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Memories on the road

A milkshake for the boy, a coupla cups of coffee for the dad, and pie for both. The father alternated between apple and custard. The boy always ordered banana cream. "Pie is a desert men eat," he thought to himself.

After dinner, back at the printer's, sitting in the truck waiting to hear the ring of the press bell that might barely cut through tonight's humidity-which alerts the pressmen to mind their fingers and shirtsleeves because the press is about to roll-the boy listens carefully to his father's stories about growing up on a Pennsylvania farm, now a municipal golf course, in the Philadelphia area.

About the father's uncles, Stanley and Artie (Artie, the blind street-lamp lighter), and how Artie scored the distance between lamps by counting his steps aloud and how his father and buddies would creep up behind Artie and blow out the wick of Artie's lighter.

About the German mechanic who taught his father not to give up on a faulty engine "It vent before. If you've got eet back right, eet's gotta go."

About planting, harvesting, and Harry the Horse which was his father's favorite horse.

"This is what will happen, see? You have friends, guys you work for. It's fun. You get a good job, one with benefits. Then you meet a girl and get married and have a place of your own with your wife. And you have kids. There ain't much more than that to life."

The boy found the lessons interesting and entertaining. His favorite? The first time his father drove.

"One day, I was little, my Pop caught me sitting behind the wheel of his Model T truck daydreaming. He got in the other seat, and said 'Okay, see if you can drive this thing.' It had a foot lever choke. I started it, put it in gear and took right off. He was surprised, he said, 'Billy, how did you know how to do that?'"

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