As we left, Grandma did not bother to lock the house. The black iron skeleton key remained in the lock. Grandpa sat in his tan Buick with an unlit King Edward cigar in his mouth, and as Grandma opened the car door, she said, “Sherman, don’t light that thing while we’re driving.” She then pulled down the sun visor and inspected her blue pillbox hat, took out the hatpin, made a few adjustments, and then repositioned the pin.
Grandpa said nothing. He raced the Buick’s engine, let it die down a little, and then put it in reverse. Like clockwork, Grandma bugged him. “Sherman, I don’t know why you need to race that engine.” It was the same as all other car trips. Grandpa would race the engine, and Grandma would complain. It was comforting to know that in a rapidly changing world of a young boy, some things never changed.
The road was oiled each spring in front of the house, a failed attempt to keep the dust down from the rest of the gravel road. In the country, the road no name, but when you reached the city limit, it was called Madison Street. One of my best friends, John, lived in a new subdivision at the city limits. I couldn’t see his house from the road, so I didn’t know if he and his parents had left. I was supposed to meet him on the square.
At the top of a slight rise, before you crossed Coon Creek was Peggy’s house, another friend. Her family ran a nursery center. She had to help out Saturdays, so I rarely saw her on those days, which was a shame, because for a girl, I kind of liked her. The bridge across Coon Creek was only one lane and a little scary. Grandma would hold her breath, but Grandpa never missed the running boards.
After Coon Creek, we were in the town proper and headed to the square. We turned on Main street at the Dairy Queen, just past Grandma’s Baptist Church. On my left was the Clintonia Theater where a double feature was playing, Ma and Pa Kettle and Francis the Mule. We crossed Monroe Street, which still had the tracks of the old inter-urban electric train. The square was just ahead. The popcorn smell always lured me in to spend a nickel of my allowance for a bag. It was at Main Street and the Square, in front of Gottlieb Mens’ Clothing Store.
Grandpa looked for the perfect parking spot. It had to be on the Northeast side of the square, out of the afternoon sun, and ideally in front of Woolworth’s Five and Ten. From there it was easy for him to get to The Greek’s Tavern for a beer and a game of pool. At one time or another, everybody needed something from Woolworth’s. A place there would assure Grandma would have plenty of visitors to the car for gossip. Grandpa didn’t have to circle. There was a spot between Woolworth’s and the tavern, in front of Montgomery Wards. After we parked, it was time to explore the square.