Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | April 23, 2012

Opening lines of a new book. May be mostly true.

This is my first post since the wreck.  I was injured in a car accident on 4/18 and just left the hospital yesterday evening.  Most of this was composed in a hospital bed.


It was a time when small boys in southern towns listened for distant whistles and ran to the long tracks.  Enormous dragons, spitting steam, slowed to reach steel claws snatching grimy  canvas mail pouches, like stealing  bags of knights’ armor from an enemy   castle. Engineers, with grimy faces and striped blue caps waved before giving an extra toot of the whistle, answering  arm-jerking signals as short legs tried to keep pace with accelerating iron wheels. Remembrance of tiny cinders still stings the eyes.

Mama Lou’s house was comfortable. White frame, with broad porches that invited  breezes up from the creek we called Panther Branch. Everyone—eight brothers, sisters and their broods—could sit at Thanksgiving and Christmas tables with overloaded stomachs, or ride the porch swing on green wooden slats, laughing over the squawk of metal chains.

Family gathered there. Not just for major holidays showing on the big insurance company calendar. A day of gathering wasn’t always  printed under the calendar’s number. Aunt Elsie or Lorene could always call and ask Johnnie Cloud’s grandmother, who operated town’s switchboard, to get everyone on the line. After the get-together on the wires, assembling would be soon.


  1. If you’re not already an author, you should be. I enjoyed this, since my Dad was a railroad man. Your descriptions are very “comforting” in style.

    • Thank you for your kind comment. I’m an author, but have never written in this genre before. I’ll announce progress on Facebook.

  2. This is certainly an interesting new flavor you have added to your ever increasing repertoire. I’m looking forward to reading just where you may take us from here!

  3. I’m very happy to hear that you are out of the hospital and on the mend! It brings a smile to me too in knowing that even as you were going through such trauma and pain, you continued to write. “Writing is not, for us, an art, but breathing.” ~ Anais Nin

  4. Excellent so far. Can’t wait to hear more. I’m sorry for your present condition but at least you have your writing to decrease the “stir crazies”.

    • Thank you. I have the general format, now to choose what pieces will support the central theme.

  5. Excellent….I’ll try and keep a watch out for it!

  6. Love this, Tom!

  7. Love that! Sounds just right. I remember our phone number – 95-J. Wouldn’t get you far today. Great writing. I’m just now catching up on your rehab musings. You’re doing a hell of a job. To bad you have to put up with the rehab part – it will get easier. Take care. Ken

    • Good to hear from you. I’ve been working on the piece today. I didn’t remember the number/letter combo. Was that because of a party line?

      • Not sure whether to call it a party line. I don’t think our phone even had a dial – you just picked up the handset and you got the operator who plugged you up to whoever you wanted to call. Seems that this procedure changed and evolved from time to time before Ma Bell finally bought or took over the system. Boy, talk about piping in the sunshine.

      • I’m sure our phone didn’t have a dial when we patched through the switchboard at Pearl Brown’s house.

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