What will we do when they are all gone?
By Ricky Swindle
Muffler Shop Musings
It seems that every few days we lose a good soul who was a fixture of our little neck of the woods. This week is no different.
Jerry Holloway from Crowder was a novel individual. He was one of those dinosaurs I referred to in my article a few months back about service stations, and the men who turned that bygone occupation into an art form in the days before the convenience store.
Jerry Holloway was a true service station man.
He was an altogether different service station man from the norm though. At no point during working hours would you ever see a speck of grease, oil or dirt on his work garments.
Somehow, to the amazement of all his service station peers, myself included, the man could out work a teenager and still leave at the end of the day as clean as when he started.
He wore button down shirts with the top two buttons always unhitched and his sleeves were rolled up to form cuffs midway between his elbow and shoulder.
He sported black western style work boots that shined like new money always, and kept his grease rag tucked thru his front belt loop.
He had a personable helpful attitude and took great pride in satisfying his customers. Always wearing a smile along with a slight grin when he was revving up to tell you a good joke or story as he called it and he never ran out of stories.
Jerry enjoyed the sound of glass pack mufflers on an automobile because he installed them on every vehicle he ever owned. You better know if he ever had the affordability to buy a 100,000 dollar Cadillac Escalade it would be at our store on our rack receiving the old school exhaust sound. Ole Jerry liked those things tremendously.
Jerry worked for my Daddy at our station awhile during my teenage years and was an absolute pleasure to labor along with.
One thing that is relative to any and all service station men is to carry a good pocketknife. Case XX is the top of the line, but an Uncle Henry or an Old Timer will do.
The two latter just don’t seem to hold their edge as long in this old grease monkey’s opinion.
At the time, Jerry carried a long, yellow banana pocketknife that was so sharp you could wave it in the air and hear all the little dust mites dying, and he could produce it from his front pants pocket opened and return it closed faster than you could blink.
He took great sport in showing off his skill and quickness with that that pig sticker.
The old tire plugging tool we used in the day favored a pair of vise grip pliers. You would load a mushroom type plug into the chamber and stick the snout in the hole of the tire tread where on pulling it out, it made a sound resembling popping a cork on a wine bottle.
Two boys rolled a tire in the shop one hot summer day and asked to have it repaired. Jerry aired it up and found the leak. He held the tire and inserted the plug tool and all in one fluid motion, as the plug popped in the tire, Jerry simultaneously went into his pocket, retrieved the knife, opened it, cut the plug, closed it and slid the blade back in his pocket faster than greased lightning and quicker than a hiccup.
Just a pop and a click were the only audible sounds heard.
One young man looked at the other and says “Did you see that?”
The other boy said “Naw, but I heard it.”
One of the funniest situations I recall involving Jerry was of all things at a funeral.
Our mutual friend Larry Wayne Griffin passed away a few years back, and I along with Jerry and too many folks to count were attending the service for our beloved buddy.
As we all somberly gathered around Larry Wayne’s casket at the Crowder Cemetery, the minister urged everyone to get in a little closer and we drew in tighter.
The preacher started in with his tried and true opening ceremony remarks, something to the effect of “Dearly beloved we are gathered today here to say goodbye…” and followed by “Let us all bow our heads and pray”.
The only sound was that of the birds chirping in the trees on the edge of that country cemetery.
At that exact moment, as Jerry Clower used to say, “If I’m lying, I’m dying” Jerry had forgot to turn his cell phone off and he got a call right then and there.
In the midst of that gloomy melancholy moment on that sunny Southern summer day, all that was heard in that still atmosphere was Jerry’s phone with the volume wide open ringtone that was blasting none other than the immortal Conway Twitty singing “Hello Darling, Nice to see you, It’s been a long time!”
Every bowed head immediately unbowed and all eyes were on poor ole Jerry Holloway.
Jerry takes off running across the cemetery with his phone in hand, unknown to him of how to cut this thing off so the only way he knows how to silence it is to just answer the dang thing.
Very quickly he says “I am at Larry Wayne’s funeral, I’ll call you back”. He stands off in the distance fiddling around with that little flip phone feverishly attempting to ward off another mishap.
We all sniggered lovingly at old Jerry’s untimely misfortune. Somehow, I got a feeling that our buddy Larry Wayne had to be up above laughing it up because he enjoyed good humor himself all his life, and was well known to let out a roar of laughter when he got tickled.
Just good folks. Jerry Holloway was good folks. He was a good friend, mentor, worker and the list goes on and on.
I wonder often what are we going to do when all the good folks are gone?
Jerry Holloway was a top notch dandy of a fellow. I am proud to have known him and I believe he made my life and a whole lot of other folks lives better.
Jerry Holloway was an asset to this world.
Take care of yourself folks and check on your old friends and neighbors every chance you get.
Write to Ricky Swindle at firstname.lastname@example.org