The horn blew and we knew son Greg and his family had arrived for the weekend. I stood in the garage as he unloaded his Mustang and unpacked his belongings.
We had a nice lunch of homemade ham salad and chips, then retired to our library with the overstuffed leather chairs to talk.
Greg was in a reflective mood, and we began reminiscing about the years we lived in Sabina. He mentioned a few memories and I showed him a story Jeff Gilliland, editor of the Hillsboro Times-Gazette, had written a couple of weeks ago about growing up on Josie Avenue in Hillsboro, in a newer neighborhood, full of young families with many kids around his age.
The story reminded Greg of his formative years growing up on South Howard Street in Sabina in the 1980s. I told him the happy times we made there, laugh by laugh, with some trials thrown in for good measure, in a sense, make it inconceivable to ever abandon the home, a home that holds our memories.
When we first moved to town, our good friends Bob and Delores Morgan, and the Morgans’ daughters — young son Clayton would come later — lived across the street from us. To our south was the Sabina Trailer Park.
“I tend to remember the more trivial stories as I reminisce,” Greg said.
“Dad, do you remember the time my friend, Matt Ellis, and I went trick-or-treating down South Howard Street when we were in the fifth grade? Glen New, our teacher, made us feel so proud when he answered the door and told us we had excellent costumes? It made us feel special,” he said.
“Yes, I do,” I replied. “I also recall the time your Uncle Jack and Aunt Nancy visited us one Friday evening. You were about 6 years old. You loved ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and Bill Bixby. You climbed on Jack’s lap just as Bill Bixby said, “Please don’t make me angry, Mr. McGee. You won’t like me when I get angry.”
You growled loudly, and told Jack you were going to eat him, “bones and all.”
Jack laughed and said, “Whoa, Greggy Boy!”
I told Greg it took him several minutes to calm down.
Greg then recalled how he loved for me to come to his grade school to make presentations when I was sheriff. “You came every year from kindergarten in Sabina through my middle school years,” he said.
Greg asked if I remembered what his classmates invariably asked. I told him I did. “May I shoot your gun, and may I see your handcuffs? Later, they all wanted to blow the siren when we were outdoors.” With that, we laughed out loud in unison.
Our conversation drifted from Sabina to Wilmington, when Greg informed me one of his favorite memories was when we ate lunch at Zimmie’s. Zimmerman’s Restaurant opened on North South Street, on the second floor of an old building, at the top of a long series of steps, just down a few buildings from the former Sheeter’s Five & Dime.
“I loved the baked steak sandwiches and 7-Up,” Greg said. “It made me feel grown-up.”
Greg talked fondly of his cousin, Katrina, who would visit us in Sabina during the summer. They were the same age, 9 or 10, and would ride their bikes all around the small town. One day, Greg said they became bored with riding their bikes and felt it would be cool to start-up smoking.
He said he emptied his piggy bank, and they took off for the local Uhl’s IGA with a pocket full of pennies. “We picked out our brand (True) and continued to the checkout lane. The suspicious cashier asked why we were buying cigarettes, and I told her they were for my dad, the sheriff, who was outside in the car.”
The wary lady behind the counter said, “OK, your total is 99 cents.”
”I counted out 99 pennies on the counter and proceeded outdoors with our newly purchased cigarettes,” Greg said. “We thought True cigarettes were cool, because of the plastic filter. We returned home, went down next to the creek, and began puffing away. It made us sick,” he said.
I told him confession was good for the soul. “Do you feel better now?” I asked.
“Yes, I do,” he said. He also said he had another confession to make. “Do you remember the times you made me sit on a chair when I was little and told me to think about what I had done wrong?”
“Yes, I do,” I said.
“Well, I never thought about it,” Greg said.
Not only is confession good for the soul, but so are the memories shared with the son you love.
Pat Haley is a Clinton County native and former county commissioner and sheriff.