Sunday, September 18, 2011

Y'all Come!

Yippie ki yay, motherfucker! *skeee-douche!!*

When we were kids, the trip up to Dayton to see my Aunt was like a well-paced action movie--tho it didn't look nearly as good sweaty, barefoot, and bulging in a wife-beater ...

We drove up to Ohio for most holidays, and during the school year, we hopped directly from the school bus seat to the Chevelle back seat. Those times were the best, since besides getting to eat a drive-thru dinner with shoes off while watching the interstate "movie," we'd usually hit Cincinnati right after sundown. All those blazing colorful lights looked like a New York City Mini-Me.

Soundtrack music on the radio: Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now," Frankie Valli's "My Eyes Adored You," and later, Earth, Wind & Fire doing "After the Love Has Gone."

Outside of Lexington, there was a slow build-up of rural countryside; just enough memorized landmarks to keep us peaked: The massive Walton railroad bridge, the secluded office building with a lone switch track out front (sometimes with a blue Conrail diesel parked out front), and no end of Union 76 gas signs--my favorite.

By the time we hit the monolithic Florence water tower ("Florence, Y'all!"), the action built up to a fever pitch--four lanes became six, then eight. Daddy invariably told us to put our seat belts on. The two-story drain pipe elbowed out of the bedrock like rusty skeletal work. Then around the corner, and Cincinnati appeared like a brightly-lit mirage.

Even if we hit the city in the daytime, there was still plenty of bang for the buck: The beehive Quality Inn, the old-fashioned stadium-sized Pepsi logo, and of course the Brent Spence bridge: A double-decker, a backseat wonder, its size unfathomable. The river below looked like the most regal body of slow-moving chocolate milk ever.

There were so many bridges and trestles and water towers, it was like an overzealous teenager's model railroad layout.

By day was well enough, but at night the city was a Vegas strip for kids. Some sights were shrouded in darkness, but enough others were decorated with secular Christmas.

Once over the river, we were finally in Ohio. Up there, things were different: Bridges Freeze Before Roadway became Bridge Ices Before Roadway. Boron gas stations became Sohio. Even the railings of their bridges looked different. Just barely, but still ... different. It was almost like being in a delightful parallel universe.

After the river was a blitzkrieg of overpasses, underpasses, historic stone arches, and buildings so strange and wonderful, they may as well have been unidentified Egyptian artifacts. There was the Mead building, with its logo identical to the one on our spiral-bound notebooks. There was the endless overpass, which seemed ready to deliver us to the Pearly Gates (or at the very least, to zero-gravity), there was the GE plant with its Bionic Bigfoot-sized logo, there was the Fruehauf sign.

Outside of Cincy, this action movie stepped back and took a much-needed breath. Most days, Dad would have the radio tuned to WHAS, which played the Chickenman series. I couldn't understand a word of it; just more paradise heard by dashboard lights.

There were still landmarks: The Johnson Controls building, with its matching Johnson Controls railroad cars on its Johnson Controls railroad siding. There was a distant sign in an industrial park which said DAY-TON (on two lines). There were the green flappy fin-things sticking out of the concrete highway divider; an optical illusion, they looked cylindrical until you passed them, and realized they were actually flat.

At long last we'd hit the Needmore Road exit, and would finally leave the interstate for the third act. There was the railroad yard, with seemingly thousands of trains. There squatted the Cargil plant, which smelled like instant mashed potatoes. There were the stop lights, some of which were actually turned sideways.

And then we'd pull up in the driveway in a different neighborhood, and bright light would spill from the front door, and there were hugs, and smiles, and Yippie Ki Yay, motherfucker. It was fun.

Also, my uncle had a totally bitching quadrophonic stereo. Not that I was mainly interested in that, or anything. *cough*

Driving back, usually on the following Sunday morning, was far less of a thrill. There were still plenty of sights to see, especially those we couldn't see on the northbound trip. But coming back was never as much fun. It was more like watching a good action movie on network, with the good parts cut out; and knowing you had to go back to school in the morning. Bleh.


  1. How well I remember "Florence Y'all"...Interstate 75....traveled it from Michigan to Alabama, more times than I can count. I still miss my visits to Damon's in Vandalia, OH...and the one in Sevierville, TN, absolutely blows!

  2. I do miss it, tho I imagine a lot of it is different by now. Since they widened the interstate, the drain pipe is gone, bummer. I've heard nothing but good about Damon's, but we never got out there ...