Drivin’, Datin’ and Hurtin’
Southern tales of young love – and BaptistsDrivin’, Datin’ and Hurtin’Southern Tales of Young Love – and Baptists
By Dr. Charles Williams
EDITOR’S NOTE: Tallahassee radiologist Dr. Charles Williams shares tales of his life growing up as the son of a Colquitt County, Ga., sharecropper in his second book of reminiscences, “More Simpler Times.” As a youngster, Williams was known by the nickname Pedro – pronounced “Pee-dro.”
Dating in simpler times was not exactly simple, but it was exciting, filled with humor and clumsiness, and sometimes associated with hurt. Romance was often seen through rose-colored glasses, and when hurt did occur, youth had the ability to quickly rebound and heal.
Mama told Pedro’s sisters and cousins that the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach. Once, Hazel, who was in her teens, was visiting the homeplace at suppertime. We usually had beans and taters and some nights we had taters and beans, but on this night we were having liver. One good thing about liver was that you could always get enough of it. A good-looking young man from the Norman Park community dropped by, and Mama told Hazel that it was OK to ask him to stay for supper. Hazel then said to him, “The weather’s bad and you’d better stay and have some liver with us.” He replied, “Thank you. I’m much obliged, but the weather ain’t that bad.”
One could not do any serious courtin’ without a driver’s license and a car. In 1956, Pedro and the 1949 Ford had a few problems. The door on the passenger side had to be tied shut with haywire and the front seat rolled forward when you hit the brakes. Pedro and that car circled the courthouse square in Moultrie, Ga., so many times looking for girls that the price of gas went up.
Pedro will never forget his first real date all by himself. He was real nervous, but Mama told Pedro just to be himself if his date could put up with it. When Pedro arrived at the door to pick her up, she was actually prettier than a speckled puppy.
Pedro and his date headed to the Sunset Drive-In. Upon arrival, he put the speaker on the window and got settled in. The people in the next car over were giggling and making loud noises. Pedro felt that anybody having that kind of fun had to be sinning. Pedro then remembered that the preacher once asked, “What must you do before you can expect forgiveness of sins?” Someone in the third pew shouted back, “You must sin.”
After the movie, Pedro headed to a dead-end road near Ballard’s dairy farm off Thomasville Highway where there was a lot of dirt between the houses. When he got there, there were already a lot of other cars.
Some folks called this Lovers Lane. Pedro put his arms around his date and she said, “Don’t kiss me. I got scruples.” Pedro stopped. He did not want to catch the scruples. He knew a lot of Baptists with scruples, and it stayed with them most of their lives. After a while, the police arrived and people started leaving like ants in a burning log.
When Pedro got home, Dad asked, “Where have you been most of the night?” Pedro told him that he had been riding around with the guys. Dad replied, “Well, one of the guys left his lipstick in the car.”
During the night, Pedro had it figured out that he had fallen in love. Next day, he went by to tell her that he was not worthy of her love. He didn’t get the chance. She told him first. Pedro’s heart was aching. His lips felt numb, and there was something in his throat. He didn’t know if he could make it to the driveway with all that hurt, but he tried. As he was leaving, Pedro decided to look back for the last time, and for the first time he noticed that she had big ears.
Proceeds from “More Simpler Times” help fund the We Care Program, which provides medical care for the indigent and is supported by the Capital Medical Society Foundation. Purchase Williams’ book, which was produced by Rowland Publishing, by calling the Capital Medical Society at (850) 877-9018 or by visiting the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Gift Shop.