A. THUNDER BOLTS

Remember the “Thunderbolt” from The Godfather? Al Pacino (Michael) knew
from the moment he saw the young Italian girl that was it. Believe it, I’m proof. I’d heard a lot about Lou’s maid of honor, Margaret. They were nurses, had gone to school together, and now both worked in Detroit.
Pete and I were walking upstairs to the living quarters, and the girls were dress-ing the bridesmaids. As we passed the door (we did not peek!) someone exited the maiden-filled dressing area. There she was. KAH-TOW-YOW! They had her burgundy bridesmaid dress hiked up over her waist, adjusting something. My eyes meet hers, on the way up, and that’s about it. Game over, E. Thomas Parham, Jr.
Actually we never talked to each other that trip. I had purchased Vette number two, a burgundy ’69, with a 454 cubic engine. Between the raucous crowd and riding around in the car, I couldn’t get to Margaret, I did tell Lou’s sister, Cathy age 14, the youngest, I was already in love with Margaret.
After the wedding, Pete and I drove the ‘Vette south. Why couldn’t that girl be in my life? Oh well, back to Wilson.
Margaret and Mary Lou had traveled all over everywhere. Margaret loved to travel and was just getting started. On another European excursion that August, she went this time with her sister, Francis. An able substitute for married Mary Lou Gray.
Seeing someone on this trip who she swears reminded her of me, she sent both Pete and I a post card.
Pete was being transferred to Raleigh with BB&T Bank. We had a party ar- ranged for him. I invited Margaret to the party.
True to her pattern, Margaret, just back from Europe, was planning another trip. She and another “tramp nurse” were headed to Alaska to work. She was to leave the next week. “Come on down for a couple of days anyway,” I suggested. “Okay” was a great answer to me.
She arrived on Tuesday at age 25. I was 29. She had to leave on Friday. North to Alaska. We had a problem. She called me on a stopover in Pittsburgh. “What are we going to do?” She wondered. I knew then she felt as I did. “Well, we could get married.” (Did you say that, Pete later questioned.)
History.
When I picked up Margaret at the Raleigh Airport that Tuesday, I asked if she’d mind my stopping momentarily at my parent’s home, very near the airport and very easy to check on them. “Sure.”
My dad, located at the back door and shelling butter beans, said his gentle- manly “hello” and kept shelling. After a few brief moments with Mother Geneva Belle, we were off in the ‘vette and a whirlwind.
My parents were unaware at the next 3 days events. I returned one week later with Margaret, Dad in the same spot, this time string beans.
“Dad, remember Margaret?” “Yes.” “Well, we have some news, we’re going to marry!”
I had his attention.
Margaret, hearing my mom call, walked inside. I guess this is as good a time as any. “Dad, I need to tell you that Margaret is Catholic.”
The Baptist minister’s response was “I’d rather you be Catholic than what you’ve been.”

B. GAME OVER (71)

My wife, Margaret, and I dated from one Tuesday till that Thursday when we became engaged.   “Lust at first sight!”   Think “the thunderbolt” from THE GODFATHER.   Against the supposed odds, it has lasted almost 44 years.   Two reactions to this quick decision came from:   (1) My Father, a retired Baptist minister.   When I announced the news to him I added, “…Dad, Margaret is Catholic.”    His reply : “I’d rather you’d be Catholic than what you’ve been”   OUCH! And (2) When mentioning the 3-day decision to friend, Harold Wayne Clark, Harold quizzed, “…were you at the beach?”

C. CANADIAN BREATHALYZER (426 )

About twenty North Carolinians headed to a snow bound Detroit airport De- cember 1969. One couple got lost. My dad and A.C. Chaplain and friend Dan Hensley joined Father Gerry Craig in a really divine wedding. The party also was also divine.
At the rehearsal party on the previous night we were mixing Canadians, rednecks and booze pretty good. The breath-a-lyzer had just gone into law in Ontario.
Margaret’s father, Jim, was a mine machinist who’d joined his two best bud- dies, Fred and Alex, south to work for Dupont. Alex told a rather rank joke. His wife, Gladys, overheard him, hauling him away by the ear.
Our group assembled at the wedding party and watched as a chagrined Alex was marched over by Gladys to apologize to the Southern guests.
We assured her we’d heard worse and no offense was taken. In fact, have a drink with us. One became two, three, and suddenly Alex blurted, “you guys hear about the first Canadian, a woman, given the breath-a-lyzer? The cop who examined the test stated “Looks like you’ve had a couple of stiff ones!” The woman responded quizzically, “Does it measure that too!” “Please Gladys, grab my other ear this time”, Alex said, as she charges him.

D. CONSCRIPTION (427)

While I disagreed with Coach Norfolk on many issues, I was respectful toward him. And I may owe him my life. Vietnam was in the forefront. I was deferred as a teacher but, unmarried at the time, felt I should enlist. One morning before teaching, I left my breakfast meal at Tweeties (pancakes and a coffee) and went to work. I asked for some time with Coach Norfolk and told him I was considering the military. He talked me out of it, saying, “I need you more than they do.” He assured me the Marines were about to win the “Skirmish”, and it would be a waste of my time. I took him at his word. Later another of his basketball players told me he’d convinced him similarly. My guess is Coach Norfolk had seen enough war to keep us away from it.
Having taught for forty years I guess I was properly deferred. There’s always been a tinge of guilt.

E. DUKE VS CAROLINA (89)

My Wife, Margaret, was born in Ontario, Canada.    Kirkland Lake is about 5oo miles north of Detroit.   The fifth of six, she has three older brothers with the twins about a year older, then Jim who is less than a year older than the twins.   Jim lives in the Yukon.  He told me once he went there because “… survival is challenging  here.”  While the boys were tough youngsters, Margaret didn’t back off much, they told me.  And, in a letter we found written by her Mom, and describing each of her six, briefly says of her fifth one (Margaret, at age 4)  only that “… this one is a little rip.”

Margaret loves to travel.    Two weeks  ago she was in Tampa.  Easy trip.  Next was a trip to Detroit, leaving from Chapel Hill,  N.C.    As the “southern storm of the century” began developing and heading our way , we observed closely.

My Father, a Southern Baptist minister, responded succinctly when I told him my newly betrothed Margaret was “Catholic”: I’d rather you be Catholic than whatever it  is you have been!”   Ouch.  I did walk away with  some of it.   Beseech seems to be the best biblical word for begging.   As the storm gathered  I went from suggesting  (“that storm is big and really is headed our way”),  to  advising (” this one looks too strong to risk”) and finally to “beseeching” (“baby , please don’t go”).

Perhaps the wisest thing I have done in our marriage is to not try to harness this spirit.   Yet at this moment I pressed beyond the limit.   Her stated response was something like  “I can do this.  I’ll be careful.  Someone really needs  help now”.   The upshot of that really meant “go back and sit in your chair, I’m on my way”.  Chapel Hill from our home is about three hours.  Six hours after leaving she made it.  And  she is home safely.

I thought about the bus that couldn’t get Duke to Chapel Hill…Margaret could have driven that bus.  I guess that says it all:  Duke vs Carolina cancelled.  Margaret didn’t.

And to think, they gave me awards.

Valentines Day, 2014.  “…my gift is my song, and this one’s for you”.   Elton John

F. ON HALLUCINATIONS (88)

My Mom was a Phillips from Onslow county, N.C.   The government “condemmed”  their land and that of a lot of other people, to build Camp Lejeune—the Marine base.  Somehow Mom never thought much of government after that.  She had five siblings, four sisters and only one brother, my “Uncle Lindsey”.  Lindsey was not only naturally hilarious, he often enhanced that quality with substances, i.e., RWL (or RUN, WALK, THEN LAY DOWN LIKKER).

I was recently reminded of Lindsey’s humour.  Golfer friends were talking about a fellow player who had just endured multiple and complicated back surgeries.  Friends said the patient said the drugs had caused him all kinds of weird dreams and he had seen”…dead friends, his parents, multiple scenes from days gone bye”, etc.  My cousin and Lindsey’s  son, Henry Phillips, told a similar story on his Dad.  Having complications after major surgery, Lindsey was strictly prohibited from any drugs or alcohol.   Henry asked his Dad  how things were, since they had taken  drugs and booze from him?   Lindsey’s reply:   ALL THE GUESTS HAVE GONE.

H. 13,000 FEET

I drove through the “Cimarron Pass.” We wanted to get to Telluride, Colorado. We were in Lake City. There were two main roads, one north, one south, that circumvented the considerable mountains. They call them “thirteeners,” or 13,000 feet up. Four hours each way around.
Usually I’m the cautious one. Margaret’s “spirit” is amazing. I am grateful now for all the times she’s challenged my “timidity.”I looked at my map. There was an obscure line that looked like a road. It was 21 miles long. Twenty minutes instead of four hours.
I asked a local if we could take that road.
“What you driving?”
“A convertible” pointing at the Sebring.
“No way man, four wheel dive jeeps have trouble with that road.”
Why, I didn’t know but to ask an obvious drunk, carrying take-out BBQ, the
same question. “Sure, piece of cake” as he walked out. My guess is he’s still laugh- ing. Wicked Jerk.
Against Margaret’s objection, the most concern I’d witnessed, we took off. I’d show her courage.
Actually about six or eight miles of that road is simply a dirt road. No worse than a thousand a redneck like me has traveled. “The drunk was right, must be some local ‘wussies’ around here.”
“Wrongy—Dongey.”
The road ran out. Hardly a visible path. We were literally riding “through the mountains.” The warm weather was melting the snow. The tires spun in the mud and on the rocks. Rear end bouncing everywhere. Two miles per hour max. Margaret had to stand up in the convertible front seat to spot a route. “A foot left, no, no, back, ouch!” The bottom of the Sebring banged rocks, mud flew everywhere. We pushed it six times. And it was getting dark. We came to a “Y” or what looked like two roads. Which one goes to Silverton, our destination?
We guessed right and to the right. We found out the other road would have taken seven hours. Alone at night with the grizzlies?
Silverton is one of those train ride towns, where you hang over the mountains, wondering if the engineer was still driving. Now, I’m the engineer.
Never been so scared for so long. At twilight, near darkness, we spotted what might be a road, or a sophisticated path. It led to a better road. Then a house. Civilization.
There was a “yuppie” party in full blast. Music, booze, all turned inward from the visible balcony. One guy stood, drink in hand, overlooking the road I was meandering down, top lowered.
He stopped the party! “Damn ya’ll come over here.” The music stopped, the yuppies wandered to the rail.
Quiet now, I heard the guy marvel, “That Son of a Bitch drove that rental through the Cimarron Pass!”
I stuck out my chest, felt like John Wayne, and waved.
When we got about to Silverton my instructions to Margaret were: “We’re stopping at the first motel open. You rent any room at any price.”
When she opened the motel door I went directly to a bed, laid down and thanked God. I didn’t move till morning.
The Sebring was so muddy I felt I had to have it washed. I told the attendant what I’d done and asked if we should examine it underneath?
“Mister, I believe I’d just try to turn this one in, if you can get it back.”
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