It’s simple: nothing is simple


Speaking of Pontiacs, my family when I was growing up lived on the edge of town, literally. That is, we lived on the edge of the business district, “downtown.” Two houses stood between us and Herren’s Garage, a cavernous hangar of a building that squarely straddled the state line between Georgia and Alabama. It was always said they permanently closed a rear entrance to prevent having to pay sales tax in both states.

Herren’s Garage serviced automobiles. Inside, it was dark and oily. The only shiny things to be seen were three or four new Pontiacs parked out front, for Herren’s Garage was the local Pontiac dealership.

It is hard to explain how big “westerns” once were in our popular culture. There were western movies and western television shows and western literature and western songs. One evening, in a dark and oily corner of Herren’s Garage, there was presented for local entertainment a quick-draw artist, some fellow duded up in western garb and firing pistols that were (I assume!) loaded with blanks. My father took me. I was just a tyke, and I remember it was loud. I also remember the audience was small, mostly men in khaki breeches and work shirts, stoically standing in the dim light of a few bare bulbs and watching a drugstore cowboy pull and shoot his shiny pistols. There must have been other kids, but I don’t think so. The whole memory is surreal, and sometimes I wonder if I didn’t dream it.