Lover of Roads

It is one of my favorite magazine articles. The page edges are charred having survived a fire. It is yellow from being in a forgotten file. But it has been rescued to share with you.

The writer is Leon Hale. The magazine is Southern Living. The page number and date was burned away. I love this tale. I share a few paragraphs:

“My father was a great man, and mighty successful. He was the finest traveling salesman who ever drove a Model T Ford across Texas, selling overalls and work shirts to dry goods stores. He never made any money, but he was a dauntless explorer, a broadener of horizons, an expander of worlds.

“My mother was the Most Faithful Methodist Lady in Texas. She was also a cook who could slice a pie in five equal pieces, and that ain’t easy. My father became the salesman-explorer. His world was monstrous. He knew places like Corsicana, Waxahachie, Nacogdoches, Wichita Falls, Monahans. His world was more than half of Texas. He would come home and tell us about it and expand our horizons. He knew what the road looked like between Sonora and Eldorado, between Borger and Pampa. We would be driving to Grandma Hale’s farm and come to place that wasn’t characteristic of our immediate world and he would say, ‘This looks like the road between Cuero and Yoakum.’

“He never stopped trying to increase his range. I eventually saw a majority of the states and a few foreign countries. One of my bitter regrets is that he was not able to go.

“Toward the end of his time he had a stroke, and when I went to him in the hospital he had an atlas open on his thin middle. He put a shaky finger to Italy, where I spent a year in World War II, and he said, ‘Tell me what the road looks like between Naples and Salerno.”

I read that article in concerts and seminars. In Texas they would correct my pronunciations and I loved them for doing that. There is more to the article. I am so glad I found it again.

“…he was a dauntless explorer, a broadener of horizons, an expander of worlds.”  Those words always were instructive. They seem to define a father’s mission and task. Thank you Mr. Hale.

“He never stopped trying to increase his range. ”

©2015 D. Dean Benton

Writer, Wonderer, Explorer

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