Tomorrow, Mom, Beck and I will travel to Oak Ridge to meet family, and talk about old times before Roaul’s funeral on Tuesday. I’ll be a pallbearer, a duty I’m proud to discharge.
My earliest memories are of being in Oak Ridge around Roaul and Merilyn. When we lived in Harrison, I think we went up there easily once a month, and if we weren’t up there, they were at Mom and Dad’s house in the valley.
Roaul and Dad were terrific with electronics. Both were hams, and they talked almost every day for most of my childhood, bridging the 120mi gap between them with a pair of 500w 2m amplifiers they’d built from scratch. My bet is that Roaul’s is still hooked up and functional.
Later in life, they both camped together, usually at Chester Frost Park in Hixson. The last times I saw Roaul and Dad together were at Chester Frost, sitting around rehashing the old days, and spinning long yarns.
It seems like every time Dad and Roaul (and Teddy, when he was alive) would get together, the tall tales would spill forth.
Dad used to tell how he was roller skating once when he was about 10 or 12 years old, living in Concord. He fell and broke his arm, and had to walk to the hospital from the rink. Grandma was working at the plant in Oak Ridge, and the farmhouse in Concord had no phones, so the doctors couldn’t get permission to anesthesize Dad to set his arm. So, they set it with him wide awake. He walked home to the farmhouse, and as he walked down the road, Roaul came zooming up behind him (Roaul was six years Dad’s senior). Dad tried waving him down, but Roaul thought he was just waving to be friendly, and continued on down the road, much Dad’s chagrin.
Dad and Roaul used to talk about how they would double date in the late 50s, and, if they decided to, swap jackets and swap dates with the gals never knowing the difference.
Once of the last stories I remember them telling together was the tale of skipping school and stealing Grandpa’s car. Everytime Grandpa would try to keep them from taking the car, the three of them would come up with a solution. Grandpa would hide the key, so the boys made their own. Grandpa then hid the rotor, so they bought their own. Grandpa chained the car to the fence, so they sawed the fence post so they could take the car. Eventually Grandpa started chaining the car to a tree at the farm. This didn’t stop them — they got a split link for the chain, and took the car again.
There were hundreds of tales, and I always thought that they would make great reading material. I figured someday I’d get a tape recorder in front of Roaul and Dad, and let them spin away. I never did that, and now those stories are silent, and once removed just in the memories of those of us who remain, as all the Wright boys are now gone.