Human Tarp

I remember Thanksgiving when I was a child. We didn’t do much with holiday hoopla, nor did any of our neighbors, as far as I know. My grandmother always cooked a big evening meal, but the main attraction of our day was leaf raking.

My dad would borrow his brother’s pickup truck. Some of my neighborhood friends would come over and help with gathering the leaves. I don’t think they especially enjoyed this work; they were present for the several trips that we would make to the dump. We filled the back of the pickup with leaves, and then we children piled into the truck bed and functioned as a tarp. My dad set out along narrow, winding country roads, driving too fast, usually with his window down, while smoking a cigarette. I doubt he ever considered the possibility that his ashes might fly out the window and ignite the leaves, injuring his own two children plus three or four others. Neither did he worry about us being thrown out of the truck. We knew where all of the bumps were and looked forward to the feeling of tumbling around all over each other and the leaves. It was better than any amusement park ride, and somehow we all survived with nary a scratch.

By the time my children were born, Thanksgiving had become more about food and fellowship. I don’t know when or how my parents cleaned up their leaves in those days. I never gave the slightest consideration to allowing my children to ride in the back of a truck.


Henrico County, VA

I have a BA in English from The College of William & Mary and a post-baccalaureate certificate in accounting from Virginia Commonwealth University. Many years ago I left a career as a Certified Public Accountant to become a stay-at-home mom to three children who are now in their twenties. Much of my writing reflects my childhood in the southeastern Virginia paper mill town of Franklin.

Becky TheuerComment