up, enjoy things when I can because someday I will wish I had.  She was always saying that crap that I didn't understand at the time.  I sure wish now I had gone with those sisters that evening, among many other things I didn't do when I had the chance.

P.O. Box 663, HUNTSVILLE, AL 35804