Back to my playground…


After a fairly hectic work week, I curled up in front of the television and watched a favorite movie, Heart Like a Wheel; kind of a chick-flick for someone who once enjoyed tearing down a quarter mile at breakneck speeds. 


That would be…me.  

Later, my dreams had me drag racing through the night and into the early morning hours.  Today, I’ve been in some pretty deep thought about what I would redo in my past, if I had just one chance to return to what used to be…my playground.

Trust me, there is plenty and it’s difficult to focus on just one thing but…for fun’s sake, I’d walk, no run, back to the late 60’s and a chance to earn my NHRA Competition License.

I was close back then, very close.  A local speed shop owner offered me the opportunity to drive his AA/Gas Dragster to qualify at a local drag strip.  The requirements were not as strict as they are today even as dragsters started approaching speeds of 200 mph.  If you were a street racer and week-end competitor at a drag strip, having that important piece of paper gave you an edge, if not just bragging rights.   Aside from those rights, there were great memories of the various racing events which gave me the thrill of meeting so many big names in racing, among them, Shirley Muldowney, who advised me to follow my dreams and “show these guys what you’re made of…get that license!”

And I wanted one…badly.

In 1967, the NHRA’s requirements were as follows…”Known, qualified, competent drivers will be the first to receive their license upon the recommendation of their home strip manager. These experts then become the backbone of the entire program. Their judgement and experience, along with that of the strip manager, determines who shall be licensed later. Each strip manager will be a member of the Licensing Committee for his strip. Other members will be at least two licensed drivers at each meet.

The driver’s test will basically consist of a series of runs before the Licensing Committee, working gradually to a full quarter-mile under power and at progressively faster speeds. Should a driver not pass his first or subsequent tests, he can continue to apply at each meet, but is limited to single runs until he passes the test and receives his license from the Division Director.”

I was a ready-teddy, armed with a competitive and mechanical background, necessary signatures and that need-for-speed.  The only drawback was the dragster at hand and questions about the safety of both its design and performance.  As I said, I was close but those questions were to keep me from making what could have been a dangerous attempt to grab that precious license.

It just wasn’t meant to be and I gave up the chance only to learn, a few months later, the rail job exploded during a race and the driver was severely injured. 

That…could have been me.

But, if given that chance to go back to that playground and try it all again?  You bet your gas, I would!



From Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop… Tell us about a favorite side hobby you’ve had at some point in your life.

A favorite post from several years ago which fit this prompt…perfectly.  Drag racing, a hobby?  It was so much more than that, mostly one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done.  Mostly.  I’m sure there have been others but with everything involved in owning and racing a car, I can look back on so much knowledge learned and some sorrow with not having my GTO any longer.  But, I wouldn’t have missed it all, not for the world!


Things that go bump in the night….

corner ghost
There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a ghost in the corner… over there
Telling me I got to beware

Okay, I borrowed lyrics from a Buffalo Springfield song and added my own spin to them.  Necessity being the mother of invention caused me to do it; that and a strange happening that is currently driving me absolutely bonkers!  How fitting that a poltergeist, of some sort, should be making its presence known in my home just before Halloween.

Actually, it’s damn annoying; I want it to stop and go away immediately! 

I’ll have to admit that I was hesitant to even blog about this given the history of my mother’s Alzheimer’s; there is that underlying fear of heading down the same path to Neverland as she did.  Sharing the few ghostly encounters I’ve had, prior to this most recent incident, have been nothing major but the experiences were very real.  Still, there is my concern that someone might think I’m not playing with a full deck or possibly being a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

What?  You want to hear about them?  Well, you pulled my arm, so here goes….

The Missing Eyeglasses

Shortly before he died, my father called from Florida to ask if I wanted his 1940 Buick; he was a car collector and had about four classics that he had restored and exhibited in Boca Raton.  We had an extremely strained relationship and I thought it odd at the time that he would be reaching out, assured that his actions were based on guilt for past transgressions.  He sounded almost insistent at the other end and I agreed to accept the car, letting him make arrangements for its transport to New York.

The call ended with “I’ll talk to you soon, kid”.  It was the last time we ever spoke.  Lloyd C. Smith died less than three weeks later and the pride of his car collection ended up at my home one month after that; a huge green car with running boards, whitewall tires and a back seat large enough to comfortably seat twelve people. 

Exaggeration, sorry.   Make that six, even seven, people.


“What in hell am I going to do with this!”, I thought.

I did nothing.  The car sat, like a tombstone in our garages and I felt as if it called out to me every time I passed it by.  One night I had a series of dreams all dominated by my father trying to tell me something.  Again and again, he said “car” and kept pointing to his head.  I chalked it up to some Freudian explanation and called my stepmother the next morning to share the dream details.  Without hesitation, she told me that when she drove my father to the hospital before he passed away, he couldn’t find his favorite pair of Ray Bans and their last conversation was an argument about those sunglasses.

The plot thickens here…back to my dream.

I put the puzzle together and went down to the garage, climbed into the old Buick’s front seat and, there on the driver’s side visor were….the missing glasses, wrapped in a piece of paper that had “I’m sorry for everything, kid” written in my father’s handwriting.  He called me “kid” a lot over the years, so much in fact, that I often wondered if ignoring my given name insulated him from being my father and maybe even excused him from that role.

It was…bittersweet, to say the least.  Apologies made too late for them to make a difference by a forgiveness-seeking ghost from my past.  Wherever my father is located in the hereafter, at least he knows his shades were found. 

There hasn’t been another visit from him, in any form, since 1992.


My Gettysburg Ghost

A few years back found me visiting Gettysburg one week-end in July.  The entire battlefield is a graveyard, many soldiers were buried throughout the fields and farmlands in that area and the reports of sightings or hauntings have been recorded for years. 

Early on a Sunday morning I got up at the crack of dawn, armed with my old workhorse Nikon camera, and sat in the fields near Bushman Farm. The temps were already beyond warm, the air was hauntingly still. I sat, taking pics of a beautiful sunrise and…suddenly my body started shivering.

Goosebumps were everywhere; hair stood up on my arms and a feeling of intense cold gripped the back of my neck and shoulders. Going with the moment, I softly spoke and asked whoever it was to just sit and talk with me for a while.

The feeling of being enveloped in cold continued for several minutes until a warm breeze came out of nowhere and the cold disappeared.                                                           

Bushman Farm

Bushman Farm was a battlefield, ultimately a graveyard as it so much of Gettysburg.   One more place where so many spirits still roam, reach out and move on.

Give me back my Book!!

Several years ago, I blogged about losing my work in a computer crash but….I did have hard copy.  The manuscript was there, in my home office, tucked away in a stunning  leather tote, right next to my computer desk.  In fact, I had been rummaging through that bag while writing a post… Peter and the Iron Horse.  When I was done, all the chapters were put back into their folders and returned to the carryall which was then left resting against my printer stand.


Shortly after, it was nowhere to be found.

Trust me, I did not move it anywhere and searched every closet in my house and even up in the attic….it vanished without a trace!  What I do remember is waking up startled by a cold breeze one evening after falling asleep watching “Twilight” for the zillionth time.  There, in the darkness, a wave of cold air swept by my face much like a fan during a warm summer night. 
So, say you? 

The windows were all closed tightly, say I!

My sanity was, and still is, relatively intact, I’m not forgetful or absent-minded but I am convinced that the skeletons who remain hiding in my closet were somehow responsible, on a rampage to stop me from rattling bones.  This wasn’t a case of thinking an item was misplaced only to find it sitting in some corner…….my book had really disappeared! 

And no one believed me.


workshop-button-1From Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop…Write about a time you thought there was a ghost.

This post was written years ago and I share it because of the few unsettling happenings which took place both in the dark and by the light of day.  My manuscript was recovered and the “how” behind its brief disappearance remains a mystery.  Still.