Commentary: Always a welcome visitor

Published 6:58 pm Thursday, September 9, 2010

By Bill Attaway | Special to the Advertiser

Have you ever fallen and then looked around to see if anybody was looking—and, of course, there were certain people that you certainly didn’t want to see you?

I had been working in my boathouse, and for some reason my canoe was in my fishing boat slip. I needed to get something off the shelf and made the unforgivable mistake of stepping over into the canoe. After coming up soaking wet and blowing water out, I looked up and there he was.

My buddy Leevie Bates was standing there laughing. Then, he stooped and said, “Bill, you have been telling me about those canoes, but I thought you got inside them to ride!” Then he was gone, straight to Ma’s with a story that had everybody in stitches. Something like, “He was riding that thing like a bucking bronco, sometimes he would be on top, sometimes the canoe would be on top!”

I got to know Leevie really well and always enjoyed hearing him laugh. When he wasn’t laughing, he was grinning from ear to ear. I asked him several times how much he would charge me to forget that little incident. He would grin and say, “You ain’t got that kind of money.”

Leevie sort of policed his little “neighborhood” up Walnut Creek. Sometimes, he would let them get out of hand, and I would have to step in. I remember one night I had a report of the kids riding those little boats at night with no lights. I went up there, and right in front of Leevie’s Camp was Kenny, Little Bill and Chuck Calloway running around like little water bugs. The problem was they didn’t have lights. The first one I talked to was Chuck.

He popped up out of his seat. I said, “Son, I know that you don’t want to get into any trouble…” He interrupted me with, “Look, if you are going to give me a ticket, let’s have it. We want to ride our boats”! Hey, Chuck was only 8-10, maybe, so I was back to Plan B. I think about that every time I see Chuck!

My Lavada liked Leevie a lot, too. He was always kidding her, “I was down to see ya’ll today. There was nobody home, so I made a cross in the dirt and left.” Now, he was the master “storyteller.” One of our favorites: Back near the end of World War II, they were needing more men to make a major push. They had drafted all the desirable men they could get, so they were having to go back and get a few that were “challenged.” So, they were going all over the county, rounding them up to take to Maxwell Field.

What a group this must have been. As the sergeant was calling their names to get aboard, he called this fellow’s name over and over. Suddenly, he stuck his head out and announced, “Already in the chuck, good buddy, already in the chuck.” Lavada and I still get some mileage out of that line.

One day I asked Leevie how he was doing. “When you get my age, you are either trying to think of a feller’s name–or looking for a place to pee!”

– Attaway’s original Cruisin’ the Coosa column ran in The Clanton Advertiser in the 1970s and 80s.