Bandanas and Beer

Bandanas and Beer

 

I read in the paper that my father’s bar was sold,

probably will be torn down for some new office

buildings. A bar named for a derby horse, a place

where I could find his truck, there, every working

day. I would ride my bike across George Rodgers

Clark Park, to listen to men, be men. My father

never sat at the bar, but stood at the end, like

the father sits at the head of the table.

 

I am dreaming of bandanas and beer, turtle soup

and hot red potatoes. A Grandmother with a pairing

knife, hot bacon grease and great Grandmother eating

the peels as we go. I am dreaming of what used to be

and what is now just some memory, that floods into

my mind with just one mention of a smidgen of it.

 

Yes, I knew Leo Burmester, but he is merely a thought,

he was the brother of my father’s best buddy, who had

a wife named George. Like the first name of the park

I grew up on. Walking dark nights in the tamed wilderness

of the city, growing up in the shadows of cherry trees

that stood while Louisville was young.

 

Those men, Joe, my father, Mike and Leo. My motorcycle

stars, bandanas and beer flood into my mind. The bar

on the far reaches of Germantown, Tim Tam’s will be

gone, like the bar Shacks, down the street from Check’s.

The bar where I drank my first Falls City, while men

cheered the game, I was only nine or so, the son of

a Wright, in a neighborhood built by families and

German-American dreams.

 

Dreams, like the thought that I am from that place. Like the

dream I am now following of a wife, who’s deep roots in

Henry County, are not strong enough to hold her spirit there.

I have been accused of dreaming, and yes, soon, if not already

most of what I see as me, is gone.

 

The German Club, the wooden chairs that we as children sat in,

waiting for our families to get done rehearsing some weird version

of heritage. My Grandmother’s friend Ruby, trying to hook her friend up,

yet, she still, even though He has passed, She is married to Lester. She

dances with him every New Year’s Eve, as we stood around

the bar in the basement. She twirled, maybe high on Old Grand Dad

and coke, a highball of thought, bonded like the whiskey.

 

So, yes, I knew him, and I know he is famous, like that man you

are archiving! The last time I met with the wise man of the river,

I sat in the front seat of his truck. We brought his sheep in from

the pasture. He told me that someone thinks he needs a new truck,

and I knew what was wrong with it. It wasn’t loaded up for a trip

down Dixie Dieway.

 

There wasn’t an orange bag of Mammoth Cave Twist on the dash.

Leo was not in the passenger seat as my father cuts me a piece

and I, throw up my guts, because I just wanted to be like my cowboy

elders, listening to WAMZ, stopping at the bait shop for a pickled

chicken dinner. The fellers that would trick me to duck as we passed

the tank, at Fort Knox and then get me to carry a heavy skillet down

the path to our weekend middle class cabin at Rough River and make

fun of me, because it was too much for a little guy to handle, like all

those memories that flood into my mind, run on and on with just a

mention of Leo’s last name.

 

My Grandmother Kaelin, and her chicken house. The place us kids

played every Sunday. She lived next door to my Grandmother who

lived next door to my Father. And every Sunday, we all sat and ate

ice cream and chocolate syrup. Bless us oh Lord, for these and thy gifts,

for which we are about to receive, just one neighborhood, under God,

indivisible, like the Red Bandanas and Beer and tight-knit families.

Amen.

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